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Guyana Baseball Federation partners with E-Networks to broadcast nation’s first-ever Baseball ‘Talent Search’ Reality TV Show

By IBAF

Guyana’s Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport has expressed great interest in the rise of baseball’s popularity in Guyana.

Less than three years after its establishment, Guyana’s national baseball federation, theGuyana Baseball League (GBL), has announced a partnership with Guyana cable TV/Info Tech giant E-Networks Inc. on the production of the nation’s first-ever baseball reality TV show,“Baseball Star”.

The joint venture between the GBL and E-Networks Inc.—which completed its first week of baseball auditions/filming at the end of Februarywill see initial broadcast delivery of Baseball Star’s episodes through E-Networks’ channel 1 in HD. The week following each episode, E-Networks will distribute Baseball Star content across its various media platforms and to all the major and local network television stations throughout Guyana to build a national audience.

USA Baseball CEO Paul Seiler—whose federation has given support to GBL on mapping out a strategic-plan for growth—applauded the concept of Guyana’s Baseball Star ‘talent search’ reality TV show.

“Truly groundbreaking. It will be interesting to watch this unfold,” said Seiler. “Well done.”

Guyana’s Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr. Frank Anthony, has taken note of the new baseball reality TV show and also expressed great interest in the pace with which the GBL has been growing baseball’s popularity in Guyana, especially among school-aged children, all of which has prompted the Ministry Of Culture, Youth & Sport to post an official statement on its website just a few weeks ago, in order to speak on baseball’s advancement in Guyana.

A similar ‘talent search’ in India generated massive national interest from the media and young aspiring baseball athletes, the subject of which has grown into Disney’s “Million Dollar Arm” movie, which is set to be released to worldwide theaters and audiences beginning in May.

The GBL, under President Robin Singh, was only established in 2011 and became recognised the following year as Guyana’s national governing body for baseball by the International Baseball Federation.

Situated in South America with neighbours Venezuela—where baseball is the national sport—and the emerging baseball country of Brazil, Guyana appears to be uniquely positioned for growth, to establish National Teams and to enter into international competitions in the short- to mid-term.

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New Baseball World Rankings – USA Ends Cuba’s Four Year Reign

USA Baseball has ended Cuba’s 4-year reign at the top of the World Baseball Rankings after a productive year in 2013.

The International Baseball Federation has used the World Baseball Ranking system since 2009, and each year Cuba has been at the top.

Team USA had a disappointing second round exit at the World Baseball Classic, but then picked up gold medals at the 12U Baseball World Cup and the 18U Baseball World Cup. Also giving Team USA points this summer was its “Friendship” series with Cuba where the USA’s National Collegiate Team won all five games.

Also jumping up in the standings was Japan who went from the third ranked country to the second also surpassing Cuba in the process. In the big tournaments of the year, Japan placed third at the World Baseball Classic, second at the 18U World Baseball Cup, and third again at the 12U Baseball World Cup.

The Dominican Republic made one of the bigger jumps in the standings after its win at the World Baseball Classic going from 13th a year ago to 5th.

The Netherlands remain the top European country in the standings as they swapped places with Canada moving up to 6th place.

The Americas continue to be the strongest in the polls collecting eleven of the top twenty spots. Asia and Europe combined take up 40% of the top twenty with both continents placing four teams. The last top twenty team comes from Oceania with Australia coming in at 14th.

Africa’s top representative is South Africa in at number 31.

Men’s Baseball World Rankings Top 10:

1. USA
2. Japan
3. Cuba
4. Chinese Taipei
5. Dominican Republic
6. Netherlands
7. Canada
8. South Korea
9. Puerto Rico
10. Venezuela

Complete World Rankings

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Cuban Slugger Jose Abreu Defects

According to the el Nuevo Herald, Jose Abreu has left Cuba and is reportedly in another Caribbean nation in order to defect to the USA. Ben Badler at Baseball America has also confirmed the story.

Abreu is one of the stars from Cuba. He tied for the lead in home runs in the 2013 World Baseball Classic hitting .360/.385/.760.

He is looking to follow in the footsteps of recent defectors Yoenis Cespedes, Yasiel Puig, and Aroldis Champman. Puig defected in 2012 and signed a 7-year, $42 million contract and has become a sensation since being called up by the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Abreu is a power-hitting first baseman. At the age of only 26, he stands to land a huge contract once he has established residency in another country. It will be a few months before he is able to sign with a team, but look for a team to make a splash in the off season with Abreu.

At 6’3″ and 250 lbs, Abreu is an imposing figure at the plate. He has tremendous power to all fields and has proven himself not only in Cuba, but on the international stage as well.

The lack of first base free agents in the market this upcoming off season will really help Abreu’s value on the open market.

He is the second player to defect this summer. In early July, 26-year old pitcher Odrisamer Despaigne defected while on the way to the Netherlands for the World Port Tournament.

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MLB Says No to Cuba in Caribbean Series

In mid-June Cuba said it would rejoin the Caribbean Series after a 53-year absence. However, that may now be in jeopardy thanks to Major League Baseball.

A Major League Baseball official told the organizers of the Caribbean Series that it would not cooperate with the 2014 tournament if Cuba is allowed to play.

Consent from MLB is crucial since many of the players that play for the teams are under contract to MLB clubs. But the Baseball Confederation of the Caribbean is working on obtaining a license from the US Government to allow a Cuban team in the 2014 tournament scheduled for February 1-7 in Venezuela.

In the early years of the tournament, Cuba was dominant. It won seven titles from 1949-1960. Then Fidel Castro took over, and he dissolved professional baseball canceling the 1961 tournament. After a nine year absence, the tournament restarted in 1970 without Cuba. That is how it has been ever since.

So earlier this year when it was announced that Cuba would rejoin the Series, there were many people who were very excited. Now that all may be in jeopardy because of two governments that can’t get along.

Another hitch in the plan is the plan for the Caribbean Series to return to the United States in another four years or so. The Series has been in talks with the Miami Marlins about the possibility of using their stadium to return to the area where the tournament was played as recent as 1991.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that Cuba participates in the World Baseball Classic, which partly takes place in the USA. So many are asking why MLB would try to ban a team from Cuba from playing in the Caribbean Series when it is allowed in the WBC.

It was announced on MLB’s official website on June 11 that Cuba would be joining the Series. Just over a month later, MLB sent out an ultimatum to the Confederation.

According to Diario Libre, which obtained a copy of the letter dated July 15, MLB Vice President of Operations Kim Ng wrote to Puello that MLB would grant the Confederation 24 hours to retract its agreement with Cuba. Otherwise, MLB will decline to sign its annual Caribbean Series agreement with the Confederation. U.S. sanctions, Ng said in the letter, require MLB to apply for licenses, and there is not enough time to do so before the tournament.¹

It appears that the Confederation has until August 15 to rescind the invitation to Cuba. If they fail to do so by that day, MLB will be unable to sign the annual agreement for the 2014 tournament.

¹ Cuba Standard (2013-08-07) “MLB threatens to pull plug on Caribbean Series over Cuba

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USA 15U Wins Pan American Games Gold Medal

BARRANQUILLA, Colombia – The 15U USA Baseball Team defeated Cuba 6-1 on Sunday afternoon to claim the 2013 COPABE Pan American Championships. With the win, Team USA finished off the tournament with a perfect 8-0 record.

In the Championship Game, Cuba jumped out to an early 1-0 lead. It stayed that way until the bottom of the fourth when USA jumped out with five runs of its own. Andrew Vaughn (1-for-2) had the big blow of the inning hitting a three-run home run to put the Red, White, and Blue up 3-1.

That’s all Mason Thompson would need on the mound. He gave up just one run on three hits in six innings. He struck out six earning the win for Team USA. Thompson helped himself out at the plate as well. In the five-run fourth inning, Thompson contributed with a RBI triple.

Team USA ran through the pool play undefeated and then almost fell in the semifinal round to Panama. They needed a two-run rally in the bottom of the seventh inning to pull out the 5-4 win and advance to the finals. In that inning, Team USA scored two runs on zero hits. They were aided heavily by two Panama errors.

However, that wasn’t the first late comeback they needed. In the pool play against Cuba, Team USA scored six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning to pull out an 11-9 win and remain undefeated. In that inning, the USA knocked out eight of its fifteen hits to take the late lead.

Photo Courtesy USA Baseball

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Mexico: The Tomateros de Culiacan Release New Stadium Design

The Tomateros de Culiacan of the Mexican Pacific League have announced the design for their new stadium.

The new stadium, slated to open in August 2014, could possibly be used for the next Caribbean Series in Mexico. The rotation for Mexico will come around once again three years after the opening of the stadium.

The stadium will seat around 18,000 fans and during the unveiling of the stadium plans, a video was released showing what it would look like.

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Cuban Odrisamer Despaigne Defects During Flight to the Netherlands

Once again a Cuban player has used the World Port Tournament to defect. The tournament has seen this the past two times it was played as well (Aroldis Chapman in 2009 and Gerardo Concepcion in 2011).

This time it was 26-year old Odrisamer Despaigne did the same thing during a layover in Paris at Charles de Gaulle Airport. The team suspects that Despaigne traveled to Spain where his father lives.

Despaigne just finished up his sixth season in the Cuban National Series where he pitched for the Industriales. This past season he pitched 143 innings striking out 98. He posted a 3.27 ERA and a 10-5 record.

Photo courtesy World Baseball Classic Inc.

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USA Baseball Announces Friendship Series with Cuba

USA Baseball and the Cuban Baseball Federation announced an upcoming series between the two countries Collegiate National Teams. The two will compete in an international friendship series for the second year in a row. This year, Cuba will travel to the USA and play a five-game series.

The teams will compete across three states from July 18-23.

The two teams will first face off in Des Moines, Iowa for Game 1. They will then move onto Omaha for Games 2 and 3 before heading east to North Carolina to finish off the series.

Read more here with the complete press release by USA Baseball.

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Argentina: American Expat Teaching Youth Baseball in Buenos Aires

For the past few years Paul Perry and the Buenos Aires Shankees, an expat baseball team playing the Argentina capital, have been friends of Baseball de World. And now the American expat is doing something great for the kids in Buenos Aires that we felt needed to be shared.

At a small bilingual school called Sir Thomas Malory Perry is teaching young kids the great game of baseball. The school has become the first one to adopt baseball as an official sport in a soccer crazed country.

During morning breaks, Perry teaches 6th and 7th grade students the game. But only those students who complete their homework and don’t misbehave in the classroom. The grades are broken down with the 6th graders practicing on Tuesdays and Thursdays and the 7th graders on Mondays and Wednesdays. On Fridays both grades get together to practice.

However, this is not an easy task for Perry. Baseball is not a popular sport in Argentina. Soccer rules the sports world there and most, if not all, of the students he teaches have never played the game before. Overall there are 30 players who are participating with only one, Perry’s 11-year old son Henry, that has any experience.

But experience isn’t the only issues he has run into so far. With 30 players, Perry only has 20 gloves and six practice balls. The league the Shankees play in has helped out with a few old gloves and balls, and the school has helped out by providing an equipment bag. But the kids are still in need.

They practice on a rugby field with old white sofa cushions as bases. In fact there are only two baseball fields in the city, and Perry is hoping to get approval to move the practices to one of them in the future.

The program will go year-round and hopefully the sport will catch on with some of the students. There is a Little League in the city, La Liga Metropolitana de Beisbol, and Perry hopes to be competing in that in the future.

It’s a long road ahead for the program, but it is off to a good start thanks to the hard work and dedication of Paul Perry. If you would like the help out the program in some way, contact Paul through the Shankees Website. They are in need of pretty much everything baseball related.

And if you want to learn more about the program and how the kids are doing, check them out on the Baseball Buenos Aires Facebook Page.

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New World Baseball Softball Body Born at Historic Tokyo Congress

Marks Milestone toward Olympic Games Inclusion

New Olympic Campaign Logo, Theme, Social Media Platforms “PlayBall2020.com” and Vision to Give Every Boy & Girl Chance to Play Ball also Launched.

Join the PlayBall2020 Lineup on Facebook and show your support!

Press Release from World Baseball Softball Confederation

TOKYO – Baseball and softball players, supporters, and fans worldwide – from professional leagues to local clubs and junior teams – have come out ‘Swinging For The Fences’ and pitching for the Olympic Games, following the launch of a global campaign to get baseball and softball back into the Games

The campaign was launched in Tokyo, one of the global power centres for the two sports. It followed an historic vote by international baseball and softball federation leaders and delegates worldwide  – from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, including China, India, Iraq, Russia, Brunei, Nigeria, Ghana, Pakistan, Fiji, South Africa and many other nations – to ratify a landmark constitution that unites the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) and International Softball Federation (ISF) as a single new international sporting federation, known as the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC).

NEW WORLD BASEBALL SOFTBALL BODY BORN

The birth of the world’s newest international sporting federation is a milestone in the campaign to rejoin the Olympic Games sports program after being delisted in 2005.

“This is an historic day”, said IBAF president and WBSC co-president, Riccardo Fraccari. “We have brought a new level of worldwide unity and determination to our quest to return to the Games.  The 65 million currently playing baseball and softball around the world now have a single federation to rally behind.”

President Fraccari said the international baseball community was “honoured and humbled” to have the opportunity to rejoin the Olympic Games in 2020,  and thanked the IOC for guidance and trust provided in forming the new federation, which he said would “provide greater support and resources for the athletes and help to develop the sports”.

Fraccari continued: “We are on a great journey to return our global sport to the Olympic stage. We’ve been listening and learning from the Olympic Family and the IOC to understand what it takes to be included as a sport at the Olympic Games.”

“This is in the best interests of the athletes and putting the welfare of the athletes and the future of sport first, and inspiring young athletes to stand on the highest podium that an athlete can aspire to—the Olympic Games,” he said.

“We have reached a milestone in our journey to put baseball and softball back in the Olympic Games, and today I am proud to announce that the full membership of the International Baseball Federation voted to ratify the new Constitution of the World Baseball Softball Confederation.”

WBSC SHARED VISION TO REACH YOUTH

The WBSC also outlined its unique vision for the campaign. “Our vision is to give every boy and girl in the world a chance to play baseball and softball and to inspire them to take up the sport through the Olympic Games,” said ISF President and WBSC co-President, Don Porter.

“Baseball-softball is a game that anyone, anywhere can play.  There are no barriers to participation.  If you’ve got a bat and ball you can play, regardless of age, gender, social, cultural or economic stature.

“Baseball and softball help to empower women and provide pathways for women and young girls to experience and participate in sport in all cultures,” said Porter.

NEW CAMPAIGN SLOGAN, WEBSITE AND LOGO

The WBSC also revealed the theme for its Olympic Games campaign, “Swing for the Fences,” heralding a global call-to-action for baseball and softball players, supporters and teams to rally behind the Olympic Games bid.

A new website for the campaign was revealed: PlayBall2020.com. Social media platforms to engage and enable baseball and softball communities worldwide were also unveiled to highlight the massive following the sports have and to share the passion to rejoin the Olympic Games.

The WBSC’s new logo for the campaign was also unveiled. It symbolizes the unique appeal that has made baseball and softball among the world’s most watched, followed and commercially successful sporting brands and experiences.

The new federation and Olympic Games inclusion campaign, has the support of players worldwide, and was launched by two of Japans softball stars, Yukiko Ueno, who pitched the Japanese team to the Gold Medal at the Beijing Olympic Games, and Nana Okamura, a new rising star who pitched Japan to victory in U16 ISF Softball World Cup and became the youngest player ever on Japan’s national team.

ATHLETE AND PROFESSIONAL LEAGUE SUPPORT OF 2020 OLYMPIC CAMPAIGN

The WBSC’s Olympic Games campaign is also supported by professional baseball and softball leagues around the word, including Nippon Professional Baseball, Major League Baseball in the United States, Korean Baseball Organization, the Chinese Professional Baseball Leagues, and numerous league partners in Latin America, Australia and Europe, who are united in their desire to participate in the Olympic Games.

“I am sure that all of my counterparts in the professional leagues share our enthusiasm for Olympic baseball and softball,“ said Nippon Professional Baseball Commissioner and former Japan US Ambassador, Ryozo Kato, who said in an emotional address to the Congress, telling delegates that baseball had helped Japan to recover and grow after the devastation of the second world war, and was a catalyst for peace, uniting nations and people from diverse cultures and backgrounds.

Worldwide respected Japan baseball legend, Sadaharu Oh, also made a strong personal appeal for support to get baseball back into the Olympic Games, while the President of the Japanese Olympic Committee and IOC member, Tsunekazu Takeda, said he would like to see the excitement and joy of baseball experienced by people all over the world, especially among young people.

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Nicaragua Wins Baseball Gold at X Central American Games

Nicaragua wins thrilling Gold Medal Game against Panama to prevail in Costa Rica

Nicaragua has won the Gold Medal at the X Central American Games in San Jose, Costa Rica. The team of manager Noel Areas defeated Panama 6-5 in the Gold Medal Game. Ofilio Castro drove in the decisive run with a walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth.

Nicaragua had overcome a 3-4 deficit in the bottom of the eighth to take a 5-4 lead, but Panama came back against closer Gustavo Martinez in the top of the ninth, setting up the dramatic finish.

The baseball tournament at the 2013 Central American Games in Costa Rica was played from March 12 to 17 at Estadio Antonio Escarré. Six teams participated with Nicaragua winning Gold, Panama Silver and El Salvador Bronze. Guatemala, Costa Rica and Honduras were in the tournament as well.

Official Website X Central American Games

Courtesy IBAF.org

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World Baseball Classic Preview – Team Brazil

Brazil Attempts to Continue Improbable Run

By Gabriel Fidler (@gabrielfidler)

Fifth in a series of 2013 World Baseball Classic Previews

One of the greatest underdog stories of recent baseball memory came in November 2012 courtesy of Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world. Well known for its skills at football and volleyball, the South American country has only been participating in global baseball tournaments for than 20 years. Brazil stunned the baseball world by sweeping through the toughest bracket in the 2012 World Baseball Classic (WBC) Qualifiers and earning a spot in the 2013 Classic.

Brazilian Baseball History
Baseball was first played in the 1910s by American workers on short-term projects in Brazil, but did not catch on until Japanese workers began immigrating to São Paulo. Many then moved to the coffee plantations in northeast Brazil. It is there and in the richer parts of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro that the game flourishes today. By the 1920s, leagues had formed around the railways that linked the plantations.

Particularly in the north, the game is played by communities with Japanese traditions, and until the last few years had a much stronger connection to Japan.  In fact, Brazil has the largest population of Japanese in any nation other than Japan. São Paulo is behind only Tokyo as the city with the most Japanese residents.

Baseball does not yet have a domestic professional league, but if any nation is ripe for the growth of the sport, it is Brazil, a nation of almost 200 million people.   Despite ranking far behind volleyball and basketball in popularity among team sports, the national confederation claims 30,000 players in the country and a growing international connection.

“We’re playing for honor, for the name on our shirt,” stated former national team pitcher Marcelo Arai, as he gestured to his jersey in an interview with the New York Times.  The veterinary student continued, “We’re not playing for money or fame, because the truth is that we often pay out of our own pockets to be able to play.”

As Arai indicated, facilities for the sport vary widely.  According to a report by the online arm of The Globe, in parts of the country, baseball is played on futebol fields with “bases [made] from cushions”.  On the other hand, Brazil boasts one notable baseball academy in Ibiúna, funded by Japan’s Yakult Swallows.  The Tampa Bay Rays were in talks to build a second complex, but talks fell apart in 2011.  At least half a dozen MLB scouts still attend major domestic tournaments, though.

Major League Baseball International has successfully staged its Elite Camp in 2011 and 2012, which is led by Brazil’s manager for the World Baseball Classic, Hall-of-Famer Barry Larkin.  Elite Camps involve intense instruction by big league players and coaches and have been held on six continents with more than 300 players having signed professional contracts with MLB organisations.

“If there is a kid that has tremendous ability, then maybe we can create the Ronaldo or the Pelé in baseball, an iconic figure that the country gets behind,” Larkin told the online edition of Dawn in arguing that Brazil can generate high-level prospects.

Cuban-imported coaches agree.  “There is an awful lot of talent here,” Juan Yáñez, the pitching coach for the national junior team told the New York Times. “It just needs to be polished.”

This dramatic increase in foreign investment is coupled with an emphasis by the Brazilian government on augmenting their profile in world sport in conjunction with the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games.  Foreign coaches have been pouring into the country on federal contracts with the hope of improving the nation’s ranking in top world tournaments.  Despite being dropped from the Olympic programme, baseball still receives attention because of its popularity in Asia and the Americas.

There are currently 14 Brazilian born players in the United States, headlined by Yan Gomes, recently traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the Cleveland Indians.  That number may not sound noteworthy when compared to the other countries in the WBC, but consider that only 19 athletes trained in Brazil have ever signed professional baseball contracts and the number becomes much more impressive.

Additionally, more than 30 compete in Japanese and Taiwanese leagues, according to Olivio Sawasato, vice president of the baseball federation in Brazil.  Three of those are on top clubs in the NPBL.

The swelling numbers of Brazilian baseball players is important in a country that is still trying to establish the sport at a local level.  Everaldo Marques, an ESPN broadcaster for the Brazil’s weekly Sunday MLB game, reflected to the New York Times on the significance of each player signed to a US contract: “Brazilians like rooting for their fellow countrymen, so once we get a Brazilian playing in Major League Baseball, that will help popularize the sport.”

Gomes became the first Brazilian in the big leagues when he debuted May 17, 2012 for the Blue Jays, but will miss the WBC after being traded to the Cleveland Indians just before the qualifying tournament. Gomes is attempting to crack the Indians’ Opening Day roster and has remained in spring training.

The catcher’s bat and experience behind the plate will be sorely missed. A career .287 hitter with an OPS over .800 in the minors, Gomes earned his first major league hit in his second at bat, and his first four-bagger a day later.  He finished with a .204/.264/.367 line in 43 games, playing four positions.  Gomes totalled four home runs in only 98 at bats.

“Growing up in Brazil you would never think of [playing in the majors],” expressed Gomes after his debut. “Coming out here and having it, it seems like it happened so fast, so I definitely have to take it in. I’m really proud of it. It’s an honour to represent my country.”

Gomes’ career and Brazil’s success in November may be just the catalyst needed for baseball to see a surge of popularity. After Larkin’s men swept the qualifiers, beisebol was a top-100 trending word on Twitter in Brazil, and the preparations for the main draw have elicited some excitement in the country.

“The community of baseball fans in Brazil is still limited but it can develop and it can grow,” Larkin told Terra recently. “It doesn’t happen overnight. I know that traditionally this is the country of soccer, but Brazil is also strong in other sports, such as volley, so the hope is that we can recruit athletes to play our sport in the future.”

Brazil in International Tournaments
Though the country played in four Pan-American Games (PAG) between 1951 and 1983 and sent a team to the Amateur World Series (later renamed the Baseball World Cup) in 1972, it did not truly begin competing with top-level talent until 1995.

That year, Brazil played once more in the PAG, but also in the Intercontinental Cup, a minor world championship, finishing fifth.   It was another seven years before Brazil competed in a global tournament, but has been regular participants since.  The quality of the Brazilian national team has risen in the last decade thanks to an agreement with Cuba that allows Cuban coaches to assist with development of the game in Brazil.

Cuba almost tasted the fruit of their success in the 2003 Baseball World Cup.  Brazil advanced all the way to the quarterfinals in the competition and faced perennial titans Cuba in the round.  The blue-and-gold nearly pulled off what would have been one of the greatest upsets in international baseball history, needing only three outs to secure a 3-2 victory.  Brazil’s bullpen could not hold Cuba, who rallied for a 4-3 win and eventually, the Cup title.  Brazil settled for seventh in 8-3 decision over a weak South Korean side.

The blue-and-gold competed in a number of events over the next five years. The highlight was when Brazil hosted the South American Baseball Championship in 2005, defeating Venezuela to earn the continental title.

Brazil had a lull in international competition from 2009-11.  In 2010, the team did not enter teams in the South American Games or Baseball World Cup Qualifying Round.  Despite this, in 2011 Brazil was rated the eighth-best team by COPABE, the governing body for baseball in the Americas, mostly on the body of work in amateur and youth tournaments.  They also climbed five places up the world rankings to No. 33.

They rose five places in the IBAF ratings in 2012, but no one could have predicted Brazil’s dominant performance in the WBC qualifying round. Brazil did not even field a team for the South American Championship and was expected to bow out quickly in a qualifier that had Panamá, Colómbia, and Nicaragua.

In the opener, Brazil set the theme for the rest of the qualifying tournament. Each game featured a starting pitcher who battled through a few innings, a lineup that took advantage of scoring opportunities, and a youthful bullpen which mowed down vastly more experienced hitters.

Against Panamá in game one, it was Rienzo who started, while Paulo Orlando and Leonardo Reginatto with key hits. Murilo Gouvea (single-A), Kesley Kondo (University of Utah), and Thyago Vieira (rookie league) who disposed of a mostly major league lineup.

Reginatto, who played the last two years in low-A ball, was the hero again in game two. He rapped three of Brazil’s 11 hits, while Oscar Nakaoshi kept Colómbia off the scoreboard through four. Larkin then expertly used his bullpen once more.

Gabriel Asakura, who pitches for California State University at Los Angeles, whiffed five in 2 2/3 innings before Rafael Moreno (17 years old) and Daniel Missaki (16) got the last four batters to seal Brazil’s second victory.

Orlando and Reginatto teamed up again in the final, combining for five hits. Orlando scored what would be the winning run in the third inning on a single by Brazil’s first major leaguer, Yan Gomes. Rafael Fernándes tossed six shutout frames in the start, and Gouvea and Vieira shut down Panamá the rest of the way. Vieira earned his second save by striking out sluggers Carlos Lee and Rubén Rivera with runners on second and third.

Brazil hit .316 with a .746 OPS as a team, scoring only a third of the amount of runs the other three qualifying teams did. All of their offensive numbers were less than Canada, Chinese Taipei, and Spain, but they were second only to Taiwan in most pitching categories. Brazilian hurlers had a 0.67 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP, striking out seven per nine innings.

The Lineup
Larkin himself may be the key to Brazil’s success. The first-time manager pushed exactly the right buttons in Panamá. The Hall-of-Famer looked particularly astute against a loaded Panamanian team with home field advantage in a stadium named after the country’s best player (Rod Carew). The hopes of a nation are firmly pinned on his capable shoulders, and Brazil could pick up an upset with the right calls to the bullpen and platoon partners in the outfield.

With Brazil’s superstar out of the lineup, the veteran core of the blue-and-gold order will have to lead the team. Paulo Orlando will continue to occupy the leadoff spot, while the leadership of Daniel Matsumoto, Reinaldo Sato, and Tiago Magalhães will prove vital to Brazil’s chances.

Orlando was the first Brazilian named to a 40-man roster when the Kansas City Royals added the 27-yeard old in 2012 after a 2011-12 winter ball campaign in Panamá that saw him named the postseason MVP.

Before being acquired by the Royals, Orlando was named the fastest baserunner and best defensive outfielder in the Chicago White Sox system.  A former youth track star, Orlando is a career .270/.319/.403 hitter with 158 stolen bases.   He has been named an All-Star in the Texas Double-A League.

Orlando has played in two tournaments for Brazil, collecting three hits and two steals in 12 at bats during the 2007 Pan Am tourney. He was 4-for-12 with a triple in November.

Matsumoto has a .256/.304/.335 over 11 seasons for the Yakult Swallows of NPB, Japan’s big league circuit.   The veteran mans first base for Brazil.   In 2002, Matsumoto was the leading hitter for Brazil in the Intercontinental Cup and also made the All-Star Team.  He thumped the ball for a .450/.522/.950 line, stole three bases, and had six of Brazil’s 15 RBIs.  He was 3-for-11 in the WBC qualifier.

Sato first donned the blue-and-gold in 1999, playing regularly since then. He was the top hitter on Brazil’s 2003 World Cup squad, recording a . 324/.395/.622 line. Sato replicated the production in the 2008 Olympic Qualifying Tournament, recording a mark of .300/.391/.650. He was 4-for-11 in Panamá City. The second sacker was named best at his position in the industrial leagues in 2010.

Tiago Magalhães has been the most productive player internationally for Brazil.  The outfielder played for five years in the Cincinnati Reds’ minor league system, hitting .227.  Despite his US career, Magalhães is the closest thing that Brazil has to a clutch hitter, as his exploits while wearing the blue-and-gold are almost legendary.

In the 2003 World Cup, Magalhães 8-of-40 (.200), but registered a double and four home runs for a .525 slugging percentage.  He scored eight runs and drove in 10 in seven games.  Two years later, his performance was even more exemplary as he recorded a .414/.500/.621 line, driving in six in eight contests.  Magalhães was 3-for-3 against Bronze Medal-winning Panamá and was named to the All-Star team.

Magalhães did not disappoint in the qualifying tournament for the 2008 Olympics, during which he stroked the ball for a .391/.391/.870 line that included three dingers and six RBIs in five games.  Later that year, he played in the Pan American Games, but was only 1-for-6 in part-time duty, though the single hit was the aforementioned four-bagger in the win over Nicaragua. The veteran did not disappoint in the qualifiers, ripping two doubles in five at bats, driving in one.

If Gomes had most of the spotlight leading into the qualifiers, Reginatto stole most of it from him by the end of the tourney. Reginatto is in his fourth minor league season for Tampa Bay.  He was a New York-Penn League All-Star after hitting .267/.317/.325, which was in line with his career averages. The utility infielder tied New Zealand’s Scott Campbell for best batting average in the qualifying tournaments, lacing a .583/.615/.667 line.

The rest of Brazil’s infield has one thing in common with Reginatto: their youth.  Pedro Okuda, 22, will man shortstop.  Felipe Burin is at the hot corner.  Marcio Tanaka is the only experienced backup, with the other three reserves averaging 20 years of age.

Okuda moved to Japan for secondary school and competed in the prestigious K?shien high school tournament.  Like a number of Brazil’s other players, the middle infielder shows good plate discipline.  Also in the Mariners’ organisation, Okuda has a career on-base percentage of .392 and had a strong 2012.  The middle infielder spent most of the season at second in the Venezuelan Rookie League and stroked a .274/.381/.374 mark in 56 games.

Burin, though a little old for rookie league at 20, has put up solid numbers over 222 minor league games for the Seattle Mariners.  Though he had a disappointing 2012, hitting only .214/.320/.255, Burin shows great plate discipline and has a career on-base percentage of .400, to go with a .303 average and a little pop.  In 2011, he was named the Venezuelan Rookie League Position Player of the Year and accumulated a .350 average over two minor league stops.

With the exception of Gomes, Brazilian team’s lineup should remain mostly static from November.

Paulo Orlando – CF
Leonardo Reginatto – 3B
Reinaldo Sato – DH
Daniel Matsumoto – 1B
J.C. Muñiz – RF
Felipe Burin – 2B
Jean Tome/Tiago Magalhães – LF
Bruno Hirata – C
Pedro Okuda – SS

Brazil’s Pitching Staff
Without a true power source and with a number of inexperienced hitters, Brazil must continue to receive strong pitching.  The nation is traditionally known more for developing pitchers, and will feature a legitimate number one starter in Andre Rienzo.

Rienzo, 24, was signed by the White Sox out of São Paulo in 2007 and has moved steadily through the system.  The right-hander was tabbed to the Carolina League All-Star Team in 2011, a season which saw him throw 116 innings and strike out 118.

In 2012, he spent most of the year in Double-A, starting 18 games across three levels.  All told, Rienzo was 7-3 with a 2.53 ERA, dropping his career mark to 3.30.  He whiffed 9.8 batters per nine innings, equalling his career record.  For his last start of the regular season, the No. 18 prospect for the Pale Hose was promoted to Triple-A, and impressed, tossing 6 2/3 shutout innings, striking out 10 batters.

Rienzo continued his campaign in the prestigious Arizona Fall League (AFL), a circuit known for high batting averages and ERAs to match.  Earning a spot as a starter, he was 1-1 with a 4.74 ERA and, despite struggling with his command, whiffed almost a batter per inning.  Early reports from the AFL tabbed him as the fifth-best prospect, a tremendous honour.

Rienzo can run his fastball into the mid-90s and has a strong curveball and cut fastball.  He is very difficult to take out of the park, having allowed only 16 homers in six seasons.  This will be crucial as he has been given the starting nod against a talented Cuban side ranked No. 1 in the world.

Brazil’s top starter does have three starts in international events, going 0-2 with a 4.26 ERA in the 2008 Americas Baseball Cup.  He was dominant against Nicaragua, giving up two runs in 6 2/3 innings with 8 Ks, but Brazil was no-hit.  All told, Rienzo had 16 Ks in 12 2/3 frames. In the autumn, he struggled through 3 2/3 frames against Panamá, walking five and giving up four hits, though he allowed only two runs, one earned.

The blue-and-gold’s other frontline starter is Rafael Fernándes. The right-hander was drafted by Yakult in 2008 after hitting 94 mph/151 kmh on the radar gun. He has spent most of his career in the minor leagues, and has an 8.31 ERA in 13 innings for the Swallows. Fernándes has been on Brazil’s staff since 2003, though his best performance came against Panamá in November’s championship contest.

Brazil’s best reliever is Murilo Gouvea, also signed by the White Sox and since traded to the Houston Astros.  He has worked mostly out of the bullpen in six seasons, amassing a 4.77 ERA in 330 1/3 innings.

Gouvea’s most recent season at age 24 was his best, as he threw 77 2/3 innings, striking out 87, walking 29 and claiming a 3.71 ERA.  The right-hander will continue to be called on for key outs in the middle and late innings, especially with a career average of 10.3 strikeouts per nine frames.  Gouvea drew raves for his performance at the qualifier, tossing 5 2/3 shutout innings over two appearances, whiffing five to go with a 0.53 WHIP.

Beyond Rienzo, Fernandes, and Gouvea, the pitching staff is full of unknown quantities, though Larkin managed the bullpen with a magic touch.  The average age of the hurlers is only 23, with only one older than 28.  This may well work to Brazil’s advantage, as most of the players for the other three countries in the bracket have at least some familiarity with each other.  Four Brazilian hurlers to watch will be Oscar Nakaoshi, Gabriel Asakura, Rafael Moreno, and Daniel Missaki.

Nakaoshi is one of three college arms on Brazil’s roster.  In 2010, he was MVP of the Kanto Region, a top collegiate honour.  The southpaw set Hakuoh University’s career victory mark at 28, and had ERAs of 1.04 and 1.18 in his second and third years.  He is the third pitcher on the roster, after Fernándes and Hugo Kanabushi, to attend the university. Nakaoshi has a 1.08 ERA and 1.56 WHIP in international competition.

If Gomes was Brazil’s best-ever college hitter (a .440 career mark), Asakura has earned the label for pitchers.  After a solid junior college debut, the right-hander burst onto the collegiate baseball scene with a 7-2, 1.38 campaign for California State University-Los Angeles in 2011.  Asakura followed that with a 7-3 record and a 2.71 ERA.  Between the two seasons, he has 11 complete games, four shutouts, and has whiffed 135 in 141 2/3 frames. The right-hander was almost untouchable in the qualifying round, fanning 5-of-8 hitters.

Moreno turned some heads with his Dominican Rookie League performance in 2012.  Only 17, the righty won his team’s Rookie of the Year Award after compiling a 3.86 ERA in 65 1/3 innings.  Moreno struck out 59 and walked 22, giving up only 56 hits. He appeared once in November, getting two key outs near the end of the title game.

Missaki is 16 years old and the youngest player ever in the World Baseball Classic. Missaki pitches for Pett’s Nippon Blue Jays. They were the 2012 Cup Champions at an invitational tournament at the Ibiúna complex, Missaki was named Best Player and Best Pitcher, but his performance there paled in comparison to the two outs he got against Jolbert Cabrera and Luís Martínez of Panamá, both of whom have MLB experience.

World Baseball Classic Pool A
Brazil, at No. 20 the lowest-ranked team in the 2013 Classic, has been grouped with two of the top three countries in the world. To advance to the second round, they will have to defeat either No. 1 Cuba or No. 3 Japan, while also nabbing a win against No. 18 China.

In earning a draw that includes their baseball parents, their secret weapon has been likely been neutralised. Their Caribbean opponents were clearly mystified by their unique blend of Japanese- and Cuban-style play, and none of them took Brazil seriously. The blue-and-gold no longer have the element of surprise, so it will be up to Larkin to get the most out of his club.

“Our strategy is our strategy, no matter who we play, where we play or when we play,” explained Larkin to Extra Time. “Our philosophy will remain the same, and it is what can make us victorious. The players know that there is an emphasis on doing the little things well to succeed in the game. We are what we are, do what we do, and we have to do well to win.”

Brazil warmed up for the main draw of the WBC with a pair of exhibitions against Japanese clubs. On Feb. 26, they were defeated by the Orix Buffaloes, 9-2. Two days later, the Fukuoka Softbank Hawks topped them 2-0.

Reginatto had a hit in each game, though he struck out three times. Orlando rapped a double, but Brazilian pitchers walked 18 in 16 frames and allowed seven stolen bases, exposing the void left by Gomes. Gouvea and Asakura both hurled two shutout innings apiece.

After their success in Panamá City and training against NPB teams, they will continue their trial by fire against Japan in the opening game of Pool A. Fernándes will oppose Masahiro Tanaka of Japan’s Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles. Tanaka is two years’ his junior, but has already won Eiji Sawamura Award in 2011 as the Japanese pitcher of the year.

First pitch is at 10 a.m. GMT on Mar. 2 in the Tokyo Dome. It is only the second time Brazil has ever played Japan, with the other contest resulting in an 8-2 victory for Japan in the 2003 World Cup.

The road does not get any easier, as the blue-and-gold will test Cuba on Mar. 4 at 2:30 a.m. GMT. Brazil first played their fellow COPABE (Confederaciòn Panamericana de Béisbol, the governing body of baseball in the Americas) members in 1951 at the Pan American Games, and have lost all 12 of their contests since then. Rienzo will start for Brazil.

The final matchup in the pool may turn out to be the most important for Brazil. If the world rankings and past history are indicative, the game promises to be evenly contested. Separated by only two places on the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) charts, the two nations have split their two previous fixtures, with Brazil winning a 4-0 decision in the 2003 World Cup and China avenging itself 2-1 in the 2005 edition.

While Larkin will certainly expect his men to play for wins against the heavyweights in his group, it is almost certain that the loser of the Brazil-China game will be relegated to the qualifying round of the 2017 tournament. A guaranteed position would do much for the growth of baseball in either country. The two nations will tangle at 8 a.m. GMT on Mar. 5.

For a more extensive look at the Brazilian side, check out the full preview at Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World. Stay tuned for more news, previews, and recaps of the 2013 World Baseball Classic.

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Eight Great Latin American Ballplayers

By Ismael Nunez

This month of February is African-American History Month. It’s also Dominican History Month, and in the first week of February every year:  Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and Venezuela participated in the Caribbean World Series!

Yet the games are not shown on prime-time and at the same time there are several Latin American ballplayers many USA citizens don’t know much about.  Here are the Magnificent Eight!

Cuba

Martin Dihigo stood 6’3 and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1977. He was the first Latin American Ballplayer who played in the Negro Leagues elected into the Hall. The only ballplayer elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in four countries (Mexico, Cuba, Venezuela, United States).  In Cuba he was called “The Immortal” in other Latin American countries he was called “El Maestro” (The Master). As a pitcher he won over 25o games had a winning percentage over .650. As a hitter he had a batting average of over .300 and won batting  and home-run titles.  Too many, including former Negro League Hall of Famers, consider him the greatest player ever!

Jose Mendez stood only 5’8. In Cuba he was called “El Diamante Negro” (The Black Diamond) yet he had a winning percentage of .747.  When Major League Teams traveled to the island in exhibition games Mendez won most of the time! In one game he defeated Hall of Fame Pitcher Christy Mathewson in 1911.

Cristobal Torriente stood between 5’9 and 5’10 yet weighed 190 pounds. He was called “The Cuban Babe Ruth”, played baseball year-round, and was a star player both in the Negro and Cuban Leagues from 1913 to 1922. His lifetime batting average was .352.

All Three of these Cubans are in Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, NY

Dominican Republic

Tetelo Vargas has been called “The Father of Dominican Baseball and The Dominican Deer” who was excellent both on defense and offense! Long before there was Manny Ramirez, and Vladimir Guerrero there was Vargas. Playing in the Negro Leagues, Puerto Rican, Dominican, and Mexican Leagues he put together a lifetime batting average of .300.  He also had good speed, and was notable base stealer.

Horacio “Rabbit” Martinez was an outstanding shortstop, and a clutch hitter.

To many he was the greatest shortstop ever to play in the Dominican Republic and one of the top shortstops in the Negro Leagues from the 1930’s and 1940’s. In an article for SABR (Society for American Baseball Research) many would say long before Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith there was Martinez making those plays. He had a rifle of an arm and brilliant speed.

In his Biographical Encyclopedia of the Negro Baseball Leagues, James A. Riley wrote that Martinez was “a good bunter, fast on the bases, and good on either end of the hit-and-run play! Always a hustler!”

Dominican baseball player Manny Mota had this to say about Martinez “Mr. Horacio Martínez was without a doubt one of the greatest players in the history of the Dominican Republic. Besides being a great player, he was like a father to me. I’ve got a great deal of respect and admiration for him.”

Rob Ruck, author, The Tropic of Baseball: Baseball in the Dominican Republic, and co-writer/producer of the film Republic of Baseball stated this, “I think that both Tetelo Vargas and Horacio Martínez merit consideration for the Hall of Fame. Now that the Hall has opened its “Viva Baseball” exhibit about Latinos in baseball, I hope that they might establish a special committee to consider such candidacies, as they did once before, in 2006!

Puerto Rico

Pancho Coimbre & Perucho Cepeda

Long before Puerto Rican great like Roberto Clemente, Orlando Cepeda, Roberto Alomar arrived in the Hall of Fame, you had these two individuals.  Coimbre and Cepeda both stood 5’11 and both were Afro-Puerto Rican as well as outstanding hitters/fielders. Cepeda’s single season batting average of .464 is the highest in Puerto Rican Baseball History. Coimbre’s lifetime batting average of .337 is the second best in Puerto Rican Baseball History.  Both are in the Puerto Rican Baseball Hall of Fame.

Mexico

The country has had baseball fever long before Fernandomania in 1981, Bobby Avila winning the A.L. batting title in 1954, or the country winning the 2013 Caribbean World Series. Before all of this there was Hector Espino!

He was called the “Babe Ruth of Mexico”  and his  achievements have been compared favorably with many baseball legends who have received baseball’s highest honor.

He won a staggering 18 batting titles(winter/summer leagues) which is six more than the 12 batting crowns Hall of Famer Ty Cobb captured. He also spent 24 years with the Orange Men from 1960-84. Hall of Famers Brooks Robinson (Orioles) and Carl Yastrzemski (Red Sox) are tied with 23 years of service in one uniform.

He became the oldest man to win a batting title in 1983 when he was 43 years-old and hit .316. Ted Williams was 40 when he hit .328 in 1958.

He led Mexico to its first Caribbean World Series win in 1976, and in 1988 was elected to the Mexican Baseball Hall of Fame (Salón de la Fama del Beisbol Profesional de México).

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Caribbean Series Eyes Possible Return to Miami

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The Caribbean Series could possibly return to Miami in the near future. Caribbean Baseball Confederation president Juan Francisco Puello Herrera has been in talks with the Miami Marlins about the possibility of using their new stadium in Little Havana.

The talks are still early, and the Series might not return to Miami for another four years or so.

The tournament was held at the Orange Bowl, site of the current Miami Marlins Park, in 1990. It was also held at Bobby Maduro Miami Stadium in 1991. The Series was going through hard times during their trips to Miami, and Puello would like to reestablish the events image in the heavily Latin populated area.

Another factor is the possible return of Cuba to the Series. Cuba hasn’t played since 1961, but its return is still a long shot. Puello has stated that Cuba would have to commit to the Series to return. It would not be allowed for just one series. It would have to be on a permanent basis.

The 2014 Caribbean Series will return to Venezuela. The tournament rotates between the four countries participating (Mexico, Venezuala, Puerto Rico, and Dominican Republic).

Next year it will take place in Margarita which is a large island on the northeast coast of the country. It will be played at Estadio Guatamare where the Series debuted in 2010 when the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic took home the title.

The Series will rotate to Puerto Rico in 2015 and the Dominican Republic in 2016.

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Caribbean Series: Luis Mendoza Named MVP of Series

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The All-Stars of the 2013 Caribbean Series were named prior to Thursday’s Championship Game.

Luis Mendoza, a Kansas City Royals pitcher, was named the Most Valuable Player of the round robin portion of the tournament. Mendoza was part of Mexico’s Yaquis de Obregon team that went on to win the title.

Mendoza made two starts in the tournament pitching 13.1 scoreless innings. He flirted with a no-hitter on Wednesday taking one into the eighth inning when he would pitch 7.1 innings giving up just two hits to earn the win. That win against Puerto Rico put Mexico into the Championship Game against the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic.

The rest of the All-Stars were:

• Manager: Audo Vicente (DR)
• Catcher: Francisco Pena (DR)
• Pitcher: Mendoza
• First base: Donell Linares (DR)
• Second base: Jose Ramirez (DR)
• Third base: Mario Lisson (Venezuela)
• Shortstop: Miguel Tejada (DR)
• Outfielder: Marlon Byrd (Mexico)
• Outfielder: Ricardo Nanita (DR)
• Outfielder: Doug Clark (Mexico)
• Designated hitter: Barbaro Canizares (Puerto Rico)
• Right-handed pitcher: Mendoza
• Left-handed pitcher: Efraim Nieves (Puerto Rico)
• Relief pitcher: David Reyes (Mexico)
• Closer: Saul Rivera (Puerto Rico)

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Caribbean Series: Doug Clark Ends Championship with Home Run in the 18th Inning

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – It took 18 innings and just about eight hours of play before the Yaquis de Obregon of Mexico could hold on to pick up the win over the Leones del Escogido of the Dominican Republic. The 4-3 victory in the first Championship Game gave Mexico the 2013 Caribbean Series title. It was their second title in three years, both by Obregon.

Mexico led 2-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth inning but couldn’t hang on. Ricardo Nanita (1-for-8) homered to tie the game and send it into extra innings.

From there it was a battle of bullpens for another nine innings. It looked again like Mexico might pull out the win in the 14th inning, but once again they couldn’t hold on. Karim Garcia (1-for-5) led off the inning with a home run to give Mexico a 3-2 lead. But with a one-run lead in the 14th Mexico’s pitching staff couldn’t find the strike zone. Edgar Gonzalez walked the first two batters. After a couple of ground outs, the face of the Caribbean Series came to the plate with a chance to tie or win it, Miguel Tejada (2-for-8). Tejada preceeded to single to right field driving in the tying run.

Mexico pitching walked 10 batters, but eight of those were in the last 6.1 innings including six in a 2.1 inning streak. Starter Rodrigo Lopez pitched brilliantly tossing 7.2 innings of one run ball (unearned). Marco Carrillo (W, 1-0) picked up the win pitching four innings of scoreless relief.

The Dominican Republic starter Angel Castro pitched just as well as Lopez. He tossed 7.2 innings giving up just two runs (1 earned) on two hits. He was on the hook for the loss until Nanita homered in the ninth inning. The pitching staff struck out 21 Mexico hitters and gave up only six hits over 18 innings. Edward Valdez (L, 0-1) took the loss giving up a run in the 18th inning.

That lone run in the 18th inning came off the bat of longtime journeyman Doug Clark (2-for-7). With one out, Clark sent the first pitch he saw just over the right field fence giving Mexico the lead and eventually the win.

Clark bounced around in the minor leagues from 1998 to 2007. He got a “cup of coffee” in the Major Leagues in 2005 and 2006 getting into the action in fourteen games for San Francisco and Oakland. After that he took off for the foreign leagues starting first in South Korea with the Hanwha Eagles and then onto the Nexen Heroes between 2008-2010. Ever since leaving Korea, Clark has been playing in the Mexican League for Quintana Roo.

The game tied the record for most innings (18) with a game that came in 2007. It also set the record for the longest game at seven hours and 28 minutes).

Doug Clark was named MVP of the championship.

It was Mexico’s seventh Caribbean Series title tying them with Venezuela and Cuba. It was the second title won by the Yaquis de Obregon.

Photos courtesy Yaquis de Obregon

Clark HR

Doug Clark rounds the bases after his 18th inning home run

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Caribbean Series: Mexico Defeats Puerto Rico to Earn Trip to Championship Game

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Mexico got seven no-hit innings out of Luis Mendoza (W, 2-0) and pounded their way to victory over Puerto Rico to finish in second place in the round robin to earn a trip to the championship game against the Dominican Republic.

Mendoza went 7.1 innings giving up two hits, four walks, and struck out nine. He was great for the first seven innings before giving up a lead off double in the eighth to pick up the win. The bullpen came in and finished off the shutout.

Offensively Mexico scored their runs in bunches. In the second inning, Barbaro Canizares (1-for-4) hit a two-run home run as Mexico would put a three spot on the scoreboard to get everything started.

Mexico would pick up another five runs in the sixth inning. Marlon Byrd (2-for-4) picked up a pair of doubles and drove in three runs. Iker Franco (1-for-3) also drove in two runs for Mexico.

The loss ended Puerto Rico’s short winning streak as they pushed to get back into the hunt for the championship.

With the win, Mexico plays the Dominican Republic today for the championship.

2013 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 5-1

2. Mexico 3-3

3. Puerto Rico 2-4

4. Venezuela 2-4

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Caribbean Series: Dominican Republic Eliminates Venezuela; Awaits Mexico – Puerto Rico Winner

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – The Dominican Republic earned a spot in the new Championship Game of the 2013 Caribbean Series with a win over Mexico on Tuesday. On Wednesday they eliminated Venezuela with a 4-2 win.

Both team got good starts from their starting pitcher. The Dominican’s Carlos Pimentel pitched four innings giving up only one unearned run on two hits. The bullpen did just as well giving up only one run on three hits the rest of the way. Pimentel didn’t factor in the decision, but Armando Rodriguez (W, 1-0) picked up the win pitching a scoreless eighth inning. Jailen Peguero (S, 1) got the save with a scoreless ninth.

On the other side of the field, Sergio Perez started and pitched well for Venezuela going five innings giving up just one run on five hits.

The game was a pitching duel between the two bullpens, until the ninth inning.

Victor Moreno (L, 0-1) came in to start the ninth for Venezuela. He got the inning started off right with a strikeout. Then he walked a batter and struck out another. So with two outs and a runner at second, after a stolen base, he was lifted for reliever Marcos Tabata.

The Dominican Republic quickly took advantage.

The first hitter Tabata saw, Francisco Pena (2-for-4), hit a two-run home run to put the Dominican in the lead for good.

Venezuela couldn’t come back in the ninth against Peguero and that was it. Their 2013 Caribbean Series ended in disappointment after starting off well. After starting off 2-1, Venezuela dropped the last three games to finish 2-4 and out of the new championship game.

The last game of the round robin features Mexico against Puerto Rico. The winner will advance to face the Dominican Republic in the championship game. In their first meeting, Mexico shutout Puerto Rico 3-0, but Puerto Rico has been hot lately winning their last 2 games.

Full Box Score

2013 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 5-1

2. Mexico 2-3

3. Puerto Rico 2-3

4. Venezuela 2-4

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Caribbean Series: Puerto Rico Wins Again Downing Venezuela 4-1

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Puerto Rico got down early but fought back and clawed their way to a second straight victory, this time over Venezuela by a score of 4-1.

Venezuela got on the board early with a second inning home run by Mario Lisson (2-for-4). But that would be all they would get as the Puerto Rico pitching staff shut them down the rest of the way.

Efrain Nieves (W, 1-0) started and pitched five innings giving up just four hits and the lone run by Venezuela to pick up the win. The bullpen did the rest as three relievers limited Venezuela to just one more hit over the next four innings. Saul Rivera (S, 2) picked up the save with a scoreless ninth.

Down 1-0, Ramon Castro (2-for-3) tied the game with a solo home run in the fourth inning. Puerto Rico would take the lead an inning later on a Jesus Feliciano (3-for-5) RBI single. They would pick up another run in the eighth and ninth innings to add some cushion to the lead.

The win puts them equal with Venezuela at 2-3 heading into the final day of action.

2013 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 3-1
2. Mexico 2-2
3. Venezuela 2-3
4. Puerto Rico 2-3

2013 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Tuesday February 5th
Puerto Rico 4, Venezuela 1
Dominican Republic vs Mexico 9:30 pm

Wednesday February 6th
Dominican Republic vs Venezuela 6:00 pm
Mexico vs Puerto Rico 9:30 pm

Thursday February 7th
Championship 9:00 pm

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Caribbean Series: Mexico Defeats Venezuela to Even Record at 2-2

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Some games go down to the last batter to find a winner. On Monday, Mexico defeated Venezuela at the 2013 Caribbean Series 2-0 scoring the only runs in the game after two batters.

In the bottom of the first inning, Mexico center fielder Chris Roberson (0-for-3) reached on an error by Venezuela first baseman Jose Castillo. The next batter accounted for all of the runs when Alfredo Amezaga (1-for-3) hit a two run home run.

Venezuela starter Austin Bibens-Dirkx (L, 0-1) pitched great allowing only three hits over seven innings. However, one of the three hits was Amezaga’s home run in the first inning.

Rolando Valdez (W, 1-0) pitched well to get the win going seven shutout innings allowing only five hits while striking out six and walking none. Oscar Villarreal (S, 1) picked up the save striking out two in the ninth.

Neither team did anything offensively after the first inning. Mexico collected only three hits and Venezuela seven.

The win evens the standings between the two teams at 2-2 a game behind the leader Dominican Republic.

2013 Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 3-1
2. Venezuela 2-2
3. Mexico 2-2
4. Puerto Rico 1-3

2013 Caribbean Series Schedule:

Tuesday February 5th
Puerto Rico vs Venezuela 6:00 pm
Dominican Republic vs Mexico 9:30 pm

Wednesday February 6th
Dominican Republic vs Venezuela 6:00 pm
Mexico vs Puerto Rico 9:30 pm

Thursday February 7th
Championship 9:00 pm

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Caribbean Series: Puerto Rico Downs the Domincan Republic 6-4 in Extra Innings

HERMOSILLO, Mexico – Puerto Rico needed an extra inning but it picked up its first win in the 2013 Caribbean Series with a huge win over previously undefeated Dominican Republic 6-4.

Puerto Rico entered the game 0-3 having lost to the Dominican Republic just 6-2 just two days prior. Late in the game it looked like it might be a repeat of the first game with the Dominican leading 4-2 late in the game.

However, Puerto Rico didn’t give up and tied the game at four with two runs in the eighth inning. The inning started off bad for Puerto Rico as the first two batters struck out swinging. But Luis Mateo (2-for-5) kept the inning alive with a two out single. The next batter, Jesus Feliciano (1-for-4) reached on an error by Dominican shortstop Hanley Ramirez putting runners at second and third. Rey Navarro (2-for-5/4 RBI) followed that up with a huge clutch single to tie the game at four.

Navarro would have one more huge hit in the tenth inning. With a runner on, Navarro homered to center field to put Puerto Rico in the lead to stay at 6-4.

Carlos Rivera (3-for-5) and Johnny Monell (3-for-3) both picked up three hits apiece in the win for Puerto Rico.

Jordany Valdespin (2-for-5/2 RBI) and Alberto Rosario (2-for-4) both homered for the Dominican in the loss.

The win puts Puerto Rico’s record at 1-3. Another loss and they would have been completely eliminated for a chance at winning the tournament. The loss hurts the Dominican Republic more who looked to take a 4-0 record into the final two games of the round robin.

Earlier in the tournament, Dominican shortstop Miguel Tejada hit his 14th home run in his Caribbean Series career extending his record. This is Tejada’s 12th Caribbean Series.

Caribbean Series Standings:

1. Dominican Republic 3-1
2. Venezuela 2-1
3. Mexico 1-2
4. Puerto Rico 1-3

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LIDOM: Escogido Earns Trip Back to Caribbean Series

The Leones de Escogido completed the sweep of the Aguilas Cibaenas in the Dominican Winter League Finals (Liga de Béisbol Profesional de la República Dominicana or LIDOM).

Escogido needed 11 innings in Game 4 to pick up the win as Jesus Feliciano (2-for-6) scored on a throwing error by Miguel Tejada. Feliciano started the inning off with a single and was sacrificed to second by Ramon Santiago (1-for-5). After Starling Marte (2-for-5) was intentionally walked, Mauro Gomez (0-for-5) reached on a force attempt when Tejada threw the ball away.

All three runs scored by Escogido were unearned due to three errors by the Aguilas.

In the loss Tejada and Elian Herrera both picked up three hits.

Neither starter lasted five innings with the Aguilas Dustin Richardson tossing 4.2 innings giving up a pair of unearned runs on three hits while striking out five. The Escogido starter Daniel Cabrera tossed four innings giving up one unearned run on three hits.

Nelson Payano (W, 2-0) picked up the win tossing just 0.1 innings in relief. Juan Sandoval (L, 0-2) took the loss pitching just 0.1 innings in relief giving up one hit, walking one, and giving up one unearned run.

Escogido 3, Aguilas 0

Kris Johnson (W, 2-1) tossed six innings giving up just four hits and striking out five to pick up the win as Escogido shut out the Aguilas to complete the sweep. Fernando Rodney (S, 1) earned the save. Marco Tovar (L, 0-2) took the loss pitching just two innings allowing just two runs (1 unearned).

Fernando Tatis (3-for-3) drove in three runs including one with a solo home run in the 7th inning. Starling Marte (2-for-4) added a couple hits as well in the win.

Hector Luna (3-for-4) played well for the Aguilas picking up three of the five hits for his team.

This was the second year in a row that Escogido defeated the Aguilas in the finals to advance to the Caribbean Series. They will now travel to Hermosillo, Mexico to defend their Caribbean Series title from a year ago.

LIDOM Schedule:

Game 1: Escogido 10, Aguilas 7
Game 2: Aguilas 5, Escogido 8
Game 3: Escogido 9, Aguilas 0
Game 4: Aguilas 2, Escogido 3
Game 5: Escogido 3, Aguilas 0
Escogido wins series 5-0

Posted in Latin0 Comments

LVBP: Magallanes Win Game 6 to Force Winner Take All Game 7

The San Francisco Giants Pablo Sandoval drove in three runs with a home run in the 4th inning to help the Navegantes del Magallanes to a win in Game 6 of the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League or Liga Venezolana de Béisbol Profesional (LVBP) Championship Series over the Cardenales de Lara. The win tied the series at three games apiece forcing a Game 7.

The Navegantes did it with power. Sandoval’s (1-for-4) home run made the score 7-2 putting the game out of reach. Mario Lisson (1-for-4) drove in three runs as well with a 3-run home run in the 2nd inning. The Texas Rangers Elvis Andrus (1-for-2) added a RBI single in the 2nd inning to finish off that inning’s scoring as the Navegantes put up four runs.

Gustavo Chacin (W, 3-2) picked up the win tossing five innings allowing just two runs on three hits. Maximo Nelson (L, 2-1) took the loss. Nelson lasted just 3.2 innings giving up six runs on five hits and four walks.

The Cleveland Indians’ Luis Valbuena (1-for-3) homered for Lara in the loss.

The win forces a Game 7 with the winner heading to the Caribbean Series.

Posted in Latin0 Comments

LVBP: Venezuela Series Tied at Two Games with Magallanes Winning Game 4

The Navegantes del Magallanes have tied up the Venezuelan Professional Baseball League Championship Series at two games apiece with a 6-5 win over the Cardenales de Lara on Saturday night.

The Magallanes held off a late inning comeback from Lara to tied the series in a game they really needed to win.

Each team collected 13 hits, but the Magallanes added a pair of home runs in the win. Hector Gimenez (2-for-5) blasted a solo shot in the 2nd inning, and Eliezer Alfonzo (2-for-5) hit his 5th home run of the year in the 4th inning.

Deolis Guerra (W, 1-0) picked up the win in relief tossing two scoreless innings. Enrique Gonzalez (S, 3) picked up the save with 1.1 innings of relief work. Yohan Pino (L, 0-1) took the loss pitching three innings giving up three runs on six hits.

Yangervis Solarte (4-for-5) had a big day for Lara picking up four hits and driving in two runs. Ernesto Mejia (2-for-5) and Luis Valbuena (2-for-5) both drove in a run for Lara.

The best-of-seven series will resume on Monday the 28th.

LVBP Championship Schedule:

Game 1: Lara 2, Magallanes 5
Game 2: Lara 3, Magallanes 0
Game 3: Magallanes 2, Lara 4
Game 4: Magallanes 6, Lara 5
Series tied at 2
Game 5: 01/28 7:30 p.m.
Game 6: 01/29 7:30 p.m.
*Game 7: 01/30 7:30 p.m.
*if necessary

Posted in Latin0 Comments

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