GUADALAJARA, Mexico (AP) — Jonathan Morales hit a three-run homer in the seventh inning, and Puerto Rico won its second straight Caribbean Series title, rallying past the Dominican Republic 9-4 on Thursday night.
Down 4-3 in the seventh, Morales blasted his first home run of the tournament to give the Puerto Ricans their first lead of the game.
The Caguas Criollos, who rallied from a four-run deficit in their semifinal against Venezuela, gave Puerto Rico their 16th title in the tournament. Only the Dominican Republic (19) has more.
Rusney Castillo also homered for the Puerto Ricans, who played a shortened season after Hurricane Maria devastated the island last September.
“We overcame a big test because of the storm, but after Hurricane Maria I felt like we were going to win this, it was not normal what I felt, but we did it for the island,” Morales said. “We were tested but we overcame them because we are tough.”
Puerto Rico won back-to-back championships for the first time since 1992-93.
“Before the tournament I did not want to talk about the back-to-back championships because I did not want to put extra pressure on the guys, but they made it a reality,” Puerto Rico manager Luis Matos said. “Hurricane Maria was a disaster, the season was shortened and we played during the day and with lower salaries. There were a lot of things going on but we needed to put a fight, and we did it.”
The Dominican Republic was trying to win its first title since 2012.