Dominican Republic eliminated from Series with 0-4 record
By Jesse Sanchez
GAME 1 Mexico 8, Puerto Rico 4
Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan clinched the top seed in the semifinals with the 8-4 victory against Puerto Rico's Cangrejeros de Santurce in the first game of the Caribbean Series on Friday afternoon.
Mexico (4-0) will play the winner of Friday night's matchup between Cuba (0-3) and the Dominican Republic (0-3) on Saturday night. Puerto Rico (2-2) will face Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua (3-1) in the first semifinal game Saturday afternoon.
Shortstop Paul Leon scored Mexico's first run of the game in the top of the third on a single by right fielder Jeremias Pineda. Puerto Rico answered the next inning with a run on a single by right fielder Danny Ortiz and pulled ahead, 2-1, when Henry Ramos trotted home from third on a throwing error by Mexico catcher Sebastian Valle.
Pineda scored the tying run in the seventh inning before Mexico broke the game open the next inning with six runs.
Neftali Soto hit a solo home run for Puerto Rico in the bottom of the eighth.
The first four hitters in Mexico's lineup -- Pineda, Justin Greene, Alex Liddi and Jorge Vazquez -- combined for 11 hits, three runs and four RBIs. Valle, Mexico's fifth hitter, also had two hits.
Overall, Mexico racked up 15 hits in the win.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Cyle Hankerd's two-run pinch-hit double to center field broke the 2-2 tie and set the stage for Mexico's big eighth inning. Ramon Urias, Pineda and Greene each followed Hankerd with doubles in the six-run outburst to put the game away.
Pineda also hit a triple in the seventh inning.
GAME 2 Cuba 4, Dominican Republic 2
Cuba's Jose Adolis Garcia hit a two-run single off Dominican Republic reliever Rafael Soriano with two outs in the top of the 11th inning to push his Ciego de Avila squad to a 4-2 victory and a spot in Saturday's Caribbean Series semifinals.
Cuba (1-3) will face Mexico's Venados de Mazatlan (4-0) in the second semifinal on Saturday night. Puerto Rico's Cangrejeros de Santurce (2-2) and Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua (3-1) will play in the first semifinal game on Saturday afternoon.
The Dominican Republic's Leones del Escogido team was eliminated with the loss and finished the tournament with a 0-4 record.
Scoreless after the first inning, Cuba scored in the top half of the second on a double by Yeniet Perez that scored Alfredo Despaigne. The Dominican Republic responded in the bottom of the inning when catcher Wilkin Castillo's two-run double put his team up, 2-1.
Stayler Hernandez scored the tying run for Cuba on a sacrifice fly by third baseman Yulieski Gourriel in the top of the eighth.
Padres reliever Fernando Rodney has had an interesting Caribbean Series. On Friday, he entered in the top of the 11th inning with the scored tied at 2 and made a two-base throwing error on a ball hit back to him. He then walked the next batter, Guillermo Aviles, and was visited on the mound by the team trainer. Yurisbel Gracial followed with a sacrifice bunt, and just like that, the bases were loaded.
Rodney responded by striking out the next two batters. He was escorted off the mound by the trainer and replaced by Soriano. After the game, the team said Rodney had been removed as a precautionary measure after experiencing leg tightness earlier in the week.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Big brother Adonis Garcia, who plays for Venezuela, might be a starter in the Major Leagues for Atlanta, but little brother Jose Adolis Garcia is proving that the talent runs in the family.
Garcia's lone hit -- the single in the 11th off Soriano -- was the biggest of the game.
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.