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Updated: February 28, 2021
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Grand Slam/Marco Stoovelaar
Compiled and Copyright © 1997-2021 by Marco Stoovelaar

(Story by Marco Stoovelaar; Photo by Henk Seppen)

Las Tunas records shutout-win, as last Cuban Quater Final resumes

CAMAGÜEY (Cuba) - Leñadores de Las Tunas won 3-0 against Avispas de Santiago de Cuba on Sunday-afternoon (February 28) in Game 2 of the best-of-five Quarter Final of the 60th edition of the Cuban Serie Nacional de Béisbol. The game was played 33 days after the series was halted at the end on January. With today's result, the series is now tied at 1-1. Game 3 will be played on Tuesday.

Santiago de Cuba opened the series with a 7-4 win on January 26, but thereafter, this series was put on hold. After tests had been done, there were several positive cases of the coronavirus (COVID-19) in the team of Santiago de Cuba. In some reports, a total of some 20 cases was mentioned, while there also were a few cases in the team of Las Tunas. According to the health protocols and procedures, everyone involved was put in isolated quantaine and more tests were done. A week ago, it was announced that the series was to resume again today (Sunday). The last days, both teams worked out at their home-site, then traveled to Camagüey, where this Quarter Final will be played in its entirety at Estadio Cándido González. Both teams and everyone involved will stay in the same hotel in a 'bubble'.

Three days after completion of this series, the winner stays in Camagüey to face reigning champion Cocodrilos de Matanzas in the best-of-seven Semi-Final. Matanzas had reached the Semi-Final by completing a 3-0 sweep on Tuesday, February 16 against Elefantes de Cienfuegos.

The winner of the Semi-Final then will meet Alazanes de Granma in the best-of-seven Championship Final. On Saturday (February 27), Granma won 13-3 in eight innings against Vegueros de Pinar del Río to win the first Semi-Final, 4-2 and advance to the Final. However, Granma now has to wait at least two weeks to know who it will meet in the Final.

Santiago de Cuba vs. Las Tunas

Santiago de Cuba was the first to get a runner in scoring position. In the bottom of the first inning, Yoelkis Guibert Steven singled with one out and moved to second base on a passed ball, but was left behind.

Las Tunas then opened the score with an unearned run in the second at bat off of starter Alberto Bicet Labrada. Lead-off hitter Yosvani Alarcón Tardio reached on an error. With one out, he moved to third base on a single by his brother Yordanis Alarcón Tardio, then scored on a wild pitch. The second Alarcón later stranded on third base.

Santiago the Cuba also got a runner in the second and third inning off of starter Carlos Juan Viera Alvarez. But in the second, its runner was elimininated in a double play and in the third, the runner stranded on first base. The team was retired in order in the fourth, then collected its third basehit in the bottom of the fifth. Osday Silva Hernández led off with a single, but he was left behind on second base.

Santiago-starter Bicet also encountered no further problems after having given up the run in the second inning. He retired the side in the top of the third inning. In the fourth, the righthander struckout Danel Castro Moñagorry and Yosvani Alarcón Tardio. He then gave up a single to Rafael Viñales Alvarez, but he was forced out. In the fifth, he gave up a lead-off single to Andrés De La Cruz Matos, but he was later also forced out.

...Danel Castro playing for Cuba in the 2010...
...Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem (Netherlands)...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Castro and Alarcón are the veterans in the Las Tunas-squad. The 44-year old Castro is the designated hitter of the team and a former infielder with a very long career, as he is playing in his 27th season in the Serie Nacional. Castro, who made his debut in the Cuban league in the 1993-1994 season, also has a long career in the Cuban National Team. He won the Gold Medal at the 1998 World Championship in Italy and in 2003 in Cuba and was a member of the Silver-team at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney (Australia). In 2010, Castro participated in the Haarlem Baseball Week in Haarlem (Netherlands). The 36-year old catcher Yosvani Alarcón also participated with the Cuban National Team in several international events, including the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the 2015 Premier12, the 2011 World Championship and the 2010 Intercontinental Cup.

Las Tunas got close to its second run in the top of the sixth. With one out, the team got the bases loaded. Danel Castro Moñagorry walked, Yosvani Alarcón Tardio singled and Rafael Viñales Alvarez also walked, but a double play ended the at bat.

After Santiago de Cuba was retired in order in its sixth, Las Tunas scored its second run moments later. With one out in the top of the seventh, Denis Peña Rivero homered off of Bicet, who was relieved after having thrown seven innings. Yoandri Montero Luna took over the pitching in the eighth and then retired the side.

Las Tunas-pitcher Viera dominated. In the first seven innings, the righthander got only four baserunners, two of them reached second base. From the third inning on, he retired 13 of the next 14 batters. He retired nine in a row since the fifth, striking out the side in the seventh. Santiago de Cuba then got its first baserunner since the fifth when Dennis Ala Beltrán led off the eighth with a double. But he also didn't got beyond second base.

In the top of the ninth, Las Tunas added an insurance run. With two outs, Andrés De La Cruz Matos doubled and scored on a following single by Denis Peña Rivero to make it a 3-0 score.

In the bottom of the ninth, Carlos Juan Viera Alvarez retired the first two batters and that ended his afternoon. After he had thrown 8 2/3 strong scoreless innings, Yoalkis Cruz Rondón was inserted to close the game. But he was greeted with a single by Adriel Labrada Marén. The righthander then threw two consecutive wild pitchers (the first a swinging strike, the second a ball), which enabled Labrada to become the first Santiago-player to reach third base. Cruz threw the first in the ground in front of the catcher, then the second wasn't even close the plate and was way of course. Cruz apparently had a wrist-injury and Las Tunas-Manager Pablo Alberto Civil Espinosa immediately made a change. With an 1-1 count on batter Ariel Enrique Benavides Rouseaux, Yudier Rodríguez León took over. He struckout Benavides to end the game and earn a save.

(February 28)

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