Cuba Takes Opener vs. Nicaragua

HAVANA TIMES — The Cuban national baseball team, playing a 5-game exhibition series in Nicaragua, took the opener on Saturday in a hard fought 2-1 win characterized by good pitching from both sides.

The Cubans are in the Central American country to help their team ready for a World Baseball Classic qualifying event later this summer.  The Cubans are already guaranteed a ticket to the WBC to be played in March 2013.

The first game of the series took place in Managua, the capital, with Nicaragua’s Alvaro López and Cuba’s Dalier Hinojosa locking in a 0-0 duel before giving way to a series of relievers. Yander Guevara a star of the recently concluded Cuban baseball league championship picked up the win by nailing down the final seven outs.

Nicaragua scored first with an RBI double by Jilton Calderón in the bottom of the seventh.  However the lead didn’t last long as Cuba roared back with two runs in the top of the eighth on a triple from outfielder Rusney Castillo.

The second game of the series, scheduled for Sunday, was rained out.  The two teams will offer a replay today at 9:00 a.m. in Matagalpa.