In the Central American and Caribbean Games
by Ray Otero (Baseballdecuba.com)
HAVANA TIMES — A pitching gem by right-hander Norge Luis Ruiz (1-0) during 8 innings and a final scone from Hector Mendoza, allowed Cuba to open with a 4-0 win over Puerto Rico in Veracruz on Saturday at the start of the baseball tournament the Central American and Caribbean Games.
Ruiz, who allowed only one hit to the Puerto Rican lineup stacked with Class AA players, gave Cuba its first tournament victory in Group A. The team has a bye on Sunday before playing the host Mexicans on Monday.
The righty from Camaguey completed 8 innings, striking out 6 and walking two. The only Puerto Rican hit came from third baseman Andy Gonzalez in the fourth inning.
Ruiz had little trouble throughout the afternoon using his fastball and curve against the team of experienced PR players.
The offensive support Ruiz needed came little by little.
In the third inning off starter Luis Cintron (0-1), veteran Cuban first baseman Alex Malleta opened the frame with a hit to center, moving to second on a passed ball. He reached third on a deep fly to center by Yosvany Alarcon and tagged to score on a fly by leadoff batter Danier Moreira.
The lone run would have been enough for the Cuban triumph, but in the seventh Frederich Cepeda hit a solo homer off reliever Jean Ortega to take a 2-0 lead.
Puerto Rican starter Luis Cintron once again pitched well against the Cuban lineup allowing only 4 hits and a run over five innings. He left the game in the sixth inning after being struck by a ball from the bat of Luis Yander La O, credited with a hit.
The insurance runs that would seal the Cuban victory came in the eighth inning against reliever Jose Ayala. Alarcon opened the inning with a single and shortstop Yordan Manduley – who came in for Moreira – sacrificed him to second. Yulieski Gourriel followed with an RBI double to left for the third Cuban run. Shortly after, Gourriel crossed the plate on a single by Alfredo Despaigne to end the scoring.
With a 4-0 lead, Ruiz left the mound and in the ninth and another prospect, right-hander Hector Mendoza, completed the inning without difficulty.
Cuban manager Victor Mesa opened the game with the following lineup:
1. Dainer Moreira-SS
2. Luis Yander La O-3B
3. Yulieski Gourriel-2B
4. Alfredo Despaigne-LF
5. Frederich Cepeda-DH
6. Yadiel Hernandez-RF
7. Alexei Bell-CF
8. Alexander Malleta-1B
9. Yosvany Alarcón-C
The only change from the Cubans came in the eighth inning with the entry of Yordan Manduley replacing shortstop Dainer Moreira.
Cuba will play Monday at 7:00 pm against Mexico at the same stadium.