GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The Caribbean Series continued Wednesday at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco, with Puerto Rico and Venezuela facing off in the first semifinal game, followed by the semifinal matchup between the Dominican Republic and Cuba.The championship game is set for Thursday.• Full Caribbean Series coverageGAME 1
GUADALAJARA, Mexico -- The Caribbean Series continued Wednesday at Estadio de Beisbol Charros de Jalisco, with Puerto Rico and Venezuela facing off in the first semifinal game, followed by the semifinal matchup between the Dominican Republic and Cuba.
The championship game is set for Thursday.
• Full Caribbean Series coverage
Puerto Rico 6, Venezuela 5
Puerto Rico will return to the Caribbean Series championship game to defend its title after topping Venezuela in the first semifinal game.
With the score tied at 5 in the eighth inning, Phillies Minor Leaguer Jesmuel Valentin hit a single, stole second base, advanced to third on a wild pitch, then motored home for the game-winning run after an errant throw by Venezuela catcher Tomas Telis.
Venezuela scored first in the second inning on a sacrifice fly by Alexi Amarista, who recently signed a Minor League deal with the Tigers. The country tacked on three more runs in the fifth -- two on a double by Rene Reyes -- to pull ahead, 4-0.
Venezuela starter Daryl Thompson also did his part to keep the Puerto Rico offense off balance. He retired the first 11 hitters he faced before giving up a single to right fielder Anthony Garcia with two outs in the fourth inning.
Thompson recovered to sit down the next five batters, but ran into trouble with one out in the eventful sixth. Second baseman Irving Falu and center fielder Rusney Castillo hit back-to-back singles with one out in that inning. Valentin followed with a single to load the bases and Thompson was replaced by Nestor Molina.
Five pitches later, Garcia hit a grand slam that tied the game at 4.
Reyes scored on a single by Telis, who played in 48 games with the Marlins last season, to give Venezuela a temporary lead in the seventh. Valentin drove home Falu with a single in the eighth to tie the score at 5 and set up the play of the game.
Puerto Rico's Garcia is making a case for the Caribbean Series' Most Valuable Player. His sixth-inning grand slam, his third home run of the tournament, set the stage for Valentin's heroics. He finished 2-for-3 with four RBIs and has a .524 batting average with an OPS of 1.708 in five games.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Valentin, who played at Triple-A last season, showed why he could get a big league callup one day. His aggressiveness on the bases in the eighth inning proved to be the difference in the game. He finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored.
Dominican Republic 7, Cuba 4
The Dominican Republic will get a chance to win its first Caribbean Series title since 2012 when it squares off against Puerto Rico in the tournament's championship game.
Veteran outfielder Frederich Cepeda drove in shortstop Guillermo Aviles with a triple in the second inning and scored on the play on an errant throw by Domincan Republic right fielder Ronny Rodriguez to give Cuba a 2-0 lead. The next batter, second baseman Carlos Benitez, hit a double and scored on a single by third baseman Raul Gonzalez to extend the lead to 3-0.
Rodriguez atoned for his error with a two-run home run in the sixth to cut Cuba's lead to 3-2. Cepeda hit a home run in the eighth and finished a double shy of the cycle.
Dominican Republic center fielder Yefri Perez led off the seventh with a single and scored on a throwing error by pitcher Raidel Martinez to tie the game at 3. Later in the inning, first baseman Edwin Espinal drove in shortstop Abiatal Avelino and second baseman Gustavo Nunez with a single up the middle to push the Dominican Republic ahead, 5-3.
The Dominican Republic scored again on an RBI single by Nunez in the eighth. Nunez came home on a single by Junior Lake to extend the lead to two runs.
Nunez, who played in Double-A for the Mets and Tigers last season, saved his best game of the Caribbean Series for the semifinal game. The infielder finished 2-for-4 with two runs and one RBI.
PLAY OF THE GAME
Avelino followed Perez's seventh-inning single with a walk. The next batter, Nunez, dropped a sacrifice bunt that Martinez threw away, allowing Perez to score the tying run and change the course of the game. Cuba never recovered.
Jesse Sanchez, who has been writing for MLB.com since 2001, is a national reporter based in Phoenix. Follow him on Twitter @JesseSanchezMLB and Facebook.