Industriales became the fourth team to earn a playoff seat on Sunday joining Pinar del Rio, Sancti Spiritus and Santiago de Cuba. Meanwhile, Villa Clara and Camaguey swept their rivals Granma and Guantanamo, moving closer to being included in postseason play.
Last yearu2;019s defending champions, Industriales, needed 12 innings to beat the Isla de la Juventud on a hit by Alden Mesa with Enrique Diaz on third after a hit, sacrifice and stolen base. Frank Montieth (6-4) went 5.2 innings in relief allowing one unearned run in the ninth that tied the game and striking out seven.
Villa Clara, the Group C leaders, won 2-1 over Granma, who were virtually eliminated from the playoffs. Yulexis La Rosa singled to left to bring in the game-ending winning run in the bottom of the ninth. Yolexis Ulacia (8-7) got the win, pitching the final 3.2 innings without giving up a run.
Camaguey took advantage of a Las Tunas loss to Santiago and completed a series sweep over Guantanamo 12-4 to move into second place in the hotly contested Group C. Leslie Anderson led the attack with a three-run homer and two runs scored.
Las Tunas fell to third after being blown out by Santiago 18-5 in a game called after seven innings on the mercy rule. Ronnier Mustelier hit his 12th homer and Rolando Merino drove in four runs on a double and his 10th home run of the year for Santiago.
Ciego Avila stayed alive in the cellar of Group C defeating Holguin 8-1 with a good pitching performance from lefthander Maikel Folch (8-4) who went seven innings. Isaac Martinez drove in three runs on three hits and is among the league leaders with a .382 average in 219 at-bats.
Pinar del Rio won its 53rd game in the 90-game regular season 6-1 over Habana on the six strikeout pitching of relievers Yosvani Torres and Yunieski Maya in 3.2 innings and homerun number 17 from Yosvani Peraza.
The surprise on Sunday came from Matanzas who, playing at home, shut out Group B leader Sancti Spiritus 1-0. Metropolitanos scored five in the eighth and one in the ninth to win 6-5 over Cienfuegos on homeruns by Juan Carlos Torriente y Jairon Larrinaga.
Industriales plays on the road against Las Tunas Monday afternoon to make up a game called due to rain earlier in the season. The rest of the league resumes play on Tuesday. Two 3-game series remain before the playoffs begin.
Divided into two divisions - the West (Groups A and B) and the East (Groups C and D - eight teams will make the first round of the playoffs. Group leaders automatically earn a ticket as well as the teams in each division with the third and fourth best records.
Cuban Baseball League Standings
(Including games of Sunday, March 18th)
Wins Losses Pct. Games out
Pinar del Rio 53 31 631 x
Isla de la Juventud 40 44 476 13.0
Metropolitanos 27 57 321 26.0
Matanzas 22 62 262 31.0
Sancti Spiritus 49 35 583 x
Industriales 48 35 578 0.5
Habana 45 39 536 4.0
Cienfuegos 39 45 464 10.0
Villa Clara 49 35 583 x
Camaguey 47 37 560 2.0
Las Tunas 46 37 554 2.5
Ciego de Avila 45 39 536 4.0
Santiago de Cuba 52 32 619 x
Granma 41 43 488 11.0
Holguin 38 46 452 14.0
Guantanamo 30 54 357 22.0