HAVANA TIMES — After two decades that seemed like an eternity, Villa Clara finally achieved the coveted title and is champion of the Cuban baseball league for the fifth time. They defeated Matanazas 8-5 on Tuesday and took the best-of-seven series four games to one.
It was Ariel Pestano – excluded from team Cuba in WBC III – who sealed the victory with a grand slam in the sixth inning off reliever Maikel Martínez, to put what had been a close game at 7-2.
Once again the VC catcher proved his fame as a man of great moments as in the 1993-1994 season when between him and Michel Perdomo produced the decisive runs to give his team the national title.
Who does not remember his extraordinary performance at the Athens Olympics 2004 or key homer against the United States in the 2003 Pan American Games?
The fatal inning for Matanzas began with a hit from Edilse Silva. Then Yasiel Santoya committed a fielding error committed allowing Ariel Borrero to reach first. Then came the sacrifice bunt from Yeniet Perez advancing the runners to second and third. Here Victor Mesa pulled starter Joel Suarez.
Felix Fuentes came on and hit his first batter, Dayron Varona. Danel Castro followed with an RBI single breaking the two-two tie. Victor Mesa didn’t hesitate to bring in Maykel Martinez to face Pestano and the rest is history.
The Matanzas Crocodiles narrowed the lead in the 8th with a three-run rally off reliever Jonder Martinez who had replaced starter Misael Siverio in the fifth. In the bottom of the inning Andy Sarduy hit a solo blast for the game’s final run.
This time it did not happen as in 2010 when Villa Clara lost to Industriales. The fourth winningest team in Cuban baseball history (after Industriales 12, Santiago de Cuba 8 and Pinar del Rio 6) did not let the series return to Matanzas and was finally able to celebrate their fifth crown. Along with the success and they made a reservation for the 2014 Caribbean Series as Cuba returns to the regional event.
(*) Read all of Ray Otero’s reports at Baseballdecuba.com.