WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — The Ballpark of the Palm Seashores stood starkly divided between Cubans and Venezuelans Monday, as followers flocked to the stadium dressed within the flags, hats and jerseys of their residence international locations as they battled within the opening sport of the Baseball Americas Qualifier.
However outdoors the stadium, protestors demonstrated in solidarity against the communist governments that govern every nation.
“Socialism is just destruction,” mentioned Eric Jimenez, a protest chief who emigrated from Cuba in 2014. “We can’t permit that to proceed in Cuba and Venezuela or anyplace else. So we’re right here to point out that many individuals are towards it and plenty of are keen to talk out.”
As for the opening sport of the event, which is able to assist decide the ultimate subject for the Summer season Olympics, Venezuela held on for a 6-5 victory. The win was the primary for Venezuela in a world-level event towards Cuba for the reason that 1953 World Cup
Within the first Olympic qualifying sport in Port St. Lucie, Florida, the Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico, 5-2. Luis Liberato’s tiebreaking residence run within the sixth inning was the game-winner.
Luke Williams and Jarren Duran mixed for six hits out of the highest two spots within the order, and Mark Kolosvery homered, as the USA defeated Nicaragua 7-1 late Monday in Port St. Lucie. The U.S. had 14 hits earlier than a crowd of three,500, establishing a matchup with Monday’s different Group A winner, the Dominican Republic, on Tuesday in West Palm Seashore. In Monday’s late sport in West Palm Seashore,
The 2 early video games marked the primary worldwide baseball competitors in a 12 months and a half as a result of coronavirus pandemic.
In West Palm Seashore, the protesters numbered within the lots of and transcended class, gender and age. However the numerous group consolidated its message right into a easy however poignant phrase: “patria y vida”
“This implies homeland and life,” Jimenez mentioned. “The Castro regime used one other phrase: homeland or dying. However life is a lot extra, life is humbling, with folks that suppose such as you and folks that don’t.”
The slogan was popularized by Cuban singer Yotuel Romero earlier this 12 months, and “patria y vida” discovered its manner into the ballpark by way of indicators, T-shirts and a loud second-inning chant.
Demonstrators displayed anti-Communist symbols, advocated for the liberty of Cuban political prisoners and known as for the overthrow of the regimes that at present rule Cuba and Venezuela.
Whereas a majority of the followers had been Cuban, plenty of Venezuelan followers took half in the protests and plenty of indicators and banners instructed a standard battle for the 2 counties.
“Venezuelans and Cubans are preventing for a similar factor, for freedom,” Jimenez mentioned. “The starvation, the oppression, the restrictions on the press, they went by way of the identical factor Cuba went by way of 60 years in the past.”
Palm Seashore County maintained a restricted capability because of COVID-19 protocols, however followers continued to protest in and outdoors of the stadium all through the sport. Chants of “libertidad” and “patria y vida” rang inside and outdoors the stadium.
Cuban baseball made political headlines final week when infielder César Prieto defected from the team after his arrival in the USA. Prieto elevated his probability of becoming a member of an MLB group by leaving his residence nation, and plenty of protestors supported Prieto’s choice.
“We’re preventing for liberty and I assist the freedom of the gamers,” mentioned Luis Esperon, supervisor of the “Make Cuba Nice Once more” clothes line. “I would like freedom for Cuba and my group so I’ve to assist him.”
Fellow Cuban defector and former Marlins pitching nice Livan Hernandez strode to the mound to hurl the ceremonial first pitch, drawing raucous applause from the socially distanced crowd. Hernandez’s pedigree didn’t linger on the mound, nonetheless, as Cuba allowed three runs in an erratic first inning.
Erisbel Arruebarrbuena halved Cuba’s deficit with a two-run blast into deep left subject, however Venezuela sealed its opening-round victory with a pair of solo pictures from Hernan Perez and Robinson Chirinos.
The mass of Cuban demonstrators had been escorted away from the ballpark towards the tip of the eighth inning.
Whereas the protestors meandered again to the car parking zone, Cuban outfielder Lisban Correa nearly reached them with a two-run moonshot that landed on the left subject promenade. Correa’s ninth inning homer arrange a dramatic end, however the Venezuelan bullpen did simply sufficient to carry on for the victory.
“We actually thought we had been going to win it there within the ninth,” Cuban supervisor Armando Fetter mentioned. “However we’re nonetheless studying and we’ve realized from this, so we consider that we’ll take the subsequent sport.”
Every crew has two extra pool play video games on Tuesday and Wednesday earlier than the semifinal spherical begins on Friday. The groups transfer north to Port St. Lucie Tuesday when Venezuela performs Columbia at 1 p.m., and Cuba performs Canada at 7 p.m.