Cienfuegos, Granma & Pinar in Cuba’s Semifinals

HAVANA TIMES, April 3 — Cienfuegos, Granma and Pinar del Rio are set for the semifinals of Cuba’s baseball playoffs with the last ticket to be determined on Sunday in game seven between Ciego de Avila and Villa Clara.

Cienfuegos was the first team to qualify with an easy four games to one series win over Habana. Then on Saturday Pinar del Rio finished off Sancti Spiritus 2-1 in game six and Granma ended Guantanamo’s hopes winning game seven by a score of 10-2.

The Pinar del Rio win over Sancti Spiritus was a tough pitching duel with Yosvani Torres getting the win after going 7.2 innings and allowing only four hits and one unearned run. Julio Alfredo and Vladimir Baños put down a last ditch Sancti Spiritus attempt to tie.

Donal Duarte went 3-for-3 for Pinar including a solo homer. Yosvani Pereza drove in their other run.

In Granma the locals managed to win their second straight game after having trailed 3-2 to Guantanamo in their quarterfinals series. Game seven was a blow out from the start with Granma scoring six times in the bottom of the first inning and never looking back.

Manuel Vega picked up the win for Granma going 7.2 innings in relief of Lazaro Blanco who only managed one out in the one run first inning of Guantanamo. Vega allowed only two hits, one run and struck out three.

Yordanis Samon homered for Granma and Alfredo Despaigne maintained his torrid bat going 2-for-3 and driving in a run. Guantanamo was held to four hits.

On Sunday Villa Clara and Ciego de Avila, deadlocked 3-3 in their series, square off for game seven to be played in Ciego de Avila, which forced the final game by winning 7-3 on Saturday.

Ruben Valdes and Rusney Castillo both homered and drove in three and two runs respectively to lead Ciego de Avila. Mario Jorge Vega also drove in two.

The winning pitcher was Maikel Folch who pitched 4.2 innings in relief of Yadir Rabi. Folch gave up only two hits and struck out four.

When the semifinals begin next week, Pinar del Rio will face Cienfuegos in the Western Division and Granma meets the winner of today’s game between Villa Clara and Ciego de Avila in the Eastern Division.