Mexico captures series title
Home country beats Dominican Republic to take title
MAZATLAN, Mexico -- When baseball historians in Mexico look back on the 2005 Caribbean Series, several images from Sunday will be recalled.
First and foremost will likely be the image of Mexico's first ever Caribbean Series championship in its own country -- its fifth title overall -- and the celebration that followed on the mound and around Estadio Teodoro Mariscal following Mexico's 4-3 victory against one-time favored Aguilas from the Dominican Republic.
Not far behind will be the memories of its cast of Major Leaguers, including Vinny Castilla, Erubiel Durazo and Miguel Ojeda, who helped make history. Pitcher Francisco Campos will surely become the stuff legends are made of in this baseball-mad part of the country because of what he was able to do on the mound against the Dominican Republic, one of the most potent lineups in the Caribbean Series, and what they were not able to do against him.
Of the 25 men on the Dominican Republic's roster, 18 have Major League affiliations. This didn't seem to matter to Campos, who struck out 13 batters.
The crafty right-hander was charged with three hits and two runs in eight solid innings for the victory. He walked Luis Polonia to start the ninth inning before giving up a hit to Miguel Tejada, and each eventually scored. After a brief meeting with manager Juan Jose Pacho, Campos jogged off the mound and into the dugout to a standing ovation. The Aguilas went on to tack on three runs in the final frame and came within 90 feet of tying the score, but reliever Luis Ignacio Ayala retired Bernie Castro to end the game and give Mexico its first Caribbean championship since 2002.
Mazatlan got to work early.
In the first inning, Mexico leadoff hitter Trenidad Hubbard hit a single. One out later Castilla and Durazo each drew walks to load the bases. Derrick White followed with a single that scored two runs to put Mexico ahead, 2-0.
Durazo was tagged out in between second and third base after straying too far from the bag on the play, but the damage had been done and the momentum belonged to Mexico early.
"It was an honor to be a part of the Caribbean Series and win it here," Durazo said. "They invited us to come and we did. We did the job."
Campos continued his dominance and received some support in the fifth when Castillo hit a single and Durazo followed with a home run, his first of the Caribbean Series, to extend Mexico's lead to a comfortable 4-0 margin.
"This is an emotional win for us," Ojeda said. "We put together a great team to win and we beat several great teams. This is a great win for our country. We deserve it."
Dominican Republic starter Juan Pena was charged with four hits and three walks in five innings for the loss. The Aguilas are scheduled to play Puerto Rico at 11 a.m. (local) in the final game of the Caribbean Series on Monday.
"We came together at the right time and we won when we needed to," Mazatlan's Miguel Flores said. "This is an unbelievable feeling."
Jesse Sanchez is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.