(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Granma wins again to take lead in Cuban Championship Series
BAYAMO, Granma (Cuba) -
Reigning champion Alazanes de Granma recorded a convincing 11-5 win against Leñadores de Las Tunas on Thursday (January 25) in Game 5 of the best-of-seven Final of the Serie Nacional de Béisbol in Cuba.
With that, Granma took a 3-2 lead in the Final after having lost the first two games.
Las Tunas had opened on Saturday with a 6-5 victory and then added a bigger 11-4 win on Sunday.
The Series then moved to Bayamo, where Granma won 10-6 on Tuesday to cut the lead of Las Tunas in half and equaled the Final by winning 4-2 on Tuesday.
The Series now returns to Las Tunas, where Game 6 will be played on Saturday.
Granma opened the score in the bottom of the first inning on a single by Carlos Benitez Perez, but Las Tunas came alongside in the top of the second inning.
A single by Yordanis Alarcon Tardio then made it an 1-1 score.
In the bottom of the third inning, Granma broke open the game, scoring seven runs on five basehits, including a grand slam homerun.
Roel Santos Martínez led off with a walk, stole second base and scored the go-ahead run on a following single by Yordan Manduley Escalona.
A pitching change followed, but new pitcher Yudiel Rodriguez Leon hit next hitter Guillermo Aviles Difurno with a pitch.
With two runners on base, veteran Alfredo Despaigne Rodriguez delivered a runscoring single to make it a 3-1 score.
Another pitching change followed and Alejandro Meneces Abellei took the mound for Las Tunas.
He was greeted with a runscoring single from Benitez and got the bases loaded when he hit Lazaro Cedeño Gonzalez with a pitch.
Raul Gonzalez Isidoria then hit the ball over the stands in leftfield for a grand slam homerun to increase the lead to 8-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Gonzalez homered again for the home team.
Trailing 9-1, Las Tunas rallied for four runs in the top of the sixth inning.
With one out and two runners on base, Alarcon delivered a runscoring single.
Hereafter, the bases got loaded when Andres Quiala Herrera walked, which led to a pitching change.
Cesar García Rondon took over, but he gave up a 2-run double to Yuniesky Larduet Dominguez and walked Jorge Yhonson Dixon.
With the bases loaded again, Yosver Zulueta Gonzalez became the new pitcher for Granma.
He saw another run being scored on a single by Danel Castro Muñagorri, but then retired the next two hitters.
In the bottom of the eighth inning, Granma took some more distance when Manduley hit a 2-run homerun to make it an 11-5 score.
Las Tunas outhit Granma 14-13.
Yordanis Alarcon (Las Tunas) and Raul Gonzalez (Granma) were both 4-for-4.
Granma comes alongside Las Tunas in Cuban Final. (January 24)
Granma cuts lead Las Tunas in half in Cuban Final. (January 23)
Las Tunas leads 2-0 in Cuban Championship Series. (January 22)