MLB.com Columnist

Jesse Sanchez

Venezuela tops Cuba; P.R. walks off on D.R.

Venezuela tops Cuba; P.R. walks off on D.R.

GAME 1
Venezuela, 3
Cuba, 1

Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua will enter Saturday's semifinal game on a winning note after edging Cuba, 3-1, in the first game of the day at the Caribbean Series on Thursday.

Venezuela's Jose Martinez scored the Tigres' first run in the second inning. They added two more runs in the third on a double by Alex Romero and an RBI single by Martinez.

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Ciego de Avila center fielder Jose Adolis Garcia hit a triple in the seventh inning and scored Cuba's lone run of the game on a ground ball.

Martinez's RBI single

The victory improved Venezuela's record to 3-1. The Tigres are off Friday and will resume play in a semifinal game Saturday. The loss drops Cuba to 0-3.

Cuba will face the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido on Friday night, needing a victory to avoid elimination.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS
Tampa Bay Rays Minor Leaguer Juniel Querecuto is having a week to remember. The Tigres de Aragua shortstop had four hits and scored a run Thursday. On Tuesday, he had the game-winning single in Venezuela's 8-7 victory against the Dominican Republic in extra innings. Querecuto split most of last season between Class A Advanced and Double-A, with a brief stop at Triple-A.

PLAY OF THE GAME
Brothers Adonis Garcia (Venezuela) and Jose Adolis Garcia (Cuba), who have seen each other only twice since Adonis defected in 2011, reunited during the opening ceremonies of the Caribbean Series on Monday. On Thursday, they played against each other as professionals for the first time in their careers and combined for the play of the game.

Garcia nabs runner at third

In the top of the fourth inning, Adonis, 30, hit a deep drive to center field that Jose Adolis, 22, caught not far from the warning track. Venezuela outfielder Teodoro Martinez tagged up at second and attempted to advance to third, but he was tagged out by Cuba third baseman Yulieski Gourriel after a perfect throw from Jose Adolis to complete the double play and end the inning.

GAME 2
Puerto Rico, 2
Dominican Republic, 1

Neftali Soto hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the 14th inning to propel Puerto Rico's Cangrejeros de Santurce to a 2-1 victory against the Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido and into the Caribbean Series semifinals on Saturday.

The loss was the third of the series for the Dominican Republic (0-3), which will square off against Cuba's Ciego de Avila (0-3) on Friday night, with the victor set to claim the final spot in the semis behind Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan, Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua and Puerto Rico.

Soto ties it in the 9th

It was quite a night for Soto.

With his team trailing by one run in the ninth, Puerto Rico's Juan Silva hit a two-out double off Dominican Republic reliever Rafael Soriano, and Soto followed with a triple to tie the game at 1.

Jimmy Paredes' solo home run in the fifth inning broke the scoreless tie to give the Dominican Republic a 1-0 lead it would hold until the ninth inning. For his part, Dominican Republic starter Cesar Valdez pitched seven scoreless innings before yielding to Joel Peralta to start the eighth and Soriano in the ninth. Ramon Garcia pitched the 10th for the Dominican Republic.

Puerto Rico will face Mexico in the afternoon game on Friday.

NOTABLE PERFORMERS
Valdez allowed only three hits in seven strong innings. He struck out six and did not walk a batter.

Signed out of the Dominican Republic by Arizona in 2005, Valdez pitched 20 innings in the Major Leagues for the D-backs in 2010 during his only stint in the big leagues. He pitched in the Minors for the Pirates and Marlins in 2011, and has spent the last four years pitching in Mexico, Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.

PLAYER OF THE GAME
One day after finishing in second place in the first home run derby at the Caribbean Series, Soto hit a two-out run-scoring triple to tie the game at 1 in the ninth and hit the walk-off homer in the 14th.

Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.