Colombia, a soccer country that reigns in baseball paradise

Caimanes de Barranquilla, defying the odds, won the first Caribbean Series championship for Colombia, a soccer country but with its team in check on the road to the Qatar-2022 World Cup.

The Colombian team defeated Gigantes del Cibao, representative of the Dominican Republic, on Thursday 4×1 in the final.the country that exports the most Major League Baseball players, and also did it in a Quisqueya Stadium in Santo Domingo full of fans.

Caymanes gives Colombia the title of the Caribbean baseball classic for the first time, an unexpected triumph that comes after the disappointment experienced by their soccer team with defeats against Peru (0-1) and Argentina (1-0) that complicate their aspirations in the South American World Cup qualifier.

"This is going to put our sport on the map in the country. Without a doubt it is a land of football, but after this I am sure that there will be much more talk about baseball and many children will begin to play ball"said the manager of the Caymans, José Mosquera, at the celebration of the title, while a whaleto -traditional Colombian music- was played at full volume through the speakers of the Quisqueya Stadium, a temple of baseball.

Colombia has played in six editions of the Soccer World Cup, Chile-1962, Italy-1990, United States-1994, France-1998, Brazil-2014 and Russia-2018; and soccer players like Carlos ‘El Pibe’ Valderrama, Faustino Asprilla or René Higuita are idols.

Dominican Republic, which saw David Ortiz be elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame last week, is the country with the most titles in the Caribbean Series, 21, and two of its teams, Toros del Este and Águilas Cibaeñas, had won the 2020 and 2021 editions.

With shirts of the Colombian soccer team, four friends celebrated Thursday night in the street, in front of Quisqueya, after having been in the stands.

"Happy! We won against the Dominican at her house!", exclaimed Francia Luna, an engineer who has lived in Santo Domingo for five years.

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"It is a great emotion because we are in baseball land (…). We were disappointed, we were enguayabados (sad), because of those defeats against Peru and Argentina, but now we are here celebrating"expressed one of his friends, Juan David Carvajal.

– Tight pitching –

The Caimanes triumph can be explained with one word: pitching.

Although first baseman Reynaldo Rodríguez was chosen Most Valuable Player of the Caribbean Series thanks to his offensive display, Mosquera’s pitching staff was the basis of success.

Right-hander Elkin Alcalá was an example of this in the final against the Robinson Canó, Marcell Ozuna and company Giants, in which he pitched five and two-thirds innings, allowed four hits and one run, and struck out seven.

The team left a collective ERA of 1.67 in the five games of the regular phase, by receiving 14 annotations 43 episodes covered in his five presentations, but only eight clean, and limited his rivals to 30 hits. Afterward, he allowed just one streak in their semi-final encounter and one more in the final.

"I knew what my pitchers could do (…). This cannot be achieved if you do not believe. we believed"Mosquera said.

– Major league odds –

Although very far from the constellation of Dominican stars, Caimanes attended the Caribbean Series with their share of major leagues, with Harold Ramírez, Dilson Herrera and Venezuelan Sandy León.

León, who in ten seasons in the majors has played with the Washington Nationals, Boston Red Sox, Cleveland Indians (renamed the Guardians) and Miami Marlins, won the 2018 World Series with Boston.

"Obviously having Sandy León behind the plate, a catcher with experience in the World Series, is incredible."Mosquera indicated, highlighting the work of the mask guiding the saurian launchers.

"All credit to them (the pitchers) and I thank them for believing in me, letting go of me, believing in what I can do behind home plate. Communication with them was super good throughout the tournament"Leon celebrated.

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