Caribbean celebrates its World Series

MAZATLÁN, México (ESPNdeportes.com news services) -- The Caribbean World Series got underway one game late last night when Mexican pitcher Francisco Campos and the Mazatlán Deer tamed the Venezuelan champs Aragua Tigers, 4-0.

Campos hurled eight innings, allowed three hits and struck out 10 batters in the nightcap of what was supposed to be the second game of Day 1 of the Caribbean Series, a round robin that pits the Winter League champions of Puerto Rico, Mexico, Venezuela and odds-on favorite the Dominican Republic.

With the likes of Major League stars Miguel Tejada and Rafael Furcal, the Cibao Eagles missed their scheduled charter flight from the Dominican capital of Santo Domingo, to the balmy Mexican Pacific coastline resort of Mazatlán on Monday. They will play a doubleheader with Puerto Rico on Friday.

Thousands of fans had lined up in front of Teodoro Mariscal stadium in Mazatlán on Tuesday afternoon, hoping to see the Dominicans clash with their rivals from Puerto Rico. They had to return for the nightcap, where after fireworks, music and a parade, the hosts played against the Venezuelans.

The Mexican champs scored in the first inning, when third baseman Michel Sandoval's throwing error with two outs scored recently signed Washington Nationals Vinicio Castilla, following Oakland A's star Erubiel Durazo's single.

Campos threw 105 pitches, 78 in the strike zone. He bested Venezuelan Horacio Estrada, who will be trying out with the Baltimore Orioles this spring.

"Campos' pitching was huge, tremendous", said third baseman Castilla, who also batted in a pair of runs with a single in the third inning. "Now we have to continue winning".

Next up for Mexico are the Mayaguez Indians, champions from Puerto Rico. The Venezuelans play the Dominicans in the first game on Wednesday. Teams play each other twice, and the best record wins. If there is a tie in first place, an extra game will decide the champion. The Dominican Republic is the defending champion.

Other than Tejada, Furcal, Durazo and Castilla, other Major Leaguers in action include Padres catcher Ramón Hernández playing third base for the Venezuelans; Diamondbacks shorstop Alex Cintrón with a young Puerto Rican squad; and with the Dominicans, Royals pitcher José Lima and Giants infielder Pedro Feliz.