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Updated: March 11, 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 wins in 11 innings to even Cuban Semi-Final

SANCTI SPÍRITUS (Cuba) - Cocodrilos de Matanzas won 12-7 in eleven innings in Game 4 of the best-of-seven Semi-Final against Leñadores de Las Tunas on Thursday (March 11). With the win, Matanzas not only came alongside (2-2), but also forced at least a sixth game.

On Sunday, Las Tunas won 4-2 and the next day, a 10-6 victory was recorded. Matanzas then won Game 3 on Wednesday with a 1-0 score. Game 5 will be played on Friday.

There was a lot of action in the fourth game. Matanzas led 7-0 after two innings, but Las Tunas came alongside. Matanzas then struck again in the eleventh at bat of this game, which lasted four hours and 25 minutes.

Matanzas collected 21 basehits, including six by Yadir Drake Domínguez, who also batted in seven runs. Drake only missed the triple to hit for-the-cycle. Eduardo Blanco Díaz recorded four basehits and made a game-saving catch.

Las Tunas produced 15 basehits, including four by the brothers Yosvani and Yordanis Alarcón Tardio.

The winner of this series will advance to the all-deciding Championship Final of the 60th edition of the Cuban Serie Nacional de Béisbol. In this Series, the opponent is Alazanes de Granma, which became the first finalist on February 27 after winning its Semi-Final against Vegueros de Pinar del Río 4-2.

(March 11)

Related Articles:
Matanzas avoids sweep with 1-0 win in Cuban Semi-Final. (March 10)
Las Tunas also wins second game of Cuban Semi-Final. (March 8)
Las Tunas wins opener second Cuban Semi-Final. (March 7)

Game 4: Las Tunas vs. Matanzas

Matanzas struck early at Estadio José A. Huelga in Sancti Spíritus, as the team scored three runs in the top of the first inning and added four more in the next at bat. However, from the third inning on, Matanzas was kept scoreless and Las Tunas came back into the game. After six innings, the score was 7-7. Matanzas then rallied for five runs in the eleventh inning.

In the top of the first inning, Matanzas opened the score with two outs off of starting pitcher Angel Sánchez Pérez. With one out, Yadil Mujica Díaz walked and Jefferson Delgado Castañeda singled. With two outs, both scored when Yadir Drake Domínguez homered. Next batter Yasiel Santoya Zulueta walked, but Sánchez then closed with a strikeout.

In the bottom of the first inning, Las Tunas got two baserunners with two outs off of starter Naykel Yoel Cruz Saldívar, who threw 2/3 inning in relief in Wednesday's game. First, Danel Castro Moñagorry walked, then next batter Yosvani Alarcón Tardio make contact on a pitch from Cruz. He didn't hit the ball hard and after a hop, it rolled towards the third base foul-line. Catcher Andrys Pérez Garcia, third baseman Jefferson Delgado Castañeda, Home Plate Umpire Luis Felipe Casañas Pons and 3B Umpire Jorge Niebla Rodríguez all watched the ball rolling, but it stopped just besides the chalk-line in fair territory. With that, Alarcón reached on an infield-hit. Now with two runners on base, Rafael Viñales Alvarez hit a line drive into deep right/centerfield. But there, rightfielder Yadir Drake Domínguez made a great diving catch, which ended the inning.

Matanzas took more distance in the top of the second inning with a 4-run rally. Andrys Pérez Garcia and Eduardo Blanco Díaz led off with a single. Keniel Ferraz Pérez then took over the pitching and he saw the two runners advance on a sacrifice bunt by Aníbal Medina Pérez. A run was then scored when Yadil Mujica Díaz followed with a single. With runners at the corners, Matanzas got the bases loaded when Jefferson Delgado Castañeda was hit by a pitch. The next run was scored on a single by Javier Camero Rodríguez and two more runs were added when Yadir Drake Domínguez added a double. That led to another pitching change. Yasel Luis Labrada Goulborne took over and got a flyout. With two outs and first base open, Ariel Sánchez Sánchez was walked intentionally. Three runners were left behind, as a flyout ended the at bat, but Matanzas now had an apparently comfortable 7-0 lead.

Las Tunas got on the board in the bottom of the third inning with a 4-run rally. Yuniesky Larduet Domínguez led off with a triple. Next batter Andrés Quiala Herrera hit a pop-fly in centerfield, where the ball was caught by short stop Yadil Mujica Díaz. Although the ball was caught close to the infield, Larduet took off from third base in an attempt to score. However, he got into a rundown, but returned safely to third base. When avoiding the tag from third baseman Jefferson Delgado Castañeda, Larduet appeared to be outside his running lane, but 3B Umpire Jorge Niebla Rodríguez signaled that that wasn't the case and so, the runner stayed on third base. Moments later, Larduet scored on a double by veteran Danel Castro Moñagorry, who apparently sustained a leg-injury on his way to second base. The 44-year old Castro stayed in the game, then scored on a following double by Yosvani Alarcón Tardio. Las Tunas then got runners on first and third base when Rafael Viñales Alvarez singled and the rally continued with a runscoring single from Yordanis Alarcón Tardio. With runners on first and second base, one out and Matanzas now leading 7-3, a pitching change followed. David Mena Justiz took over, but walked Andrés De La Cruz Matos, which loaded the bases. Viñales then scored on a sacrifice fly by Manuel Alejandro Avila Martínez. With the bases still loaded, Mena closed with a strikeout, but Las Tunas had narrowed the deficit to 7-4.

In the bottom of the fourth inning, Las Tunas scored two more runs. Yuniesky Larduet Domínguez led off with a single and stole second base. With two outs, Yosvani Alarcón Tardio hit a line drive, RBI-double into leftfield. Hereafter, Rafael Viñales Alvarez walked and Yordanis Alarcón Tardio following with a runscoring single, which made it a 7-6 score. With runners on first and third base, the inning ended with a strikeout.

In the fifth inning, Matanzas got runners on first and second base with two outs, but a force out followed. Las Tunas had a runner on third base with two outs, but he was left behind.

In the bottom of the sixth, it became a complete new game, as Las Tunas came alongside. With one out, Yosvani Alarcón Tardio and Rafael Viñales Alvarez both singled, then Yordanis Alarcón Tardio delivered a runscoring single that enable his brother to score the tying run. A pitching followed and Joel Suárez Hernández took over. He was supported with a double play, but the score now was 7-7.

With two outs in the top of seventh, Matanzas got the bases loaded. Eduardo Blanco Díaz reached on an error, Aníbal Medina Pérez walked after hitting several foul balls and then Yadil Mujica Díaz also walked. Alberto Pablo Civil Hidalgo, the son of Las Tunas-Manager Pablo Alberto Civil Espinosa, took over the pitching and got a full count on next batter Jefferson Delgado Castañeda, but he then hit a force play-grounder that ended the inning.

In the top of the eighth inning, Javier Camero Rodríguez led off for Matanzas with a single. His pinch-runner Edel Tamayo Román advanced to third base on two grounders. With two outs, Ariel Sánchez Sánchez walked intentionally. Two runners stranded, as Sánchez was forced out on second base moments later.

In the meantime, Las Tunas was retired in order in both the seventh and eighth inning.

After Matanzas had left a runner behind on first base in the top of the ninth, Las Tunas came into scoring position with two outs in the bottom of the ninth when Andrés De La Cruz Matos singled. He moved into scoring position when the ball hit by next batter Manuel Alejandro Avila Martínez just landed in fair territory down the leftfield-line. However, they were left behind, as a strikeout closed the bat bat.

And so, the game went into extra innings.

In the top of the tenth, Mazantas stranded runners on first and second base. With one out, Yadir Drake Domínguez hit his fifth basehit in the game. With two outs, Ariel Sánchez Sánchez also singled, but the two were left behind.

Las Tunas was retired in order in the bottom of the tenth, which ended with a great catch by centerfielder Eduardo Blanco Díaz. With two outs, Danel Castro Moñagorry drove the ball into the deepest point of the stadium in centerfield. There, Blanco jumped up and caught the ball just in front of the fence.

Matanzas then decided the game with a 5-run rally with two outs in the top of the eleventh inning. Blanco, who had just made a great catch, led off with a single and was brought to second base via a sacrifice bunt by Aníbal Medina Pérez After a flyout accounted for the second out, Jefferson Delgado Castañeda was walked intentionally to set up a force play, which was a crucial and decisive moment. Moments later, the bases got loaded when pinch-hitter Willian Luis Campillo walked. Hereafter, Yadir Drake Domínguez, who already had recorded five basehits (homerun, double, three singles), was productive again. Drake hit the ball through the middle for a 2-run single to put Matanzas ahead 9-7, while Luis advanced to third base on an outfield-error. With an 1-0 count on next batter Yasiel Santoya Zulueta, a pitching change was made and Yosbel Alarcón Tardio took over. Luis then scored the next run on an infield-hit by Santoya. The scoring wasn't over yet, as Ariel Sánchez Sánchez also followed with a runscoring single. That led to the next pitching change, as Elexis Valera Banegas was brought to the mound. But he got the bases loaded when he walked Evelio Yoel Hernández Martínez. Another run was added on a single by Blanco (his second in this at bat), which lifted the lead to 12-7. The inning ended with a force out, but Matanzas had turned the game its way again.

In the bottom of the eleventh, Yordanis Alarcón Tardio singled with two outs for Las Tunas. But the inning and the game ended with a flyout.

Besides the offensive heroics of Yadir Drake Domínguez (6 basehits, homerun, 7 runs batted in), reliever and winning pitcher Joel Suárez Hernández also played an important role today for Matanzas. After taking over in the bottom of the sixth inning, he gave up only three more basehits to Las Tunas in the remainder of the game and held the team scoreless. Suárez retired the side in the seventh, eighth and tenth inning and allowed only one runner to reach second base in the 5 2/3 inning he pitched. Drake set a postseason-record with his six basehits.

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