Licey wins record 23rd Dominican Winter League title

January 19th, 2023

The Tigres del Licey can now call themselves the most decorated club in Dominican Winter League history.

The Tigres earned that moniker Wednesday night with a series-clinching 2-1 victory in extra innings over the Estrellas Orientales in Game 5 of the best-of-seven LIDOM finals at Estadio Quisqueya Juan Marichal in Santo Domingo.

The game remained tied into the bottom of the 10th, when Mel Rojas Jr.’s single off Ronel Blanco brought home Ronny Mauricio to set off a walk-off celebration and fireworks as the Tigres earned their 23rd LIDOM championship in front of their home fans. The championship, Licey’s first since the 2016-17 season, broke a tie with Aguilas for the most won by any Dominican Winter League team.

Rojas collected three of the Tigres’ 10 hits on the night and drove in both of their runs. His two-out single to left-center drove in  to open the scoring in the third inning. Rojas batted .353 (6-for-17) with an OPS north of 1.000 during the finals.

Entering Game 5, the Estrellas had scored five runs over the previous three games, and Licey’s pitchers were able to keep them relatively quiet through seven innings Wednesday. But, with the Tigres only six outs from triumph, Jeimer Candelario hammered a pitch just beyond the right-field wall to knot the score at 1.

The Estrellas pounded out 12 hits and threatened throughout the contest, but they went just 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position. That statistic doesn’t include what happened in the top of the fifth inning when Robinson Canó tried to score from first on a two-out double by Candelario. 

Just as Canó began to throttle down at third base, he noticed Rojas having trouble fielding the ball in left field. However, as the longtime Yankee and Mariner tried to pick up speed again, Rojas and shortstop Sergio Alcántara made perfect relay throws to Jesus Sucre, who applied the tag on Canó at the plate.

Licey shut down another Estrellas scoring chance in the top of the 10th as Alfredo Simon came out of the bullpen to retire pinch-hitter Danny Santana, stranding a runner on third base.

Simon’s one-out appearance was enough to earn him the win. The loss went to Blanco, who had allowed only one earned run in 50 Dominican Winter League appearances, spanning 53 innings since 2021.