By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, March 18 — Industriales is back and although they won’t be the favorites to win this year’s Cuba baseball championship series against Villa Clara nobody is counting them out.
The Lions had fans in the capital ecstatic on Wednesday and for good reason. After a lackluster regular season Industriales defeated Cienfuegos four games to one in the quarterfinal playoffs and then pushed aside last year’s league champs, Havana Province in six games to take the Western Division title.
The game that put Industriales in the finals took place at Havana Province stadium in San Jose de las Lajas under a persistent light rain. Both teams had several scoring opportunities in the game won 3-1 by Industriales.
Centerfielder Carlos Tabares (4-for-5) knocked in a run and scored two while DH Yoandri Urgelles drove in the other two runs for the winners.
Industriales starter Ian Rendon went five innings allowing only an unearned run but had to pitch out of several jams to get the win. Armando Rivero gave up only two hits in turning in a stellar four innings of relief.
For Havana, loser Yulieski Gonzalez got off to a rocky start with poor control and left after 2.2 innings, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. Jonder Martinez pitched the rest of the game allowing seven hits and one run in 6.1 innings.
In the Eastern Division, Villa Clara —last season’s runner up— cruised to a four games to one win over Ciego de Avila, out matching its rival in both hitting and pitching.
The date for the opening game of the championship best-of-seven series will be announced later Thursday, most likely on the nightly round table news and analysis TV program that today will be talking baseball.
In the coming days Cuba baseball expert Peter C. Bjarkman will be reviewing the two competing squads.