By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
Mexico improved to 2-1 with a win against Colombia on the third day of competition at the Caribbean Series in Caracas, Venezuela, taking a back-and-forth offensive affair in a rather unique way, with a game-ending hit batsmen forcing a run across to win the game.
Colombia was on the board quickly, scoring two runs in the top of the first. Gustavo Campero and Francisco Acuna led off the game with back-to-back singles. With runners on first and third, second baseman Jordan Diaz lined a double to the gap, bringing home both Campero and Acuna.
Mexico answered with two runs of their own in the bottom of the first. Colombia starting pitcher Francisco Lopez walked his only batter of the day, outfielder Justin Dean, to start the inning. Roberto Valenzuela hit an RBI double just one batter later, and Dean chugged all the way from first to make it 2-1 Colombia. With two outs and Valenzuela on second, Rodolfo Amador lined a single up the middle, scoring Valenzuela and tying the game at two apiece.
Mexico took a 3-2 lead in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer from Juan Uriarte. Francisco Lopez left a fastball right down the middle, and Uriarte launched it over the left field wall.
Neither starting pitcher lasted more than four full innings. Mexico starter Darel Torres finished the day with a line of five strikeouts, three walks, and two earned runs on four hits across four innings. Colombia starter Francisco Lopez gave up three earned runs on three hits in three innings. He struck out two batters and walked one.
Jesus Marriaga tied the game at three in the top of the fifth with an RBI single, driving in Francisco Acuna, who doubled to lead off the inning.The next two hitters would reach base on a walk and a single. Andres Angulo took advantage of his opportunity with men on base, blasting a three-run home run to give Colombia a 6-3 lead. His performance at the dish helped keep Colombia in the game. Angulo finished the day two-for-four with three RBI.
Relief pitchers Samuel Burgos and Carlos Diaz were able to maintain the lead for Colombia from inning five through seven. The duo did not allow a hit in four innings combined. Jhon Peluffo ran into trouble in the bottom of the eighth, ultimately relinquishing the three-run lead. Jose Cardona jolted the comeback with a lead off single, and moved to second and third as Peluffo lost the strike zone, walking two batters in a row to load the bases. Rodolfo Amador and Orlando Pina got the job done down the stretch. Amador drove in two runs with a single to left field and Pina drove in one run of his own to tie the game 6-6.
Mexico completed the comeback in the bottom of the ninth. Julian Ornelas singled to lead off the inning, and was moved to second on a sacrifice bunt. Colombia optioned to intentionally walk the next two hitters. With one out and bases loaded, an inside pitch that got away from Oscar Marcelino hit Roberto Valenzuela on his elbow, to bring home the game-winning run for Mexico, 7-6 the final score.
Colombia will look to bounce back against Curacao tomorrow afternoon at 12 p.m ET. at Estadio Forum in La Guaira. Mexico will face Cuba at 1:30 p.m. ET. at La Rinconada in Caracas. Every game of the 2023 Caribbean Series is available via ESPN Deportes and streamed online on ESPN+.