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Updated: March 10, 2021
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Copyright © 1997-2021
Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)

Matanzas avoids sweep with 1-0 win in Cuban Semi-Final

SANCTI SPÍRITUS (Cuba) - Cocodrilos de Matanzas needed only one run to win Game 3 of the best-of-seven Semi-Final against Leñadores de Las Tunas on Wednesday (March 10). With the win, Matanzas avoided a sweep, as Las Tunas had won the first two games.

On Sunday, Las Tunas won 4-2 and the next day, a 10-6 victory was recorded. The winner of this series will advance to the all-deciding Championship Final of the 60th edition of the Cuban Serie Nacional de Béisbol. Game 4 will be played on Thursday.

The winner of this Semi-Final meets Alazanes de Granma in the best-of-seven Championship Final. On February 27, Granma won its best-of-seven Semi-Final against Vegueros de Pinar del Río 4-2 to become the first finalist.

(March 10)

Related Articles:
Las Tunas also wins second game of Cuban Semi-Final. (March 8)
Las Tunas wins opener second Cuban Semi-Final. (March 7)

Game 3: Las Tunas vs. Matanzas

At Estadio José A. Huelga in Sancti Spíritus, the first six innings remained scoreless. After nine innings, Matanzas had scored one run, which proved to be enough, as strong pitching held Las Tunas scoreless.

Matanzas got its first two runners on base in the top of the first inning. With one out, Yadil Mujica Díaz singled off of starter Alejandro Meneses Abelleira, but he was caught stealing moments later. Ariel Sánchez Sánchez then walked, but stranded on first base. The team was retired in order in the second inning, then left another runner behind on first base in the third at bat.

Las Tunas produced three basehits in its first three at bats off of starter Reinier Rivero Estrada and also got into scoring position. With one out in the bottom of the first inning, Andrés Quiala Herrera singled, as did Yosvani Alarcón Tardio with two outs. But Rivero then closed with a strikeout. In both the second and third inning, Las Tunas left a runner behind on first base.

Both teams were retired in order in the fourth inning, then reached base again in the fifth. Yasiel Santoya Zulueta singled for Matanzas with one out, but a double play followed. And for Las Tunas, Héctor Castillo Blair walked with one out. The inning ended when Castillo was picked off first base in a close play. A challenge followed, but the call by 1B Umpire Jorge Niebla Rodríguez was confirmed.

Matanzas then got a big opportunity to open the score in the top of the sixth inning, as the team got the bases loaded. With one out, Aníbal Medina Pérez and Yadil Mujica Díaz singled. The two advanced on a grounder and then Yariel Duque Salgado walked, which loaded the bases. The three runners were left behind, as a grounder ended the at bat.

In the bottom of the sixth, Las Tunas left a runner behind at first base. And so, the game was still scoreless after six innings. But that changed in the top of the seventh.

Yadir Drake Domínguez led off for Matanzas with a line drive into deep leftfield. It appeared the ball would leave the field, but it hit the fence and Drake ended up on second base with a double. With one out, it was Juan Miguel Vázquez Trujillo who drove the ball into deep rightfield. Again, it had homerun-distance, but the ball was caught by rightfielder Andrés Quiala Herrera just in front of the fence (and the Matanzas bullpen). On this flyout, Drake advanced to third base and he then scored when next batter Eduardo Blanco Díaz singled. That led to a pitching change. Alberto Pablo Civil Hidalgo took over, saw Blanco steal second base, but closed the at bat with a strikeout.

Las Tunas also got into scoring position in its seventh at bat. Yordanis Alarcón Tardio led off with a walk. Next batter Andrés De La Cruz then turned for a bunt. On an inside pitch by Reinier Rivero Estrada, De La Cruz turned away, but the ball hit his bat just above his right hand. The ball ended up in fair territory, as signaled by Home Plate Umpire Luis Figueredo Terrero and was picked by catcher Roberto Loredo Sarria (who had just entered the game), who then tagged De La Cruz, while Alarcón moved to second base. That led to a discussion. The six umpires got together, discussed the situation and then it was ruled a foul ball, as the ball also hit the chest of De La Cruz after it had hit the bat while he was in the batter's box. And so, Alarcón returned to first base and De La Cruz continued his at bat. However, Alarcón was then forced out on a bunt by De La Cruz. With a 2-0 count on next batter Manuel Alejandro Avila Martínez, Matanzas-Manager Armando Jesus Ferrer Ruiz came to the mound to make pitching change. Lefthander Naykel Yoel Cruz Saldívar took over the pitching from Rivero to finish the at bat of lefthanded hitting Avila, but he was replaced by righthanded pinch-hitter Denis Peña Rivero. And so, this at bat involved two different pitchers and two different batters. Cruz struckout Peña on three pitches. Hereafter, Cruz hit Eduardo García Torres with a pitch, but a flyout ended the at bat.

In the top of the eighth, Matanzas was retired in order by Alberto Pablo Civil Hidalgo. In the bottom of the eighth, Las Tunas got another chance to come alongside. Andrés Quiala Herrera led off with a single and Danel Castro Moñagorry walked. With two runners on base and no outs, Joel Suárez Hernández became the new pitcher and he got three flyouts.

Both teams were then retired in order in the ninth inning. With that, one run was enough for Matanzas to win this game and avoid a sweep.

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