Dominican Winter League action resumed Wednesday, with Round Robin competition heating up as the calendar flips to 2019. Estrellas Orientales dispatched Leones del Escogido 4-1 on their visit to the capital, while league leaders Toros del Este improved to 6-2 with their come-from-behind win over Tigres del Licey. Los Tigres, the highest-profile and most decorated club on the island, are in a precarious position as they fall to 2-6 following the 5-1 defeat. Los Leones and las Estrellas even their records to 4-4 with ten to play.
Fernando Tatis Jr. was, as is often the case, the catalyst for las Estrellas. El cumpleañero (he turned 20 January 2) went two-for-three with a walk and scored twice. Tyler Alexander struck out seven over six innings for los Leones but could not hold onto the slim one-zip lead he was staked two when Ryan Court tripled César Puello home in the bottom of the third. Tatis helped to manufacture a run in the fourth, rolling an infield single and taking second on a wild pitch before scoring on a double by Héctor Giménez, just over from Zulia in the Venezuelan league.
The visitors took the lead in the fifth and added another in the sixth, the first on a double by Orlando Calixte, a sac bunt and a sac fly by Alfredo Reyes, and the second on a triple by Tatis cashed in on Junior Lake’s flyout. The San Pedro club added an insurance run in the eighth on an error, a pair of walks, a balk and a wild pitch. Evan MacLane was solid for four and change but the win went to Máximo Nelson and the save to Jumbo Díaz.
Down east in La Romana, los Tigres took a 1-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth behind four and a third from David Hurlbut and, to that point, solid relief pitching. Paolo Espino went five plus for los Toros, failing to record an out in the sixth but surrendering a hit to Danny Santana that would turn into a run after a stolen base and a wild pitch.
For the second time in two weeks Gabriel Arias was the victim of a late los Toros rally, though this time the wheels were greased when Alexi Casilla singled against David Goforth and Leyson Séptimo walked Jordany Valdespín. Arias came on with one down and walked Hunter Pence to load the bases, striking out cleanup hitter Teoscar Hernández before imploding. Ronny Rodríguez, who had a big hit off Arias last weekend, drew a hard-fought walk to bring the tying run across. The captain Cristhian Adames poked one between third and short to push in the second run and demoralize the traveling Licey faithful. The crowd that packed the Estadio Francisco Micheli was already in a frenzy but turned absolutely rapturous when El Diamante Negro Anderson Feliz smoked a double into the gap to clear the bases and land the dagger.