Sauceda and Rodriguez blast Mexico to victory
over Caribbean 6-2
By Dan Ryan
For four innings, Mexico and the Caribbean were engaged in a tight pitcher’s duel. Then Jesus Sauceda came to the plate.
“It just felt really good to come off the bench like that to give my team a boost,” Sauceda said after the game.
When Sauceda’s turn came, Klaus Muller was on second. But thanks to some great infield plays by Caribbean’s defense, it looked like it was going to be just another scoreless inning.
Sauceda sent one back to the wall which gave Muller enough time to break a 0-0 tie. The swing proved to be the momentum shifter as the next batter, Jose Rodriguez hit a double which brought Sauceda home to make the score 2-0.
Later on in the inning, Mexico had put runners on 2nd and 3rd which was enough to instigate a pitching change for the Caribbean. But CF Sergio Rodriguez had other plans.
Rodriguez sent the second pitch out of the park to complete the five run inning for Mexico. “Coach told me to take the first pitch I saw,” Rodriguez said. “But I guess it worked out for me that I waited.”
In the bottom half of the inning, Mexican pitcher Carlos Balboa almost lost his grip on the game due to a few fielding errors and a walk. But he pulled himself together to strikeout two batters to end the inning in what would eventually be a nine strikeout performance.
“We just stuck to our original game plan until the last innings,” Mexican manager Gustavo Gomez said. “Carlos did a great job and I didn’t want to push him too far. The only change we made was to pitch Sergio at the end.”
Sergio did pretty well himself recording 4 K’s in only two innings of work.
“I was a little nervous when I took the pitcher’s mound,” Rodriguez said. “But once I threw a couple of strikes I felt better.”
Caribbean head coach Vernon Isabella felt that pitching was the decisive factor in his team’s loss. “We have a team that can hit very well,” Isabella said. “But good pitching dominates good hitting every time. Balboa had good ball control. Going back and forth between curveballs and fastballs is confusing for the players.”
Although the Caribbean came away with a loss, Isabella still thinks his team has a lot of talent and will be ready for their next game. “I think the strongest part of our team is our infield defense,” Isabella said.” When you do well with that, it adds to the team’s overall performance.”
The Caribbean players also got a big surprise before the game as Jair Jurrjens threw out the ceremonial first pitch.
Jurrjens is a starting pitcher for the Atlanta Braves and was a part of the Netherlands national baseball team in the 2006 World Baseball Classic. His home town is Willemstad, Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, the same place the Caribbean team is from. “I was happy to be here to surprise the team,” Jurrjens said. “Baseball is growing in my home country because they see this on TV.”
The team representing Mexico is from Matamoras, Mexico.
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