HAVANA TIMES — Up 4-0 with their top starter, Yoanni Yera on the mound, Matanzas was cruising in the fifth inning when suddenly Pinar del Rio came alive, scored three times, and made for a tense second half of the contest that ended 5-3.
A packed stadium of 20,000 fans in Matanzas saw the home team score one in the first on a homer from Ariel Sanches, two in the second on RBIs from Raul Gonzalez and Lazaro Heredia and another run in the fourth on a double from Yariel Duque and an RBI roller to short from Raul Gonzalez, to take the early lead.
The four runs came off Pinar’s star pitcher Yosvani Torres who took the loss. Torres who has compiled a 17-4 record over the season, then settled down only allowing only one hit in the fifth through seventh innings before exiting in the eighth. Reliever Yormari Socarrás allowed a runner left by Torres to score on a liner to the mound from Heredia ending the game’s scoring at 5-3.
Pinar’s big fifth inning against the previously dominating Yera included a double from William Saavedra and RBI hit by Lorenzo Quintana, followed by a towering double by Yosvany Peraza that almost left the park moving Quintana to third. A roller to short from Osniel Madera brought in the second Pinar run and David Castillo doubled to center to bring his team within one run.
Felix Fuentes came on in the ninth to get the save for Matanzas, his third of the playoffs, however it wasn’t all that easy. Pinar managed to put runners on first and third with two out before Fuentes got Osniel Madera to fly out to right in foul territory.
Fuentes has now pitched 6.1 scoreless relief innings in the playoffs.
Game two of the best-of-seven series is tonight at 7:15 p.m. Cuba time (EDT) once again in Matanzas. Game three will be on Thursday in Pinar del Rio after a travel day on Wednesday.