By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, May 13 —Ciego de Avila has made it for the first time into the semifinals of a Cuban Baseball League playoffs by sweeping Holugin four games to none and defeating the top Cuban lefthander for the second time in a week.
Aroldis Chapman was the island’s southpaw starter in the 2nd World Baseball Classic, but that doesn’t mean the local boys were going to be intimidated by his 100 MPH fastball.
After losing to Ciego’s Maikel Folch, also a southpaw, 2-1 in the opening game of the seven game series, on Tuesday it was a rematch and once again Folch came out on top 5-3.
The two star pitchers had control problems early on with both walking five batters. Folch gave up three runs on seven hits while striking out six in 7.0 innings. Chapman allowed four runs on six hits and struck out four in 6.0 innings. Alein Mora saved the game with two innings of scoreless ball.
Yorelvis Fiss (CF) produced the game deciding fire power for Ciego with two hits in two official at-bats, including a three-run homer in the third inning that put his team ahead to stay. Yunior Paumier (3B) homered for Holguin in the first inning and had two RBIs.
Ciego de Avila managed its league leading 68th win of the season after going 64-26 during the regular 90 games of play.
Villa Clara Puts Santiago on the Ropes
After blowing a 2-0 series lead with Santiago de Cuba, Villa Clara came back to life on Tuesday and put the defending champions against the ropes as play returns to Santiago with the visitors up three games to two in the best of seven series.
Santiago took a 1-0 lead in the first inning but by the fourth they were down 12-1 en route to the 13-1 loss called on the ten-run mercy rule after seven innings.
Villa Clara pitching dominated throughout holding the powerful Santiago lineup hitless through six innings and on two hits for the game.
Winning pitcher Freddy A. Alvarez went five innings of no-hit, three walk and two strike out ball, allowing Santiago’s only run on a sacrifice. Misael Sibrerio came on in relief allowing Santiago’s only two hits in 1.2 scoreless innings. Yolexis Ulacia was called in to get the final out.
For Santiago, losing pitcher Reinier Roibal gave up four runs on five hits in 2.0 innings followed by Alberto Carrion who also give up four in 1.1 innings. The following three relievers, Osmani Tamayo, Osmel Cintra and Alain Dela all gave up additional runs.
DH Ariel Pestano led Villa Clara in the rout with three hits in four at bats including a triple, home run and five RBIs. Andy Zamora (RF) had two hits and scored twice while knocking in three runs to add to the embarrassing Santiago loss.
The teams will play game six of their series on Thursday at Santiago’s Guillermon Moncada Stadium. The probable starters are Alain Sanchez for Villa Clara and Danny Betancourt for the home team.
Western Division Decided
The Western Division quarterfinals of the Cuban Baseball League ended over the weekend with Pinar del Rio and Habana each winning their series 4-1 over Sancti Spiritus and Isla de la Juventud respectively.