By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, May 4 – There were no surprises during the last week of play in relation to Cuban baseball playoff slots, with teams like Industriales, Matanzas and Guantanamo fading into the sunset.
It’s now down to the final eight with the playoffs beginning in the Western Division on Wednesday and in the East the following day.
In the West, the best-of-seven quarter finals begin on Wednesday with leader La Habana playing the Isle of Youth and Pinar del Rio facing Sancti Spiritus.
On Thursday in the East, Ciego de Avila plays Holguin and defending champion Santiago de Cuba goes up against Villa Clara.
PLAYOFF TEAM STATS:
|Ciego de Avila||.327||3.98||977|
|Santiago de Cuba||.320||4.92||977|
|Pinar del Rio||.294||4.03||975|
|Isla de la Juventud||.288||5.39||973|
Michel Enriquez Edges Yulieski Gourriel for Batting Title
Two star third basemen battled down to their last at-bats for the 2008-2009 baseball league batting title. Starting the final day of play in a tie, Michel Enriquez went 3-for-3 Sunday for Isla de la Juventud to finish at .401. Yulieski Gourriel, of Sancti Spiritus, matched that perfect day in his first three at-bats against Matanzas, but failed in his final chance, to close the season at .399.
Yorelvis Charles of Ciego de Avila finished third with a .387 average followed by Giorvis Duvergel (Guantanamo) with .386; Leslie Anderson (Camaguey) at .381; Yoilan Cerce (Guantanamo) tied for sixth with Alfredo Despaigne (Granma) at .375; Yariel Duque (Matanazas) and Henry Urrutia (Las Tunas) finished at .365, followed by Yunier Mendoza (Sancti Spiritus) and Yoandry Garlobo (Matanzas) at .364.
Alfredo Despaigne broke the Cuban baseball single-season home record with 32, one more than Alexei Bell who set the mark last season for Santiago de Cuba. Despaigne, playing for last place Granma also had the most RBIs with 97.
Yadier Pedroso Tops Pitchers
La Habana’s Yadier Pedroso (9-3) won the season’s pitching title with an excellent 1.91 ERA. Pinar del Rio’s Yunieski Maya, who led during part of the home stretch, ended up with a 13-4 record and a second place 2.22 ERA.
Eastern Division winner Ciego de Avila had both the third and fourth best pitchers in Alfredo Unzue (8-3, 2.54) and Maikel Folch (11-4, 2.69). In fifth place was Wilber Perez who lifted his team, Isla de la Juventud, into the playoffs (12-4, 2.74). Pedro Luis Lazo finished the year with a 9-2 record and a 2.79 ERA for Pinar del Rio followed by Miguel A. Gonzalez (8-4, 2.86) for Habana and his teammate Yulieski Gonzalez (9-4, 3.04). Norge Luis Vera finished ninth (11-5, 3.08) followed by Freddy A. Alvarez (Villa Clara) who was 7-2 with a 3.40 ERA.
Vladimir Garcia played a big role in Ciego de Avila’s first place finish in the Eastern Division notching a league leading 25 saves, tying the record of Orestes Gonzalez.
Final Standings of 2008-2009 Regular Cuban Baseball Season
|Teams (Western Division)||W||L||Pct||GB|
|Pinar del Rio*||54||36||.600||3.0|
|Isla de la Juventud*||43||47||.478||14.0|
|Teams (Eastern Division)||W||L||Pct||GB|
|Ciego de Avila*||64||26||.711||—|
|Santiago de Cuba*||57||33||.633||7.0|
*Clinched playoff berth