Sunday afternoon, Mexico's Tomateros de Culiacan will battle for its third consecutive Caribbean Series championship as it plays Cuba's Pinar de Rio at 4:30 p.m. EST. MLB.com's Jesse Rogers reports that winning today would not only give Mexico its third consecutive title but, rather, its fourth title in five years.
For Mexico, Ali Solis drove in two runs, and Jose Rodriguez scored twice and contributed three hits to lead Mexico to its semifinal win. Terance Marin pitched six innings for the win, allowing two earned runs on five hits and striking out three. Tampa Bay Rays infelder Alexi Casilla and Houston Astros infielder Jonathan Villar each scored and former Major Leaguer Russel Branyan drove in a run and scored once to help push their team to victory. Jay Jackson pitched a scoreless ninth inning to pick up the save.
Cuba, meanwhile, got four hits and five RBI from desiganted hitter Frederich Cepeda in its offensive expolision that saw the lineup score five times in the top of the seventh to take the lead for good over Venezuela. Norge Ruiz picked up the win in relief by pitching 4 1/3 scoreless innings and keeping his team close so that the offense could come alive to put up three runs in the sixth and five more an inning later.
Rogers quoted Mexico manager Bengi Gil, another former Major Leaguer, discussing the mission that his team is on while visiting the beautiful Caribbean. Said Gil,
"This is a beautiful island, but we are not here on a vacation. We didn't just come for the trip. We came to win.... This was a game with a lot of drama. I congratulate the Dominican team, their manager and everybody from the Gigantes. I am very happy with my players and their effort. This was a tough game against a tremendous rival."
A win today would give Mexico claim to an honor that the Caribbean series has not seen since 1970 -- a third straight title for one team. The last team to do so was the Dominican Republic, whom Mexico eliminated Saturday.