MAZATLAN, Mexico -- It may have gotten started a little late, but no one at Estadio Teadoro Mariscal seemed to mind.
Even though the Dominican Republic's delayed arrival forced the postponement of Game 1 of the Caribbean Series against Puerto Rico, all was forgotten once the pregame festivities prior to the Venezuela-Mexico nightcap whipped an already revved-up, standing-room-only crowd into a frenzy.
The frenzy turned into a virtual explosion when native son Vinny Castilla helped lead the Mazatlan Venados of Mexico to a 4-0 victory against Venezuela's Tigres de Aragua.
No two players' appearances here were more highly anticipated than the duo of Castilla -- the Nationals' third baseman who was born in Oaxaca -- and the A's Erubiel Durazo, a Hermosillo native. They were added to Mazatlan's roster for the Series. They didn't disappoint when they got the Venados on the board first, albeit not in the way one might expect from the powerful number three and four hitters. With two out in the first inning, Castilla reached base and took second on a throwing error by Venezuela third baseman Michael Sandoval (formerly of the Twins). Durazo then followed by dropping one into shallow center to score his fellow countryman to give Mexico a 1-0 lead.
Castilla was at it again in the third. Mexico loaded the bases with no one out after shortstop Heber Gomez led off with a single, center fielder Trenidad Hubbard moved him to second with his own base hit and second baseman Miguel Flores' sacrifice attempt turned into a bunt single. Castilla singled to right-center to score Gomez and Hubbard, giving Mexico a 3-0 lead. Left fielder Derrick White's fielder choice's plated Flores, making it 4-0 Mexico.
That was more than enough support for Mexico starter Francisco Campos. The 32-year-old right-hander -- who last played affiliated baseball in the Brewers' system in 2003 -- allowed just three hits over eight sparkling innings, walking just one while striking out 10. Venezuela managed to get just one hitter into scoring position all night, when Pirates second baseman Jose Castillo, playing center field for Aragua, singled, stole second and went to third on a throwing error in the fourth inning. The only thing that stopped Campos was a torn fingernail, but he expects to be ready to start on Sunday in the Series finale.
Nationals reliever Luis Ayala, who pitched for Culiacan during the Winter League season, came on to finish things off in the ninth.
"For me, it was a game of control," said Campos, who will be in White Sox camp this spring. "I thought we were going to be the home team and that threw me off a little bit, but I recovered.
"We played well and we did what was necessary. They pitched well too and they did a good job."
Venezuela starter Horacio Estrada wasn't terrible, getting more nickeled and dimed than hammered. The 29-year-old lefty most recently with the Twins went five innings and did allow four runs -- three earned -- on eight hits. But few were of the line-drive variety and he struck out five while walking none.
Despite that hard-luck tale, Aragua found itself 0-1 in this six-day round-robin tournament, a hole it will try to dig out of when it faces the tardy Dominicans on Wednesday.
Mexico, on the other hand, served notice that its combination of pitching, favorite sons and home field advantage may make it the team to beat in this Series.
"We have a lot of respect for the other teams," Mazatlan manager Juan Jose Pacho said. "But we have a well-structured team and I really think we can be a finalist. Like I said, You win with players, not with names.
"I am very happy to be a part of this for Mazatlan and for the country of Mexico."
Jonathan Mayo is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.