Translation: Marlys Rodríguez Francisco
Photos: Ismael Francsico
The current champion of the Cuban baseball escaped humiliation in its own field, rebelled against the visitor, and extended the play-off to a 5th game.
With the series 3×0 against them, the Orangemen from Villa Clara unleashed its fury vs. Joel Suárez, massacred and expelled from the box by the locals’ first three men on the line up.
Consecutive doubles by Yuniet Flores and Yorbis Borroto combined with Yordanis Linarez’ homer, and Victor Mesa surrendered to the need of bringing Eduardo Blanco, a right-handed hurler with little experience and peculiar movements.
From that moment on, the Leopards’ offensive turned off as heavy rains do with fires, a replica of what occurred last February 27 when they managed to get Yoanni Yera out of the box. And while the reliever conquered zero after zero-he only allowed two hits in 6, 1 innings-, Matanzas got closer in the score, and the audience grew pessimistic about the final outcome.
The Reds scored one in the 3rd due to an uncontrolled Yasmani Hernández Rojas, and Rudeldis García unnecessary throw to second (it’s obvious the catcher is not good at throwing at bases). They added one more through Yasiel Santoya’s big homer.
Paddling against the current, Victor Mesa’s boys moved on to give the final beat, which would have allowed them to get to finals around one week before the winner of the other match between Industriales and Pinar del Río. They got closer in the score little by little, and locals seemed possessed; the support of the fans, the inspiring defense plays of Yeniet Pérez and the innovations in the lineup did nothing to lift the spirits.
Fortunately for the hosts, Robelio Carrillo had replaced Hernández Rojas, fully mastering his curve and positioning his fastball (not that fast) in the right places. Thus, we arrived at the last third. The most known Lázaro Blanco substituted Eduardo, and though he cleared rivals in the 7th, he couldn’t avoid Villa Clara’s 4th run, brought over by lefties Flores and Linarez, the latter finally accomplished his role in the formation.
The stab seemed decisive, and so it was. Carrillo was hardly beaten in the closing inning but his infield saved the result. Monarchs avoided the sweep, and Santa Clara will witness another game.
Positive: Carrillo’s relieve. Negative: Flores stolen base in the 8th. Alarming: Matanzas’ starters don’t meet their missions. Suggestion: Andy Sarduy is needed at second base to guarantee defense. Unbelievable: If Ariel Sánchez is not injured or penalized nothing explains his absence in the regular roster.