Game 25
Caribbean 4
 vs.
Latin America 2

Thursday, August 23, 2007
12:00PM ET


Deion Is Prime Time
Curacao advances to International Championship on Deion Rosalia’s walk-off three-run homer against Venezuela

By Mark Rogoff
Special Correspondent

As the saying goes, “good pitching stops good hitting.”

Entering Thursday’s International semifinal game featuring Curacao and Venezuela, no one was quite sure if that old saying would hold true for the Caribbean champs. After all, Venezuela had scored 34 runs in its three games of round-robin play.

Well, the saying held true.

Curacao allowed just two Venezuela runs in seven innings, and Deion Rosalia’s three-run walk-off homer in the bottom of the seventh erased a 2-1 deficit, giving Curacao a 4-2 win and a spot in Saturday’s International Championship game.

Rosalia was down to his last strike when he drove a 1-2 fastball from Reinaldo Amaro over the wall in right-centerfield.

“It felt great,” Rosalia said in perfect English. “I just went for contact.”

Curacao’s first two batters in the seventh went down on strikes, and Ademar Rifaela kept the inning alive with a bloop single to center. Vincent Anthonia then worked a full-count walk, which set the stage for Rosalia.

“We can expect everything from everyone all the time,” Curacao manager Vernon Isabella said through a translator. “It’s a team. They do their job and play their baseball.”

Anthonia and Entwin Reigina combined to hold Venezuela to two runs and six hits in seven innings. Reigna came on to pitch in the fifth with two outs, the bases loaded and the game tied at 1-1. Isabella called on the 4-foot-10, 93-pounder to face the 5-foot-10, 182-pound Amaro. The result of the David-Goliath matchup: Reigina struck out Amaro on three pitches, the last two of which were curveballs in the dirt.

“I wasn’t scared,” Reigina said through a translator. “I pitched to other boys with the same size. I knew I just had to throw the ball.”

Reigina did give up the lead in the top of the seventh, when Bryan Charry hit a solo homer that made it 2-1. That blast set off a wild celebration on the Venezuela side, which only motivated Reigina and his squad. Reigina settled down to strike out the side, giving Curacao the momentum for the bottom of the inning.

“It made me want to beat them,” Rosalia said.

“I still had the faith that in the bottom of the seventh something would happen,” added Isabella.

The view from the Venezuela side: “You always get happy for a home run, but we knew the game wasn’t over,” manager Jesus E. Paez said through interpreter Dr. Luis Sanchez.

Curacao had nearly won it in the bottom of the sixth. With two outs and runners on first and second, Kirvin Moesquit grounded one hard to the right side. The ball seemed destined to go into the outfield for the game-winning hit, but the ball struck Ulrick Carmelia in the leg as he ran from first to second. By rule, he was called out, and the game went into extra innings.

Curacao took a 1-0 lead in the first on Anthonia’s two-out solo homer. Venezuela pinch hitter Edward Lobo tied it in the fourth with a bloop RBI double down the right-field line.

It had looked as if the Venezuela offense would wreck havoc again right from the start, loading the bases in the top of the first before Anthonia eventually got out of the jam. Charry got things started with a single to left. After two strikeouts, Omar Villalobos worked a walk and Miguel Romero was hit by a pitch. That brought up Amaro, who hit a sharp grounder to Rosalia at first base. Rosalia stabbed it and threw to Anthonia, who was covering the bag.

“We didn’t show that offensive power that we had in the past,” Venezuela manager Jesus E. Paez said through interpreter Dr. Luis Sanchez.


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