By RENALDO DORSETT
Tribune Sports Reporter
Team Bahamas finished the 2022 Caribbean Baseball Cup in fourth place and missed out on an opportunity to qualify for the 2023 Central American and Caribbean Games.
The team concluded tournament play with a 4-2 loss to defending champion Curacao in the bronze medal game yesterday at the Andre Rodgers National Stadium.
D’Shawn Knowles’ two-run home run in the sixth inning briefly gave The Bahamas the lead before Curacao responded with four runs in the bottom half to take the lead for good.
Warren Saunders finished 2-3 with a run, Knowles finished 1-4 with a run and two RBI while Daunte Stuart, Yeshua Saint and Keithron Moss each added hits.
Gio Tomlins got the start and pitched three hitless, scoreless innings.
Travvis Ferguson was tagged with the loss in relief after 2.1 innings of work, surrendering four hits and three earned runs before McKell Bethell closed out the inning.
Evan Sweeting pitched two hitless innings and finished with two strikeouts.
A tied game through four innings, Curacao’s Rayshelon Carolina got the first hit of the game with a single to right field.
The Bahamas got their first hit and first base runner when Saunders singled to left field in the top of the sixth inning. With two out, Knowles hit his two-run shot to give the home team the lead and send the crowd into a frenzy. The umpiring crew initially ruled the play a foul before the call was overturned.
Curaçao responded offensively when they singled twice to place runners in scoring position, then Ortwin Vargas doubled to tie the game at 2.
Vargas eventually advanced to third and scored on a wild pitch to give Curacao a 3-2 lead. The lead reached 4-2 when Shurendell Mujica hit a sacrifice fly for the game’s final run.
Unable to mount a late rally, The Bahamas left runners on base in both the seventh and eighth innings.
The tournament will qualify two teams for the CAC Games, June 23 to July 8, in El Salvador. Cuba already qualified for the event prior to the Caribbean Cup. Puerto Rico, who advanced to the championship game, and bronze medallist Curacao advanced as CAC qualifiers.
The five participants in the tournament were world No. 9 Cuba, No. 16 Puerto Rico, No. 60 Curaçao, and No. 66 US Virgin Islands. The Bahamas is ranked No.80.
The Bahamas opened the competition with a 4-3 win over the US Virgin Islands. They followed with a 12-10 loss to Curacao, a 9-3 loss to Cuba and a 14-2 loss to Puerto Rico to complete the round robin stage 1-3. They lost 9-3 to Puerto Rico in the semifinals prior to yesterday’s loss to Curacao in the bronze medal game.
Managed by Geron Sands, the staff also included assistant head coach Albert Cartwright, alongside coaches Dominique Collie, Donovan Cox and Trae Sweeting.
Team Bahamas’ roster included a cross section of talent across various levels of play, including the minor leagues, independent baseball, collegiate baseball and locally.
The infielders included St Louis Cardinals prospect Adari Grant, New York Mets prospect Warren Saunders, Texas Rangers prospect Keithron Moss, Miami Marlins prospect Cherif Neymour along with Northwestern State’s Daunte Stuart, and Kennesaw State’s Jay Knowles. The outfielders were led by Los Angeles Angels prospect D’Shawn Knowles, who recently helped Great Britain qualify for the World Baseball Classic. The remainder of the outfield included Ellison Hanna of the Lake Eerie Crushers, Toby Simmons of the Miami Marlins, Kristin Munroe of the Los Angeles Angels, Kashon Conliffe of the San Diego Padres and highly touted International prospect for the class of 2023 - Janero Miller.
The pitching staff is headlined by Evan Sweeting who last pitched in the San Diego Padres organisation and D’Vaughn Knowles who was last with the New York Yankees organisation. Pitching staff also included Brandon Russell, Robin Haven, Carvin Dames, Derrinyj Russell, McKell Bethel, Gio Tomlins, Travvis Ferguson, Kennedy Cooper and Mateo Ferguson. The catchers were Ural Forbes, Yeshua Saint and Diontwon James.
Stuart led The Bahamas with a .333 batting average, followed by D’Shawn Knowles at .280, Saunders at .278, Grant at .273, and Hanna at .267.
Grant led the team with 4 RBI followed by Saunders with two. Knowles, Stuart, Moss, Hanna and Munroe each finished with two.
Knowles topped the hit list with seven, Stuart and Grant each finished with six, Saunders finished with five and Hanna had four.
In pitching, Sweeting got the lone win for Team Bahamas.
He surrendered a single hit and struck out five in four innings of work and finished with a 0.0 ERA.
Brandon Russell finished with eight strikeouts in 10 innings, Haven had six strikeouts in 7.2 innings and Saint had four strikeouts through six innings.