By SIGFREDO BARROS | Peridico26.cu
Playing before a frenzied home crowd, Santiago de Cuba took advantage of 11 walks by 5 Industriales pitchers to win 8-2 on Wednesday and take the Cuban Baseball Championship series four games to two.
The spectacular 7.2 inning relief job by Alberto Bicet and the bat of Jose Julio Ruiz lifted Santiago to their much savored victory.
The Guillermon Moncada Stadium couldnu2;019t have fit another fan, even in its jammed-packed aisles. Santiago manager Antonio Pacheco had the mission to finish off Industriales after taking a 3-2 series lead on Monday in Havana. It was a tense game with Industriales jumping off to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning.
Industriales got on the scoreboard early thanks to control problems from left-handed Santiago starter Albert Carrion who gave up two walks and a hit to the first three batters. He only lasted 11 pitches before Alberto Bicet was brought in with the bases loaded, nobody out and dangerous cleanup hitter Alexander Mayeta at the plate. Bicet did pretty well to only give up two runs, one on a sacrifice fly to Mayeta and another off a hit by Rudy Reyes.
Santiago didnu2;019t wait long to respond off right hander Deinys Suarez who used a fastball, slider, forkball and curve. The first run came in the second inning off a couple walks, a pop up that fell in short right as Mayeta and Rudy Reyes nearly collided and then an infield hit by Ronnier Mustelier to make the score 2-1. In the third, Jose Julio Ruiz blasted a Suarez pitch over the right field wall to bring the score even at two runs each. It was the fifth homer for Ruiz during the playoffs.
However, it was in the fifth inning when the deciding runs would be scored to the delight of fans, many of whom had showed up several hours before game time to get a seat to enjoy the festivities livened throughout by the San Agustin conga drummers. Before leaving with 91 pitches (52 strikes) Suarez gave up two walks to Jose Julio and Rolando Merino and a wild pitch.
Anglada brought in his ace Yadel Marti, who retired Pedro Poll and Luis Navas, intentionally walked Bell but allowed Reutilio Hurtado to bat his tenth double of the playoffs, a record.
The following inning Santiago added another to take a three-run lead. Mustelier had an infield hit to short, Olivera sacrificed and Rey Anglada had Marti intentionally walk the dangerous Jose Julio Ruiz. But Marti walked Merino to load the bases and Poll knocked in Mustelier with a liner to left. Odrisamer Despaigne was then brought in for Industriales.
In the eighth, the entire stadium stood to congratulate Alberto Bicet when he was pulled after reaching the 100-pitch limit. In all, the winning pitcher went 7.2 innings allowing six hits, no runs and walking two batters. He had also won game two of the series on 4.2 innings of one-run relief.
Santiago put the game out of reach in the bottom of the eighth with a double by Jose Julio knocking in the first of a three-run rally. “The Lion (Industriales) has died,” shouted the fans, “Santiago is the new champion.”
As soon as the game ended, a spectacular fireworks show began while the players of both teams congratulated each other. The delirious fans and the national TV audience u2;014all playoff games were televisedu2;014 bid farewell to an exciting season.
Misael Enamorado, first secretary of the Communist Party for Santiago de Cuba, and Christian Jimenez, president of the Cuban National Institute of Sports, Physical Education and Recreation (INDER) presented the new champions with their awards. Prizes were also made to Industriales and Villa Clara, the second and third place finishers.