By Leif Skodnick
World Baseball Network
It was a beautiful day for pitchers at Estadio Forum La Guaira, with the wind off the sea beyond the outfield wall blowing in.
And Colombia’s Eduar Lopez made the best of it, scattering four hits over 5.1 innings of work before yielding to the bullpen, where Carlos Diaz, Jhon Peluffo, and Kevin Escorcia combined to throw 3.2 innings of one-hit ball as Colombia won its Caribbean Series opener 7-1 over Puerto Rico.
Lopez was dominant, striking out five and walking none, mixing a hard slider in with fastballs to stymie the Puerto Rican bats. The former Los Angeles Angels and Tampa Bay Rays farmhand spent 2022 with Oaxaca of the Mexican League before signing with Vaqueros de Monteria for the Winter League season, with whom he won the Liga Beisbol Profesional Colombiano championship.
In the top of the third, Colombia drew first blood. Francisco Acuna singled to right field with one out, then the next batter, Gustavo Campero, singled to the right center field wall to score Acuna from first.
Batting in the nine hole, Acuna went 4-for-4 in the game with an RBI and three runs scored.
Colombia padded the lead an inning later. Francisco Acuna led off with a single, and then advanced to third on Andres Angulo’s two-out single. Puerto Rico’s Daryl Thompson left his 1-1 offering to Jordan Diaz out over the plate, and Diaz hit a mammoth three-run homer to left field that nearly left the stadium entirely and gave Colombia a 4-0 lead.
The Diaz homer ended Thompson’s day after 4.2 innings that saw him allow four runs on eight hits, striking out five before deing replaced by Danny Wirchansky.
Puerto Rico didn’t threaten to score until the top of the fifth, when Roby Enriquez singled and then advanced to second on an error by Colombian left fielder Andres Angulo. Jeremy Rivera reached on an error and Enriquez advanced to third, but with Boriquas on the corners, Colombian starter Eduar Lopez got Bryan Torres to ground out to short to end the inning.
A sac fly by Danny Ortiz in the bottom of the seventh scored Vimael Machin to get Puerto Rico on the board, but it was too little, too late.
Colombia added two more runs in the top of the ninth when Acuna scored on a double by Campero and Dilson Herrera drew a bases-loaded walk, scoring Angulo.
Puerto Rico faces Venezuela tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. ET at Estadio Forum La Guaira, while Colombia will play Panama at 1 p.m. ET at La Rinconada.
Every game of the 2023 Caribbean Series will be streamed live on ESPNDeportes and ESPN+.