By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Jan. 23, 2023
Vaqueros de Monteria beat regular season champions Tigres de Cartagena 7-4 to win the Liga Professional de Beisbol Colombia in the final series to earn their second appearance in the Caribbean Series and their first since the 2020 event, the first year Colombia was invited.
Two Oakland Athletics prospects, Jordan Diaz and Brayan Buelvas, played a significant role for the Vaqueros during the 2022-23 regular season. The Vaqueros’ Daniel Vellojin, a Cincinnati Reds prospect, split his time this year between starting at first base and catching, called consistent games for the pitching staff along with having a tremendous bat during the season.
In the bottom of the first inning, Vaqueros got on the board first when Reynaldo Rodriguez launched a solo home run to left field. During the bottom of the second inning, Carlos Herrera unleashed a home run as Vaqueros took a 2-0 lead.
During the bottom of the fourth inning, Vaqueros kept pouring it on when Andres Angulo drove a two-run home run to left field, scoring Vellojin to make it 4-1.
Tigres starting pitcher Joel Inoa was taken out of the game during the bottom of the fourth inning, after throwing 3.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on six hits, walking one batter and striking out three.
In the top of the eighth inning, Tigres cut the deficit to 5-3 as Jesus Marriaga roped a two-run single to center field scoring Jonathan Lozada and Meibrys Viloria. The next batter, Oscar Mercado, laced a single to left center scoring Ronaldo Hernandez to make it 5-4 and forcing Vaqueros to go to their bullpen.
During the bottom of the eighth inning, Vaqueros looked to put up a cushion of insurance as Jordan Diaz clubbed a solo home run to left field for a 6-4 lead. A few batters later, Pabel Leandro drove a solo home run to left field and staked the Vaqueros to a 7-4 lead.
Relief pitcher Francisco Briceno came in for a four-out save opportunity and retired the side in order 1-2-3 in the ninth, getting Harold Ramirez to line out to first baseman Vellojin for the final out of the game and securing a berth in the Caribbean Series for the second time in the history of the organization.
Vaqueros starting pitcher Porfirio Lopez pitched an outstanding game, throwing seven innings, allowing just four hits, one earned run, two walks, and striking out three.
Colombia will look to go back-to-back at the Caribbean Series, with Caimanes de Barranquilla having won the 2022 event. Colombia will open up the Caribbean Series on February 2 against Puerto Rico at Estadio Forum La Guaira at 3 p.m.