Starting pitcher Ricardo Antonio Pinto of the Tiburones de La Guaira of Venezuela throws the ball in the second inning of a game between Venezuela and Mexico at loanDepot Park as part of Serie del Caribe 2024 on February 5, 2024 in Miami, Florida. (Photo by Luis Gutierrez/Norte Photo/Getty Images)
By Conor Liguori
World Baseball Network
MIAMI – After losing 6-2 to Puerto Rico on Sunday, the Tiburones de La Guaira of Venezuela rebounded to defeat the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of Mexico 6-1 on Monday afternoon in the 2024 Caribbean Series.
Outfielder Yasiel Puig was not in the starting lineup for Venezuela after going 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Sunday’s game against Puerto Rico. It was just a day off for Puig, who was not reported to be injured.
The first two innings saw little action on the base paths, with Venezuela starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto striking out four of the first six batters he faced.
Mexico took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the third on an RBI ground ball single by Roberto Valenzuela that went past second baseman Alcides Escobar. The hit raised Valenzuela’s 2024 Caribbean Series batting average to .400.
Venezuela sent a pair of fly balls off the bats of Wilson Ramos and Hernan Perez to the center field warning track in the top of the fourth, but they were easily flagged down by Mexico’s Randy Romero a few steps in front of the wall.
Mexico starting pitcher Zach Matson was replaced by reliever Joe Van Meter in the top of the fifth inning.
Matson allowed two hits and struck out four in four innings. With Alexi Amarista in scoring position at second base, Van Meter induced a weak ground ball from Wilfredo Tovar for the third out of the inning.
Venezuela’s Ramon Flores made a spectacular throw from right field in the bottom half of the fifth, nabbing catcher Alexis Wilson attempting to move from first to third on the play. With runners on first and second two batters later, Mexico failed to capitalize on a possible scoring opportunity when Aaron Altherr grounded out to end the inning.
Venezuela starting pitcher Ricardo Pinto was replaced by reliever Jorgan Cavanerio in the bottom of the sixth inning. Pinto finished his afternoon with one earned run and eight strikeouts in five innings. The Mexico hitters swung and missed 12 times against the right hander.
Venezuela took a 2-1 lead in the top of the seventh on back-to-back clutch RBI singles from Amarista and Tovar to center field. A few batters later, designated hitter Wilson Ramos extended Venezuela’s lead to two with an RBI single to right field.
The biggest hit of the game came off the bat of catcher Luis Torrens, who hit a line drive bases-clearing double over the outstretched glove of Mexico third baseman Agustin Murillo to put Venezuela ahead 6-1 in the seventh. Murillo miraculously almost made the catch, but it rolled down the left field foul line.
Mexico went down quietly in the final three innings, with Venezuela relievers Silvan Bracho and Anthony Vizcaya combining to allow just one hit in the seventh and eighth innings.
Reliever Arnaldo Hernandez came into the game in the ninth inning for Venezuela and retired three Mexico hitters in order to secure the 6-1 win.
Venezuela (3-1) will face Panama at 8:30 p.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 6. Mexico (1-4) will face Nicaragua at 10:30 a.m. EST, also on Tuesday.
All of the 2024 Caribbean Series games will be televised on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ until the final out of the championship game on Feb. 9.