There’s lots of good baseball being played near several of the main tourist destinations — Juan Dolio (San Pedro de Macoris’ Tetelo Vargas Ball Park), La Romana-Bayahibe (Francisco Micheli Ball Park), Cabrera, Rio San Juan and Samana (San Francisco de Macoris (Julian Javier Ball Park), Santo Domingo & Boca Chica (Quisqueya Ball Park).
The round robin, or the professional winter baseball championship semi-finals began on Sunday, the first of 18 games in which teams start from zero. For the first time, the most championship winning teams Tigres del Licey and Aguilas Cibaenas, are not playing, so less games are scheduled for Santo Domingo and more games in the interior.
The tournament ended with the Toros del Este, Estrellas Orientales and Leones del Escogido tied in the first position 27-22 games. The Gigantes edged out the Aguilas by one game to grab the important 4th position with a record 25-24, just two games away from the other three. This promises a tight semi-finals as the teams strengths seem to be equal.
This year, the first place RD$1 million cash prize went to the Toros. The Lidom ruling establishes that when there is a triple tie the winning team is the one with the most runs. The Toros batted for 230 runs and allowed 192 to their opponents. The Estrellas were second with 224 and 219, and the Escogido was third with 195 and 194.
To start the round robin, the 4 remaining teams participated in a raffle for the best talent of the Tigres del Licey and the Aguilas Cibaenas that would be continuing on. Some 27 players were raffled.
The Escogido’s new players are Bartolo Colon, Julio Borbon, Cesar Valdez, Engel Beltre, Jake Fox and Brad Snyder and Tyler Greene.
The Estrellas chose Ronny Paulino, Ramon Ortiz, Victor Marte, Wilkin Arias, Josh Banks, Dan Reichert.
The Gigantes players are Edwin Encarnacion, Luis Vizcaino, Edward Paredes and Johnny Nunez, John Halama, Derrick Loop and Kevin Melillo.
The Toros chose Hector Luna, Adalberto Mendez, Claudio Vargas, Carlos Perez, Kevin Barker, Michael O’Connor and Luis Exposito.
The semifinals will last from Sunday, 27 December through Sunday, 16 January. Friday, 31 December and Saturday, 1 January are off days, as is Thursday, 6 January and Wednesday, 12 January.
For the schedule of upcoming games, see http://www.lidom.com.do