The 2010 Caribbean Series champion will be crowned Sunday, or Monday at the latest.
On Saturday night, a host of Minor League players helped Puerto Rico stay in the hunt for the title as the Mayaguez club cruised past Venezuela, 7-1, in Caribbean Series play.
With the victory, Puerto Rico improves to 3-2 with one regulation game remaining. If Puerto Rico defeats Mexico (2-3) in Sunday's matinee and the tournament-leading Dominican Republic (4-1) falls to Venezuela (1-4) in the final regulation game of the tournament, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic will face each other in a tiebreaker for the title Monday.
If Mexico defeats Puerto Rico, the tournament is over and the Dominican Republic's Escogido squad will win its first title since 1990. A Dominican team has won the Caribbean Series title 17 times since 1970, while a Puerto Rican team has not won the championship since Santurce in 2000.
"We can only control what we can control," Puerto Rico manager Max Oliveras said. "I think no matter what happens, baseball in Puerto Rico can lift its head up high. We are going to do the best we can and we'll see what happens."
Twins third base prospect Danny Valencia and Mets Minor League outfielder Jesus Feliciano each hit home runs, while Blue Jays Minor League infielders Angel Sanchez and Randy Ruiz did their part, combining to scored three runs.
"We're really happy with the work that we have done so far," Feliciano said. "The road has been difficult, but we are still here."
Puerto Rico left fielder Miguel Abreu, who hit .290 with 45 RBIs in 130 games for Baltimore's Double-A club at Bowie, and Raul Casanova, who spent last season in Mexico, but the 2008 campaign in Triple-A with the Mets, also drove in a run.
Casanova, 36, played in 387 Major League games with the Tigers, Brewers, Twins, White Sox, Rays and Mets from 1996-2008.
"The truth is that I didn't prepare myself for such a long season," Nieves, 19, said. "And as result, I didn't up the numbers that I should have. This year is totally different. I've been working hard every day, running on the beach and working out all winter time. I'm going to be ready this time."
Jackson Melian, who hit .217 in Triple-A for Houston and Detroit during his most recent stint in the Minor Leagues in 2008, scored Venezuela's only run on a sacrifice fly by Dodgers Minor Leaguer Luis Maza.
"The Series continues until the Series ends," Feliciano said. "That's what we said and that's what we've done. Our manager told us that it was not over and we all believed the same thing."
Jesse Sanchez is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less