World Baseball Network
The news of the day was that Ronald Acuna, Jr. was in the lineup.
But Tuesday night, Acuna didn’t live up to the hype, going 0-for-4 with a walk and run scored for Tiburones de La Guaira, who fell 8-6 to Leones de Caracas in game one of the Liga Venezolano Beisbol Profesional championship series.
The winner of the series will represent Venezuela at the Caribbean Series, which will be held in Caracas and La Guaira from February 2-10, providing a home-field advantage for whichever team takes the LVBP crown.
In the top of the second, two batters after Angel Reyes doubled to left, Francisco Arcia drove Reyes home with a single to left that was bobbled by left fielder Jose Rondon, allowing Arcia to advance to second. Ehire Adrianza drove in Arcia with a single to center for a 2-0 Tiburones lead.
In the bottom of the third, Ali Castillo drew a one-out walk, and then Wilfredo Tovar tripled to center field when his long fly eluded Tiburones’ center fielder Franklin Barreto, sending Castillo across. Harold Castro drove Tovar home with a sacrifice fly to center to tie the game at two.
An inning later, the Leones broke the game open when Oswaldo Arcia looped a leadoff double to left. Isaias Tejada followed with a double of his own, scoring Arcia to make it 3-2, and that chased Tiburones starter Ramon Garcia, Jr. from the game. Orlando Arcia wasted no time welcoming new pitcher Carlos Suniaga to the party, ripping a double to right field, scoring Tejada. Two batters later, Wilfredo Gimenez drove in Orlando Arcia with an RBI single to left. Suniaga was then lifted in favor of Aldo Montes, who got Tovar to ground into a 6-4-3 double play to end the inning.
The Tiburones cut the lead to 5-3 in the top of the sixth when Alcides Escobar singled to right, scoring Balbino Fuenmayor, ending Leones starter Jhoulys Chacin’s night. Chacin went 5.2 innings, allowing seven hits and three runs while striking out seven and walking one.
Reliever Miguel Socolovich promptly walked Francisco Arcia to put a Tiburone at each base, but then struck out Ehire Adrianza swinging wildly at a 2-2 fastball to end the inning.
The Leones extended their lead to 6-3 when Niko Vasquez doubled to the left field wall, scoring Arcia. Feeling greedy, Vasquez was tagged out trying to stretch his two-bagger into a triple.
Caracas added two more runs in the bottom of the seventh on a two-run double by Jose Rondon.
The Tiburones added three runs in the bottom of the ninth and got the winning run to the plate with two outs, but Angel Reyes flew out to left field to end the game.
Acuna, 25, has been limited by injury over the past several years. If Tiburones de La Guaira makes it to the Caribbean Series, Acuña will play in that event as well. He stated last week that he didn’t expect to play in the World Baseball Classic for Venezuela after consulting with the Atlanta Braves medical staff.
Game two of the LVBP championship series is Tuesday at 6 p.m. The game can be viewed on BeisbolPlay.com with a subscription or via the BeisbolPlay YouTube channel.