The Tiburones de La Guaira won the first Caribbean Series title in franchise history, beating the Tigres del Licey at loanDepot Park in Miami Friday night. (Photo courtesy of the CBPC)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
MIAMI – The Tiburones de La Guaira of the Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional won their first Caribbean Series title Friday night, beating the 2023-24 LIDOM champion Tigres del Licey 3-0 at loanDepot Park in Miami.
Venezuela has eight Caribbean Series titles dating back to the first year of the tournament in 1949, when Puerto Rico, Cuba and Panama participated in the event from 1949-60.
The Tiburones de La Guaira have won eight Liga Venezolana Beisbol Profesional championships and appeared in the Caribbean Series five times in 1971, 1983, 1984, and 1986 previously before earning a spot at the 2024 event in Miami.
During the top of the first inning, the Dominican Republic threatened to get on the board first as second baseman Robinson Cano poked a double down the left field line with two outs.
The next batter, Tigres del Licey third baseman Dawel Lugo hit a fly ball to left-center field, and Venezuela left fielder Yasiel Puig dove to make the last out of the the top of the first inning to keep the Dominican Republic from scoring.
It was the best chance the Dominican Republic would get.
In the top of the fourth inning, the Dominican Republic threatened once again and failed to get on the board when designated hitter Yadiel Hernandez struck out swinging and Cano attempted to steal second base and was tagged out standing up, as he was well behind the throw of Venezuela catcher Luis Torrens.
During the bottom of the fourth inning, Venezuela cracked the scoreboard, and it started with Puig hitting a ground ball single to center field to start the inning. Tiburones de La Guaira manager Ozzie Guillen called on pinch runner Odubel Herrera for Puig.
Francys Romero of beisbolfr.com reported Puig had suffered a left hamstring injury when he came up limping running to first base on a ground ball fielder’s choice to Dominican Republic shortstop Gustavo Nunez in the bottom of the first inning.
A few batters later, Torrens laid down a sacrifice bunt to the left side of the infield and Tigres del Licey starting pitcher Cesar Valdez fielded the ball and threw over to Cano covering first base for the first out of the inning, while Herrera went to third base and right fielder Ramon Flores went to second.
A few moments later, Venezuela’s Alcides Escobar lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Herrera to go up 1-0.
During the bottom of the fifth inning, Tiburones de La Guaira added another run. After Wilfredo Tovar roped a line drive single to start the inning, the next batter, Hernan Perez, smacked a triple into the right-center field gap, scoring Tovar from first base to extend the lead to 2-0.
Tigres del Licey manager Gilbert Gomez came out of the dugout to take out Valdez for Jonathan Aro. Valdez threw four innings, allowing three earned runs, seven hits, three walks, and one strikeout through 69 pitches facing 21 batters.
A few batters later, left fielder Herrera hit a ground ball out to Cano with Perez going on contact from third base and he came in to score to make it 3-0.
Venezuela starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto mowed down the Dominican Republic offense during the championship game on Friday night.
Pinto entered the top of the sixth inning with an his impressive pitching performance on Friday night. He got into a little jam during the top of the sixth inning, walking Cano with two outs and hitting Lugo before he was taken out of the game by Tiburones manager Ozzie Guillen for Jorgan Cavanerio.
Pinto faced 22 batters and threw 87 pitches with 5.2 innings under his belt, allowing four hits, no earned runs, one walk, and striking out six batters.
The Venezuela bullpen carried on, with Cavanerio, Silvino Bracho, and Anthony Vizcaya combining to allow two hits and strike out three batters before Arnaldo Hernandez entered the game in the top of the ninth inning.
Hernandez mowed down the Tigres del Licey offense 1-2-3 in the top of the ninth inning and he got Kelvin Gutierrez to ground out to second baseman Alexi Amarista for the final out of the game.
Venezuela starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto was named MVP for the 2024 Caribbean Series. Pinto threw 10.2 innings in two starts at the 2024 tournament and allowed 10 hits, one earned run, two walks, and struck out 14 batters. Pinto posted a 1.80 ERA during the pool round in one start against the 2023-24 Liga ARCO Mexicana del Pacífico champion Naranjeros de Hermosillo on Feb. 5.
Venezuela had not won a Caribbean series title prior to the Tiburones’ Friday night win since the 2009 tournament at Estadio Nido de los Aguilas in Mexicali, Mexico, where Tigres de Aragua manager Buddy Bailey led the franchise to a 5-1 record at the event.
The Tiburones de La Guaira finished in second place at the 1983 tournament when the event was based as an overall record tournament finishing 4-2 behind the Lobos de Arecibo of the Liga de Béisbol Profesional Roberto Clemente in Puerto Rico at 5-1.
Current Miami Marlins players Luis Arraez and Eury Perez threw out the first pitches prior to the start of the 2024 Caribbean Series championship game.
Tiburones manager Ozzie Guillen became the first Latino manager to win a World Series title with the Chicago White Sox in 2005 and a Caribbean Series title with the win.
Tommy Lasorda was the only manager to win a Caribbean Series championship in 1973 with Tigres del Licey and a World Series championship, doing so twice, in 1981 and 1988 with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Lasorda and Guillen are the only managers to have won a winter league title, a Caribbean Series championship and a World Series.
Don’t Get The Mexicali Blues – The 2025 Caribbean Series will be played at Estadio Nido de los Aguilas in Mexicali, Mexico. No dates have been announced or the amount of teams that will participate for next year’s Caribbean Series after the 2024-25 winter league season playoffs.
Big Game, Big Crowd – There were 36,677 fans in attendance for the championship game on Friday night, which is the largest crowd in the history of the Caribbean Series since the tournament started in 1949.
The record for attendance at loanDepot Park was held during the championship game at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, which drew 36,098.
The Dominican Republic vs. Puerto Rico pool play game on Feb. 3 drew 35,972 fans.
The first game of the 2023 Caribbean Series, where the Leones del Caracas of Venezuela played the 2022-23 ProBeis Panama league champion Federales de Chiriquí, attracted 35,691 fans at Estadio La Rinconada in Caracas, Venezuela.
Primero Vez Adentro – This was the first time that the Caribbean Series was held at a Major League Baseball stadium, and the first time Caribbean Series games were played indoors. The first 23 games of the 2024 Caribbean Series were played with the loanDepot Park roof closed, and the third place game and championship game were played with the roof open.
2024 Caribbean Series All-Star Team
Catcher – Ivan Herrera – Federales de Chiriquí – Panamá
First Base – Hernán Pérez – Tiburones de La Guaira – Venezuela
Second Base – Robinson Cano – Tigres del Licey – Dominican Republic
Third Base – Dawel Lugo – Tigres del Licey – Dominican Republic
Shortstop – Jack Lopez – Criollos de Caguas – Puerto Rico
Left Field – Aaron Altherr – Naranjeros de Hermosillo – México
Center Field – Alexi Amarista – Tiburones de La Guaira – Venezuela
Right Field – Wladimir Balentien – Curacao Suns – Curacao
Starting Pitcher – Angel Padron – Tiburones de La Guaira – Venezuela
Relief Pitcher – Jairo Ascencio – Tigres del Licey – Dominican Republic
Designated Hitter – Nelson Velazquez – Criollos de Caguas – Puerto Rico
Manager – Jose Mayorga – Federales de Chiriqui – Panamá