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Updated: February 26, 2018
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
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(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photos by Henk Seppen)

Cuba sweeps Nicaragua in three games in Serie Internacional

MANAGUA (Nicaragua) - The National Team of Cuba swept Nicaragua in the 3-game Serie Internacional de Béisbol, which took place in Nicaraguan capital Managua. The games, which were all played in the new and beautiful Estadio Nacional Dennis Martínez, were played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (February 23-25). In August, Nicaragua organizes another international series and then will play a series of games against Japan. Coming weekend, Japan plays a 2-game series against Australia in Nagoya and Osaka in the Samuari Japan Series.

The first and third game were close, but were won by Cuba, 6-4 and 6-3, the last one in ten innings. In between, Cuba won 7-1.

The series of games was the first between the two countries in Nicaragua in six years. Since 2001, Nicaragua now has not won against Cuba in 21 games played since then. Cuba won 20, while one game ended in a tie.

Legendary righthanded pitcher Julio Juárez threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the first game. In 1972, Juárez played an important role for Nicaragua at the World Championship, which then was held in Managua. In the Summer of 1972, Juárez participated with Nicaragua in the Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem (Netherlands). In both the Baseball Week and the World Championship, Juárez was a teammate of Dennis Martínez, another legendary pitcher. Martínez, nicknamed 'El Presidente', became the first player from Nicaragua to play in the Major League and the stadium in Managua is named after him.

...Alexander Ayala playing for Cuba during the...
...2010 Haarlem Baseball Week in the Netherlands...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In a tight and attractive first game on Friday, Cuba took an early 2-0 lead, but Nicaragua rallied for four runs in its second at bat. Ofilio Castro, Norlando Valle and Darrel Campbell contributed to the Nicaraguan runs.

This lead also didn't last long, as Cuba came alongside in the fourth inning. Cuba then broke the tie and added a run in the eighth to make it a 6-4 score.

Cuba dominated in the second game on Saturday and led 6-1 in the fourth inning. Cuba scored another run in the seventh inning, while Nicaragua remained limited to only one run.

Cuba scored twice in the first inning off of lefthanded veteran Carlos Téller. Roel Santos and Juan Carlos Torriente opened with basehits and Guillermo Avilés walked to load the bases. With one out, Santos scored on a wild pitch and Torriente on a sacrifice fly by Alexander Ayala. Cuba added two runs in the second inning on consecutive basehits by Torriente and Avilés.

Before the start of the third game, there was a Homerun Derby. This was won by Lázaro Cedeño, who hit a total of 16 homeruns. Cedeño finished ahead of teammates Frederich Cepeda (15) and Guillermo Avilés (14) and Nicaraguan Javier Robles (15).

As Homerun King, Cedeño received an Award from Nemesio Porras, the President of the Federación Nicaragüense de Béisbol Asociado and himself a former National Team-player of Nicaragua.

...Frederich Cepeda hitting for Cuba during...
...the 2012 Haarlem Baseball Week...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The third game was decided in the tenth inning. Trailing 3-2 with one out in the top of the ninth inning, Cuba came alongside. Juan Carlos Torriente and Guillermo Avilés then both singled and veteran Frederich Cepeda delivered a runscoring single through the middle that made it a 3-3 score. As Nicaragua didn't score in its ninth at bat, an extra inning followed.

The international tie-break rule was used in the tenth inning which began with runners on first and second base. In the tenth inning, Cuba scored three runs, while Nicaragua was held scoreless. With the two tie-break runners on base in the top of the tenth, Lázaro Cedeño hit a double to bring in the first runner, then a following outfield-error enabled the second runner also to score.

Jilton Calderón batted in two of the three Nicaraguan runs with a single in the second inning, then scored the third run himself in the sixth on a triple by Javier Robles. Cuba scored its first run in the third inning on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Benitez, then scored its next run in the seventh on a hit by Avilés.

Guillermo Avilés was named Most Valuable Player of the Serie Internacional. He batted .545 (6-for-11).

(February 25)

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