By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, May 20 — Habana defeated Pinar del Rio and its towering veteran Pedro Luis Lazo 7-4 on Tuesday to even Cuba’s best-of-seven Western Division Championship series at one game each.
Lazo, 35, allowed four runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings, striking out two and walking one. Irandy Castro came on to relieve him in the fifth and in a brief 0.2 innings gave up another two runs on three hits.
Playing catch up, Pinar del Rio scored four times in the final four innings but fell short. Habana starter Miguel Angel Gonzalez picked up the win, going 5.2 innings allowing only one run on five hits, while striking out four and walking two. Jonder Martinez, a starter during the season, finished up with 3.1 innings of only mediocre relief allowing three runs on five hits.
Pinar edged closer with a two-run rally in the ninth that ended after miserable base running from Jorge Padron.
The only home run in the game was a solo shot in the seventh by Pinar del Rio’s DH William Otaño. Habana DH Michel Rodriguez led his team with three hits, including a double, and three RBIs. Dennis Laza (LF) also had two timely RBIs for Habana in the sixth. Short Stop David Castillo knocked in two runs for Pinar del Rio.
Villa Clara over Ciego in Extra Innings
The game between Villa Clara and Ciego de Avila was a low-scoring duel that busted open in the 11th inning when the visitors scored five times to win 8-3 and take a two-to-zero start in the Eastern Division championship series.
Two of the leagues top relievers Yolexis Ulacia (Villa Clara) and Vladimir Garcia (Ciego de Avila) were on the scene for the final innings and Ulacia proved the most durable going 4.1 innings of two-hit scoreless ball to get the win. Garcia lost his effectiveness in the 11th, allowing four of the final Villa Clara runs. The other was charged to Jorge Longa.
Villa Clara’s clean-up hitter Ariel Borrero (1B) had three hits including a solo homer off Garcia to start the 11th, and Leonys Martin (2B) led his team with two hits and three RBIs. For Ciego de Avila, DH Isaac Martinez had two hits and an RBI.
Wednesday is a traveling day for all four semifinal teams. Play resumes on Thursday in Pinar del Rio and in Villa Clara.