By Julian Guilarte
World Baseball Network
Leones Del Caracas of Venezuela was down 6-2 against Curacao after two innings, but battled back late, scoring three times in the top of the seventh and again in the top of the eighth to pull out an 8-6 victory at the Caribbean Series Tuesday evening.
Venezuela scored the first two runs of the game off Curacao’s starting pitcher Cody Mincey.
Venezuela’s starting pitcher David Eliud Ramos got rocked, giving up six runs in the first two innings. Shortstop Andrelton Simmons got Curacao’s first hit with a single, and outfielder Sharlon Schoop got a double. Outfielder Wladimir Balentien drove in Simmons with an infield single for Curacao’s first run.
And then the wheels really fell for Ramos in the second inning, who couldn’t record an out and gave up five earned runs in the frame as Venezuela fell behind 6-2.
Outfielder Ray-Patrick Didder drove in three runs with a bases-clearing double. Second baseman Jonathon Schoop hit an RBI single to make it 5-2. Schoop is a 10-year MLB veteran who has played for the Baltimore Orioles, Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers with 174 career home runs and has one All-Star appearance. Jonathan’s brother Sharlon grounded into a double play that brought in the sixth run.
The game stayed deadlocked at 6-2 for four innings. Venezuela relief pitcher Ricardo Antonio Pinto held Curacao scoreless through those four innings with three strikeouts.
Venezuela’s bats woke up in the seventh inning as Curacao’s starting pitcher Cody Mincey hit a wall. Shortstop Orlando Arcia hit an RBI single to make it 6-3. Designated hitter Wilfredo Jose Tovar had an RBI ground-out to make it 6-4, and then first baseman Isaias Tejada drew a bases-loaded walk to make it 6-5.
And then Mincey was done, giving up five runs over six innings with three strikeouts. Mincey, 30, is a relief pitcher in the Miami Marlins organization who has never made the majors, but pitched in Triple-A with Jacksonville.
Venezuela was in striking distance, going into the eighth still down 6-5. Edgar Ernesto Garcia was extremely wild on the mound for Curacao, walking three batters and throwing a wild pitch that allowed Venezuela to tie the game at six apiece.
The hometown crowd was going crazy at the once-improbable thought of winning. Garcia was pulled after another walk and relief pitcher Juan Carlos Sulbarán entered the game.
Outfielder Danny Vásquez hit a game-winning ground-rule double to drive in two runs, putting Venezuela up 8-6.
Venezuela closed out the game in the ninth with Anthony Vizcaya recording his second save of the tournament.
The loss nearly eliminated Curacao from Thursday’s semifinals with a record of 2-4. They will finish up the tournament playing the Dominican Republic Wednesday at 1 p.m. ET at Estadio Forum in La Guaira, and need to win by at least 10 runs in that game to advance. Venezuela improved to 4-2 with the win and will face Colombia at 6:30 p.m. ET Wednesday at La Rinconada. The 2023 Caribbean Series is available via ESPN Deportes and streaming live on ESPN+.