Sandoval leads Venezuelan team to victory

Just three months after becoming the first Venezuelan to win the

World Series MVP award, Pablo Sandoval is celebrating a new feat –

the championship win of his team in Venezuela’s professional


The 26-year-old slugger helped lead his team, the Navegantes del

Magallanes, to an 11-9 win on Wednesday night in the final game of

the championship series over the Cardenales.

Sandoval hit one homerun and two doubles, and had two RBIs. He

was selected most valuable player for the series, and his team won

its first title since 2002 in the Venezuelan Professional Baseball


Sandoval said afterward while celebrating that it was an

experience to remember, right up there with October’s World Series

win with the San Francisco Giants.

”There’s nothing like being champion here in Venezuela with the

Navegantes. Although it can’t be compared with winning the World

Series, because they’re different things. But it’s very special to

be champion here,” Sandoval told reporters.

Sandoval batted .300 with three home runs and nine RBIs in the

series. Sandoval’s team will go on to represent Venezuela in the

upcoming Caribbean Series in Hermosillo, Mexico.

He said it had been worth the effort of securing permission from

the Giants to play in Venezuela. Sandoval and other major leaguers

often come home to play in the offseason, even though their

better-paying U.S. teams frequently discourage it because of the

chance of injury.

Sandoval said the Navegantes’ loss in 2010 in the championship

had been like a ”little thorn” irritating him for the past three

years. In that series, Sandoval didn’t want to miss the seventh and

decisive game, and he flew in at the last minute, rushing by

helicopter from Caracas to the city of Valencia. He got a hit, but

his team still lost 7-2 to the rival Caracas Leones.

”This time I did everything I could so that the Giants would

let me play, to take this team to the title. It’s a dream come

true,” Sandoval said. ”Being champions with the Magallanes and

with the Giants the same year is something very special. I feel

very happy to have contributed and to have been selected as