Toros del Este shocked the Quisqueya fans Friday night with a thrilling comeback and 5-3 victory over Tigres del Licey. The La Romana team improves to 3-2 in the postseason, the capital club falling to 2-3.
Everything went according to plan early for El Glorioso as they roughed up disgraced former New York Met Jenrry Mejía, starting on the bump for the Tigres. The former big league closer, who was once banned from baseball following multiple positive tests for performance-enhancing drugs, allowed one run in the first inning and two in the second before a leadoff triple by Moisés Sierra knocked him out in the third. Danny Santana (late of the Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, and now a member of the Texas Rangers organization) slipped a single through the left side to open the first, motoring around to score on Hanley Ramírez’s bolt the other way into the right-center gap.
Erick Aybar of Anaheim Angels fame led the second with a lined single, advancing to third on a walk and a flyball and scoring on a groundout. Another single by Santana brought in the third plater for the Tigres.
The early turning point came in the bottom of the third when Víctor Baro emerged from the Toros bullpen following Sierra’s triple and recorded three outs without allowing Licey to expand on their lead.
A marching band of relief pitchers conspired to keep the home team off the board for the remainder of the night. It mattered little to the final score, but the soft-tossing lefty David Hurlbut was excellent for Tigres, holding the visitors for five innings despite allowing six hits.
Toros struck out of nothing in the seventh, singles by Alejandro Mejía and Francisco Peña setting up a dramatic game-tying two-run homer by Rubén Sosa Jr. against Gabriel Arias (the first one scored on a wild pitch).
The winning runs scored in the top of the ninth amid a soft but deserved rally against Jairo Asencio. A pair of walks and a sac bunt and in stood onetime World- Series hero Hunter Pence, who won three with the San Francisco Giants in a fever dream of a dynasty. The bearded Texan hunched over the plate and chopped at an outside pitch, releasing his top hand early and somehow rolling it between the shortstop and third baseman and into left field.
Fernando Abad briefly made it complicated for himself in the bottom of the ninth, surrendering a single and a walk before dramatically and emphatically striking out Juan Francisco with a high fastball to earn his save. Ramón Ramírez took the win with a hard-fought inning
and a third.