World Series time in the Caribbean
It’s on to the Caribbean World Series for the Winter Leagues as all four participating nations have had their champions crowned, and there is still a good amount of Revolution / Atlantic League representation to track.
In Venezuela, it went a full seven games to determine the title, and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval came up big in a championship run again as Navegantes (Chris Nowak’s team) defeated Cardenales (Joe Thurston and Johan Limonta’s team) 11-9 in the deciding game on Wednesday. Sandoval homered for the second straight night, helping to blow the game open for the home team. Check out footage of the dramatic home run here, and an incredible crowd reaction from the folks at Estadio Jose Bernardo Perez. You can also see former Revs outfielder Erold Andrus in the midst of the celebration, and I was pleased to see that Navegantes shares the same outfitter with the Revs, that being New Balance.
Unfortunately none of the trio of Revs in the Venezuelan Series factored much into the series, as Joe Thurston was used primarily as a defensive replacement in the outfield and Johan Limonta did not play. Chris Nowak did not appear in any games either, perhaps in large part because his team had Sandoval at third base, and he is actually back in the United States.
It is interesting how players move around in the Winter Leagues, especially once teams are eliminated, and Thurston will now be joining Navegantes as the Venezuelan representation in the Caribbean Series, as his team takes on former Revs pitcher Lorenzo Barcelo and the Dominican Republic in Game 1 of the six-day round robin in Hermosillo, Mexico today at 5 p.m. eastern, 3 p.m. local time. No word as of this time if Barcelo is actually pitching in Game 1, but I’m sure he’ll make a start at some point after another terrific winter.
Mexico, with Atlantic Leaguers Mike Benacka (York ’12) and Jesse Gutierrez (Southern Maryland ’12) will take on Puerto Rico in the other game tonight. Team Puerto Rico is loaded with Atlantic Leaguers including Ricardo Gomez and Michael Nix of York fame. Other familiar names include Eddy Ramos, Kelvin Villa, Edgardo Baez, Aaron Bates, and Andy Gonzalez who was with York in spring training of 2011. Villa went 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA in the postseason and earned the win for Criollos de Caguas in the decisive Game 6. Nix played a huge role as well, outdueling former York teammate Matt DeSalvo in Game 5.
It really goes to show the level of talent that the Atlantic League boasts year in and year out, when you look at what many of our league’s players are doing internationally during the winter.