HAVANA TIMES — A few days ago Havana’s favorite team, Industriales, appeared cruising towards the Cuban Baseball League finals, up three games to one over rival Pinar del Rio.
But after Friday night things have changed considerably, and with Pinar’s convincing 7-1 victory, the two squads are now tied 3-3 and play the decisive seventh game today in Pinar del Rio.
Before a packed home town stadium, winning pitcher Julio A. Martinez pitched a tremendous relief performance allowing only one hit and no runs in 6.2 innings (he did walk seven batters and struck out three). Martinez came on with only one out in the first inning after ineffective starter Vladimir Baños gave up a run on three hits from the four batters he faced before Manager Urquiola wanted no more.
Martinez had also recorded a save on Wednesday in game five of the seven game series.
A big factor in the win was the inability of Industriales to come up with the big hit with runners on base, leaving a total of 12 stranded during the game, at least one per inning except in the fourth.
Pinar pounded out 14 hits to 5 by Industriales who had taken the lead 1-0 in the first inning and held it until the sixth when Pinar scored three. This was followed by three more in the seventh and one in the eighth to complete the scoreboard.
The winners were led by Donal Duarte and William Saavedra who drove in three runs each, including a homer by Saavedra, Giorvis Duvergel who had three hits and scored twice and Alejandro Castillo 4-for-4 with two runs scored.
Industriales starter Frank Montieh pitched well for five innings allowing only four hits and striking out eight before giving way to a host of six inefective relievers who turned his gem into an embarrassing loss accredited to Julio Montesino.
While the pitchers for today’s game seven are not official, Industriales is expected to use either veteran Vicyohandry Odelin or Noelvis Entenza. Pinar del Rio may go with Erlis Casanova and both teams are expected to make full use of their bullpens in the effort to reach the finals.
Game time is 4:15 local time. (EDT) at the San Luis Stadium in Pinar del Rio.
Meanwhile Matanzas, which had an easy time defeating defending champion Villa Clara, 4-1, in their semifinal match up, is waiting in the wings to host game one of the final series set for Monday April 7 at 7:15 p.m.