Thursday, February 09, 2017

Criollos de Caguas Capture Series del Caribe 2017 Title for Puerto Rico

From the desk of: Winter League/Serie del Caribe


Puerto Rico   1
Mexico          0

Los Criollos de Caguas Bring Caribbean Championship Back to Puerto Rico.

La Yeguita ha llegado ...

!Los Criollos de Caguas son campeones del Caribe!

Seventeen years in the making ... the Borinquen delegation from Caguas defeated Mexico's Aguilas de Mexciali to capture the winter league's Serie del Caribe 2017 title.

They say one of the hardest things to do in Caribbean beisbol is beating Mexico, in Mexico.  Yet, Caguas did just that, overcoming the heavily favored Mexicali Eagles in extra innings Tuesday evening in the city of Culiacan.

After opening the Caribbean tournament with three consecutive loses against Mexico, Venezuela, and Cuba, los Criollos parlayed their lone first round victory over Relublico Dominicana into a semi-final appearance versus Venezuela.

Once there, Caguas avenged their opening round loss against Aguilas de Zulia with a 9-6 victory in Monday's penultimate game, and thereby earned themselves a tournament rematch against Mexico in the Serie final.

Los Criollos de Caguas prevailed 1-0 in ten innings over los Aguilas de Mexicali in the series finale before a dismayed crowd at Tomateros Stadium to capture this year's Caribbean crown for Puerto Rico.

This marks Puerto Rico's 15th Serie del Caribe title, and their first since 2000 when los Cangrejeros de Santurce last accomplished the feat.

Meanwhile, this is los Criollos de Caguas fourth Serie del Caribe title in their history, but only their first since 1987.

The thirty years wait finally ended Tuesday evening when Caguas shortstop Yadiel Rivera led off the top of the tenth inning against Mexicali with a double to right, advanced to third on a sacrifice by second basemen Jesmuel Valentin, then scored the lone run of the game on catcher Jonathan Morales' sac-fly to center.

In the bottom of the tenth, Criollos reliever Miguel Mejia retired los Aguilas de Mexicali in order to earn the win, and close out Puerto Rico's ultimate victory.

Starter Adalberto Flores faced 18 batters through six innings pitched, allowing just one hit and a walk.

Analyze all you want, they are special and believed - GM Alex Cora

Believe in themselves they did ... when it seemed as if no one else did.

Having ended their regular season with a slightly sub par .500 record, they've been labeled underdogs the day since Puerto Rico's LBPRC regular season ended and this improbable post-season journey began.  Few liked their chances against los Indios de Mayaguez in the league's semi-final, and even less liked their chances for getting by los Cangrejeros de Santurce in the LBPRC Serie Final.

Were it not for a ponderous Dominican exit from the Serie del Caribe, we may not even be having this conversation.  But Puerto Rico's road to the Caribbean title undeniably reaffirms the notion los Criollos simply continued winning when the games mattered most.

Upon conclusion of round robin play, Venezuela entered the semi-final game the top seeded team, yet fell to Caguas.  And while los Criollos entered the Serie final game with a 2-3 record, los Aguilas de Mexicali entered the final game with a Serie best 4-1 mark, and likewise fell to Caguas.

Parque Yldefonso Sola Morales
Home of 2017 Caribbean Champions

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