Puerto Rico beat the Dominican Republic on Thursday night in the annual Caribbean Series — but this wasn’t any ordinary baseball victory. No, for Puerto Rico, an island that’s still reeling from the damage Hurricane Maria left in September, this victory was extra sweet.
When it was over — a 9-4 victory that secured Puerto Rico’s second straight Caribbean Series title — the message from players was clear: This was bigger than baseball, this was for their home. They were playing in Mexico, but they were playing for Puerto Rico.
Jonathan Morales, who hit a three-run homer in the seventh that put the game away for Puerto Rico, told Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com:
“This victory means a lot for me and my country of Puerto Rico, because it’s been hard and it’s been a tough situation because of the hurricane,” Morales said. “But it doesn’t matter, because when you have God in your heart, you play and you get that W. I feel blessed.”
In Puerto Rico, more than 500,000 people are still without power four months after Hurricane Maria’s impact. While baseball isn’t the most important part of that, as Sanchez notes, the hurricane did shorten the team’s season and made it so all their games had to be played in the daylight. Here’s the scene after they won:
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) February 9, 2018
Puerto Rico’s manager Luis Matos said afterward:
“This is an opportunity you don’t have every day. It’s hard to be a champion in Puerto Rico, to win back-to-back titles and to come here to the Caribbean Series and do the same thing. I know we were able to give some joy and excitement for a week. Puerto Rico is going through a lot of things, but I know Puerto Rico is very happy for this and they are enjoying it right now.”
After a catastrophe, every win feels even bigger — and that’s something the Puerto Rican baseball team can attest to.
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