By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The Dominican Republic’s Tigres Del Licey squared off against host nation Venezuela last night at Estadio De La Rinconada in an extra inning thriller as Leones De Caracas won 3-2.
The whole night at La Rinconada showed the home field advantage for Venezuela, with the 34,276 fans in attendance pressuring the Dominican Republic.
Venezuela starting pitcher Eric Leal went six innings, allowing four hits, no earned runs, walking one batter, and striking out six. While Tigres De Licey Manager Jose Offerman started Cesar Valdez, who won the Lanzador del Ano award in the Liga de Beisbol Profesional de la Republica Dominicana, and he was rewarded when pitched lights out, going six innings, allowing three hits, no earned runs and striking out four batters.
In the bottom of the seventh inning, Venezuela nearly scored Hernan Perez drove a fly ball to left field. The Dominican Republic’s Junior Lake camped under the baseball and threw a strike to home plate, cutting down Isaias Tejada to keep the game scoreless.
Dominican relief pitcher Yensy Diaz entered the game in the bottom of the ninth and walked the lead-off batter, Ali Castillo. Then Wilfredo Tovar laid down a sacrifice bunt to move Castillo over to second base. A few batters after, Offerman went to his bullpen once again, calling on relief pitcher Jonathan Aro to get out of the jam. Perez came up with the opportunity to be the hero for Venezuela, only to strike out swinging to end the bottom of the ninth and go into extra innings.
The Dominican Republic got their first run of the game in the top of the tenth when relief pitcher Anthony Vizcaya, in his second inning of relief, threw a wild pitch during Lake’s at bat that went to the backstop, allowing Kelvin Gutierrez to take a 1-0 lead.
Jairo Asencio came on in the bottom of the tenth looking to shut the door for the Dominican Republic, and then Jose Rondon drove a single to center field, scoring Perez to tie the game up at one apiece. A few batters later, Rondon made a miscue, taking off second base with just one out, and when Castillo flew out to center fielder Emilio Bonifacio, Bonifacio threw to second base to cut down Rondon and end the inning.
In the top of the eleventh inning, the Dominican Republic took the lead once again when Henry Urrutia drove a single up the middle scoring Ramon Torres for a 2-1 lead. A few batters after, relief pitcher Ricardo Pinto made a pick-off attempt to second base that skipped out to center fielder, and Rondon threw home to Francisco Arcia, who applied the tag to Rondon, ending the inning.
In the bottom of the eleventh inning, Venezuela looked to extend the game down one run as Dominican relief pitcher Lisalverto Bonilla came out of the bullpen. The first batter Bonilla faced, Wilfredo Tovar, grounded out to shortstop for the first out of the inning. The next batter, Danry Vasquez, drove a fly ball to center field, and Bonifacio caught it for the second out. Ali Castillo tagged up from second to third, and second basemen Gustavo Nunez misplayed the throw from Bonifacio, allowing Castillo to score the tying run.
In the bottom of the twelfth, Venezuela’s Rondon drove a single over the head of Bonifacio, scoring Hernan Perez for a 3-2 win in front of the home fans at La Rinconada.
The Dominican Republic will look to bounce back against Panama today at 2 p.m. ET at Estadio Forum La Guaira. Venezuela will look to keep holding stride against Mexico today at 7:30 p.m. ET at Estadio De La Rinconada. All Caribbean Series games are streamed on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+.