Granma scores first win in debut in the Baseball Champions League of the Americas
Great start by Erlis Casanova combined with a decisive double of Yordanis Samón and a great relief by Pablo A. Civil, were the key in the Cuban victory
Granma debuted this Thursday afternoon in the Baseball Champions League of the Americas, with a 3-1 victory against the Fargo Red Hawks of the American Association, in a game played at the Kukulcán Álamo stadium in Mérida, Yucatán in Mexico.
This year's tournament, sponsored by the World Baseball and Softball Organization (WBSC), features four champion teams from professional leagues in the United States, Colombia, Mexico, and Cuba.
Cuba gained a decisive advantage in the eighth inning against the third reliever for the Fargo Red Hawks, right-hander Garret Alexander. Raico Santos walked to start the inning and was then driven in by Yordanis Samón's third hit of the game, a double to left field.
A single by Yosvany Alarcón to left moved Samón to third base, and from there he scored Granma's last run with a sacrifice fly by Guille Avilés.
Granma was the first team to open the score. An RBI single by Yordanys Alarcón brought Yordanis Samón to the plate in the fourth inning. The inning started when Samón singled to left and Yosvany Alarcón was hit by a pitch moving Samón into scoring position.
The Granma team, generally dominated by the Red Hawks' first two pitchers, once again posed a serious threat in the bottom of the seventh inning against right-handed reliever Grant Gavin. With two outs, pinch-hitter Yoán Moreno and Aníbal Medina singled. However, leadoff Héctor Castillo was retired for the fourth time on a ground ball to second.
Two innings later, Roy Morales hit a solo home run to left field with two outs against Cuban right-handed starter Erlis Casanova to tie the game 1-1. Three of Fargo's seven hits came from Morales, who finished the game as the team's best hitter.
Casanova, who left the game without a decision, pitched seven strong innings with 85 pitches, 58 strikes, allowing four hits, while walking just once, and striking out six.
In his final inning of work, the Cuban starter faced one of the biggest threats when, after two outs, he gave up a single to Leobaldo Piña and walked Connor Panas. Despite this, Casanova held on to the tie by retiring Justin Wylie on a ground ball to the mound with his 85th pitch of the game.
It was again possible for the Red Hawks to take the lead against Granma's new reliever, Yanielquis Duardo in the eighth inning. Duardo hit the first batter, Sam Dexter, and allowed a single by Morales that moved Dexter to third base after one out. However, Duardo avoided any damage by forcing DH Chris Herrmann to hit a 463 double play to end the inning.
The Red Hawks were not ready to leave without a fight, as they loaded the bases against closer Juan Peñalver in the ninth inning. After making another call to his bullpen, mentor Leonardo Soto chose closer Pablo A. Civil and he didn't disappoint. After a ten pitch battle against lefty pinch hitter Dayson Croes, Civil was able to prove his status as one of the best closers on the island by inducing a 463 game ending double play, securing Granma's victory.
In the second match of the tournament, the Cubans will face Caimanes de Barranquilla from Colombia at 3:00 pm (Havana and EEUU ET), in a game where Granma's manager announced right-hander starter Raymond Figueredo.