Santiago-Villa Clara Do-or-Die
By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, May 15 — Santiago de Cuba rebounded from a trouncing on Tuesday with another of its own, defeating Villa Clara 13-2 in the sixth game of their quarterfinal playoff series. The two rivals play their tie breaker on Friday night, with the winner going on to face Ciego de Avila for the Eastern Division title.
Santiago catcher Rolando Meriño, the MVP of last year’s playoffs, and first baseman Pedro Poll, provided more than enough batting power against the first four ineffective Villa Clara pitchers including starter Alain Sanchez who got the hook after allowing three runs in the first two innings.
Batting in the clean-up position, Meriño had a perfect night going 3-for-3 including a homer, driving in five runs. Poll, batting behind him in the fifth position, went 3-for-4, also with a homer and four RBIs. For extra icing second baseman Hector Olivera and leftfielder Joaquin Carbonell also homered for Santiago.
Danny Betancourt had an easy night going five innings on four hits and two runs. He had control problems walking five while also striking out the same number of batters. Reiner Roibal, who was clobbered by Villa Clara two days earlier as the starting pitcher, was much more effective, pitching the final two innings of the game called after seven on the 10-run mercy rule, allowing two hits and no runs.
For tonight’s game, Santiago has announced Norge Luis Vera, who pitched eight scoreless innings in Villa Clara on Monday. Villa Clara will use Freddy Asiel Alvarez, who has two wins in the series allowing four earned runs in 11.1 innings.
The Western Division quarterfinals have been history for days with Habana Province and Pinar del Rio set to lock horns for that division’s title after defeating Isla de la Juventud and Sancti Spiritus by identical four games to onw.
For more insight into the Cuban Baseball Playoffs read Peter C. Bjarkman’s Playoff Diary at: http://havanatimes.org/?p=8213