HAVANA TIMES — Cuba, the defending champions, will face Mexico in the semifinals of the Caribbean Series baseball tournament on Saturday evening after eliminating the host Dominican Republic by a score of 4-2 in 11 innings on Friday, reported dpa news.
With their only victory in the five-team tournament, Cuba, represented by the Ciego de Avila Tigers, finished in fourth place earning a clash against the undefeated leader, Mexico’s Venados de Mazatlan.
Venezuela, second in the standings with three wins and one loss, will face off in the first semifinal game on Saturday against the Puerto Rican team that finished third with a 2-2 record.
How the Cubans reached the semifinals
Jose Adolis García drove in two runs with two outs in the top of the eleventh episode, to give Cuba the last ticket to the semifinals. Cuba had tied the game 2-2 in the top of the ninth on a pinch-hit triple by Stayler Hernandez and a sacrifice fly by Yuliesky Gourriel.
Thus the defending champion eliminated the winless the DR, hosts of the Caribbean Series.
The win went to relief pitcher Miguel Lahera (1-0), who pitched 4.2 spectacular scoreless innings allowing only 1 hit and 2 walks while striking out three Dominicans.
After Lahera issued a walk to start the bottom of the 11th, and his first replacement Yennier Cano hit a batter, Jose A. Garcia came on with two on and nobody out and finished off the job to pick up the save.
Reliever Fernando Rodney was the losing pitcher allowing two runs on two hits in two-thirds of an inning.
In the first game on Friday, the Venados of Mazatlan of Mexico, already qualified for the semifinals, remained undefeated with an 8-4 win over Puerto Rico.
A tug two-run double by Cyle Hankerd to deep center opened the way to a six run rally in the eighth inning, which allowed Mexico to break a 2-2 tie and take the lead.
“Those four games we won no longer matter. The most important contest is tomorrow (Saturday) because whoever loses will be out,” said Mexico manager Juan Jose Pacho.
Asked about his Cuban opponents in the semifinals, Pacho said: “I do not care. What you need to do is win and both teams are strong.”
Each year the Caribbean Series brings together the champions of the Caribbean Confederation of Professional Baseball (Cuba, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Puerto Rico and Mexico). Cuba had been absent for a half century returning for the first in 2014 when it did not make the semifinals. Last year it became the champions with a dramatic 3-2 win over Mexico in the finals.
On Saturday Puerto Rico plays Venezuela at 2:50 p.m. Cuban time and Cuba faces Mexico at 6:50 p.m. The games can be watched live at this link: http://streaming.beisboldelcaribe.com/
Qualifying Round Final Standings
|1||Venados de Mazatlán||4||4||0||1.000||–||26||13||+13|
|2||Tigres de Aragua||4||3||1||.750||1||17||15||+2|
|3||Cangrejeros de Santurce||4||2||2||.500||2||19||12||+7|
|4||Tigres de Ciego de Ávila||4||1||3||.250||3||9||26||-17|
|5||Leones del Escogido||4||0||4||.000||4||12||17||-5|