HAVANA TIMES — Down 8-5 going in to the bottom of the ninth inning Pinar del Rio was looking at the discomforting prospect of going back to Matanzas down three games to two in their championship Cuban baseball series. Then the tables turned, reported Baseballdecuba.com.
Roel Santos started off the inning for Pinar with a single up the middle off starter tuned reliever Yoanni Yera. David Castillo, who is having an excellent playoff season, followed with another hit to left. Donald Duarte then walked to load the bases. With Yera still on the mound William Saavedra, the series home run leader with six, rolled to short with Santos scoring to make it 8-6, while Duarte was forced out at second.
Matanzas manager Victor Mesa brought in Yolekis Cruz to try and put out the fire. However he couldn’t find the strike zone and walked Raidel Hernandez to load the bases again. Mesa didn’t hesitate to yank Cruz and brought in lefty Frank San Martin, who also had control problems, the worst thing that can happen to a relief pitcher, and he promptly walked pinch hitter Lazaro Blanco to bring in the seventh Pinar run.
Out came San Martin and in came Alexander Bustamante who allowed Osniel Madera to hit a fly ball to left which allowed Saavedra to tag and score from third. That was all for Pinar and with the game now tied 8-8 it meant extra innings.
On the mound for his second relief inning Pinar’s Yaifredo Dominguez got into a bit of jam in the top of the tenth. After a single from Jose M. Fernandez and one out, the dangerous Yadiel Hernandez, the team’s leading home run hitter stepped into the batter’s box. But Mesa made what proved a mistaken strategy by sending Fernandez to steal second allowing Pinar to respond by intentionally walking Hernandez. The following hitter, Yasiel Santoya flied to right and Jose Columbie struck out to end the inning.
After Pinar was held scoreless in the bottom of the 10th Dominguez, who proved the winning pitcher, had little problem in the Matanzas top of inning 11, allowing only a single to Julio C. Gonzalez.
His relief performance included three innings pitched, two hits allowing no runs with two strikeouts and a single walk.
In the bottom of the 11th and the score still tied 8-8 with one out, Osniel Madera, who had tied the game in the ninth with his sacrifice fly, laced a solo homer to left, which he was able to enjoy seated on home plate, as he fell after his big swing, noted baseballdecuba.com.
Monday is a travel day as the series now returns to Matanzas for Game Six and a possible Seven. Game time on Tuesday is 7:15 p.m.
While neither team has announced their starting pitcher, Pinar manager Urquiola is expected to send his righty Vladimir Baños to the mound, while Victor Mesa will choose between several available hurlers.