Obregon defends Mexican League title

The Ciudad Obregón Yaquis will get a rare chance to defend their 2011 Caribbean Series title. That’s because they defeated the Guasave Algodoneros to win the Mexican Pacific League crown for the second time in a row.

Led by an offense featuring former Cuban national team first baseman Barbaro Canizares -- who found his power stroke to lead the MPL in home runs -- as well as former big leaguers Alfredo Amezaga, Doug Clark and Karim Garcia, the Yaquis put together a 19-run, 25-hit attack in Game 6 of the finals to clinch the series in convincing fashion.

Ciudad Obregón is only the fourth team in MPL history to win back-to-back titles and the first to do it with a foreign born manager as Eddie Diaz, from the Dominican Republic, has led the squad each of the past two seasons.

The Yaquis have recruited former Pittsburgh Pirates catcher Humberto Cota and former Colorado Rockies left-hander Dan Serafini for the Caribbean Series, and will head to Santo Domingo searching to become the first team to repeat as Caribbean Series champion since the Dominican Republic’s Aguilas Cibaenas accomplished the feat in 1998 under manager Mike Quade and then 1999, when they were skippered by Tony Pena, later the American League Manager of the Year and currently the Yankees’ bench coach.

The Caribbean Series will be played February 2-7 at Santo Domingo’s Estadio Quisqueya.

Mayaguez wins title in Puerto Rico

The Mayaguez Indios defeated the Caguas Criollos 5-3 in the best-of-nine series for the Puerto Rico Baseball League, winning their league-leading 17th title since the circuit’s founding in 1939. Managed by former Cincinnati Reds and current Yankees Triple-A manager Dave Miley, the Indios overcame injuries to key starters such as Randy Ruiz and Miguel Negron to defeat the Criollos, who came into the series as the favorites sporting a lineup that included league MVP Jorge Padilla and veteran infielder Alex Cora.

Led by the offense of Jesus Feliciano, Sergio Miranda, Irving Falu and Milwaukee Brewers backup catcher Martin Maldonado, the Indios were able to prevail as Miley received solid pitching from his relief corps led by Justin Thomas.

Battle of wills in Dominican final

The Escogido Leones and Aguilas Cibaenas have engaged in a dramatic back-and-forth in the best-of-nine Dominican League final series with Escogido winning the first three games and Aquilas battling back to win three in a row.

The Leones, led by Julio Lugo, Andy Dirks and Fernando Tatis finally broke through in Game 7 to give Escogido a 5-2 victory to take the series lead and a chance to win the title over the weekend.

Meanwhile, the Aguilas were able to battle back as the bats of Miguel Tejada, Elian Herrera and Joaquin Arias finally awoke in Game 4 and spilled into Game 5 to lead a dramatic comeback win against Escogido closer Fernando Rodney, a victory which was sealed by the perfect relief of Miguel Batista. Batista has eased into the Aguilas’ closer role and notched two of the team’s three victories in the final.

Aragua on verge of the Venezuelan title

The Aragua Tigres are one victory away from winning their sixth title in the last 10 years after starter Yusmeiro Petit shut down the La Guaira Tiburones over five innings to give the Tigres a 7-1 Game 5 victory and a 3-2 series lead.

Aragua has at times looked dominant with catcher Wilson Ramos, who seems to have gotten over the effects of his November kidnapping, leading the way batting .444 in the finals. They also got help from the veteran bats of Edgardo Alfonzo, who hit his first home run of the finals in Game 5, and Hector Gimenez, who have come through with clutch hits in significant situations.

La Guaira is going through an offensive drought. Gregor Blanco, Oscar Salazar and Cesar Suarez were key hitters in La Guaira’s success in the semifinal round-robin, but they are batting a combined .177 in the finals. La Guaira is seeking its first Venezuelan League crown in 26 years.