Game One: Havana 4 Villa Clara 3

By Circles Robinson

 Havana DH Rafael Orta drove in the winning run with a full-count single in the bottom of the ninth. Photo: jit.cu
Havana DH Rafael Orta drove in the winning run with a full-count single in the bottom of the ninth. Photo: jit.cu

HAVANA TIMES, May 30 — It wasn’t easy, but Havana Province pleased their home crowd on Saturday with a 4-3 walk-off win over Villa Clara in game one of the Cuban Baseball League championship series.

Yulieski Gonzalez held Villa Clara hitless over six innings and cruised into the eighth with a one hitter and a 3-0 lead.

Then rookie Ramon Lunar opened the top of the inning with a homer followed by a triple from catcher Yulexis La Rosa and an RBI single from pinch hitter Yandy Canto. In a blink of an eye the score was 3-2. The inning then ended with a double play.

Havana had taken the lead with two unearned runs in the fourth sparked by a costly error from La Rosa on a foul fly and later a solo homer from Juan Carlos Linares in the sixth.

In the top of the ninth Havana’s star reliever Jose A. Garcia came on to try and preserve a one run lead. However, he ran into trouble giving up a double to Andy Zamora followed by a passed ball and a sacrifice fly from Ariel Borrero to tie the score and take away Yulieski Gonzalez’ chance at a win.

Havana southpaw Yulieski Gonzalez pitched no-hit ball for the first six innings. Photo: Juventud Rebelde Newspaper
Havana southpaw Yulieski Gonzalez pitched no-hit ball for the first six innings. Photo: Juventud Rebelde Newspaper

Then, with one out in the bottom of the ninth and with Villa Clara’s top reliever, Yolexis Ulacia, on the mound, lead off hitter Ruby Silva legged out a bloop double followed by a long fly from Denis Laza allowing Silva to advance to third with two out.

After Ulacia intentionally walked Ernesto Molinet, he quickly got a two-strike no-ball count on DH Rafael Orta. But the count went to 3-2 after a controversial call on the 2-2 pitch that Villa Clara manager Eduardo Martin thought was an inning-ending strike. Orta then singled in the winning run.

Villa Clara starter Freddy A. Alvarez, who already has four wins in the playoffs, didn’t pitch bad but the two-run error by La Rosa led to his being pulled in the top of the fifth with two runners on, after allowing only four hits and a walk while striking out three.

Yasmani Hernandez came on and pitched his way out of a bases loaded jam in the fifth, fielding a roller to the mound and starting a double play from pitcher to catcher to first. His only gaff in four innings of relief was Linares solo shot in the sixth.

Game two of the best-of-seven championship series is set for Sunday at 2:00 p.m. at the San Jose de las Lajas Stadium on the outskirts of the Cuban capital. The probable starters are right-handers Yadier Pedroso for Havana and Alain Sanchez for Villa Clara.

To see the game one box score click on: http://www.granma.cubaweb.cu/eventos/48serie/playoff/final/bf-1.html



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