By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, April 24 — Ciego de Avila knocked out Yosvani Torres with a five-run third inning and Vladimir Garcia kept Pinar del Rio at bay to win his fifth playoff game of the postseason by a score of 5-3 and give his Eastern Division team a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series for the Cuban baseball title.
A three-run homer by DH Isaac Martinez led the one-inning Ciego de Avila surge and sent Pinar’s top pitcher of the postseason to the showers much earlier than planned.
Pinar reliever Erlis Casonova (5.1 innings, 3 hits, no runs) dominated Ciego bats the rest of the game to give his team a chance to attempt a comeback, which included a run in the fourth, sixth and seventh innings to bring the game within reach.
Meanwhile, Garcia (8.2 innings, 11 hits, 3 runs 8 strikeouts) worked his way out of jams for another team inspiring performance. His total dominance of Pinar slugger Yosvani Pereza (4 strikeouts) went a long way to make the difference.
Yadir Rabi came in to get the final out in the top of the ninth with a runner on second base to pick up a save.
Game two is scheduled for 3:00 p.m. Cuba time on Sunday in Ciego de Avila. The series shifts to Pinar del Rio for games 3, 4 and 5 (if necessary) on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.
Boxscore of Game One