Resilient Dominican squad tops P.R.

Resilient Dominicans top P.R.

MARACAY, Venezuela -- It was the day after a very long night, and it could have brought a debilitating Super Sunday hangover.

Physically and emotionally drained following Saturday night's loss to Venezuela in a Caribbean Series classic, Dominican Republic champion Licey took a while to get warmed up before showing its resilience -- and toughness -- against Puerto Rico.

With cleanup man Napoleon Calzado fueling the rally with his third hit, an RBI double, Licey (3-1) busted loose with six seventh-inning runs to cruise home with a 9-2 decision at the expense of Carolina (1-3) at Estadio Jose Perez Colmenares, keeping the heat on Venezuela.

"It was a tough, tough loss to Venezuela," said Licey manager Rafael Landestoy, "but it was important to come back today and win this game. We did what we've done all year long.

"Not only was it difficult because of the [11-9] loss. Some of the guys got to sleep around 6 in the morning. You have to get something to eat, take a shower, think about the game -- and then it's morning, time to get ready for the next game.

"They really did show something winning this game. The pitching was the difference."

It was good from Licey's side -- not so good from Carolina's.

Erick Aybar started the big inning with a single, and catcher Sandy Martinez finished it with a two-run double. There were four walks, a wild pitch and a passed ball as a 3-2 game got away from Carolina's bullpen.

Luis Arroyo was effective in relief of Josue Matos, but neither Matt Hammons nor Stevenson Agosto could find the strike zone with any consistency, and there went Carolina's chances.

Starter Danny Tamayo and the Licey bullpen came through impressively, shutting down Carolina.

"It wasn't that difficult coming back," said Ronnie Belliard, who singled home the first Licey run. "We lost that game. But we're still alive. If we beat Mexico, then we play Venezuela again, and we'll see what happens."

Center fielder Alexis Gomez, a Detroit Tigers prospect who has played superbly for Licey, singled and scored twice.

Matos took care of the top of the Licey order, featuring Miguel Tejada in the No. 3 hole, but he was undone by the middle of the order before Arroyo replaced him with two outs in the fourth, retiring Anderson Hernandez to leave two runners stranded.

Calzado led off the second inning with a single and took third when center fielder Jose Valentin bobbled Gomez's single to left-center field for an error, putting both men in scoring position.

Belliard's lined single to center cashed in Calzado, and Timo Perez's sacrifice fly delivered Gomez.

In the fourth, Gomez led off with a single, advanced on an infield out and scored on Perez's single to right.

Tamayo, meanwhile, was toying with Carolina, surrendering only a pair of singles and a walk through five innings.

Puerto Rico finally broke through in the sixth, when Alex Cora singled and scored on Ruben Gotay's double into the right-field corner. Tamayo was one out away from escaping, when Valentin went the opposite way to left for a run-scoring double to draw Carolina to within a run.

A weary bullpen got some breathing room with the six-run seventh, which helped finish the job. Southpaw Valerio de los Santos blanked Puerto Rico in the seventh and eighth innings, and right-hander Wilton Chavez finished the job.

"We needed to get a good effort from Tamayo, and he came through for us," Landestoy said. "Our bullpen was pretty tired after [Saturday] night."

Lyle Spencer is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.