Granma Wins Cuban Championship
Granma defeated the defending champion Matanzas Crocodiles 6-5 to win the Cuban championship in six games. They did it without one of their big bats Alfredo Despaigne, who is in Japan playing for the Softbank Hawks. Guillermo Garcia had the walk off hit in the bottom of the ninth to complete the comeback victory. Granma had won back to back championships in 2017 and 2018 and they can now add a third title to their list. This is also the franchise Yoennis Cespedes played on before he departed for the major leagues.
The two pitchers Noevis Entenza for Matanzas and Leandro Martinez for Granma engaged in a pitcher’s duel to start the game off. Entenza got the win in the previous game by pitching one inning of relief. Martinez got out of a bases loaded jam in the first inning and Entenza put three runners on but was aided by a double play.
The little speedster Roel Santos broke the shutout with a bunt single to lead off the third inning. He then stole second and scored on a hustle double by Raico Santos that was hit down the left field line. That’s the way it stood until the top of the sixth.
Yadil Drake started the sixth inning off by hitting a double into right center. The eruption began. A single by Jefferson Delgado and sacrifice fly to score Drake ended the day for Martinez. The Stallion bullpen could not stop the carnage. Cesar Garcia walked Elise Arruebaruena intentionally and then walked pinch hitter Juan Vazquez not so intentionally to load the bases. Eduardo Blanco lined a single in front of the left fielder Raico Santos. The ball bounced over his head and three runs scored, Blanco advancing to third on the throw home. Yadil Mujica lined a double down the first base line to end the scoring and give Matanzas a commanding 5-1 lead. It did not last.
Granma chipped away getting a run back in the bottom half, started by Guillermo Aviles double over the centerfielder’s head. Guillermo Garcia singled Aviles to third and a double play ground out allowed Aviles to score.
In the seventh the little guy Roel Santos showed he can hit pretty big by pulling a pitch way over the right field fence to up the score to 5-3. Two walks put two more runners on but Carlos Benitez grounded into a double play to end the inning. Entenza left the game after the first walk, going 6.1 innings.
Granma continued to chip away in the eighth. A walk to Guillermo Aviles and a single by Guillermo Garcia started the inning off. Garcia would finish the game 4 for 4. A bunt moved the runners up where Aviles scored on a sacrifice fly. Roel Santos drove in the tying run with a clutch two out singe to left, his third hit of the game.
Joel Suarez could not get anyone out in the ninth, walking Raico Santos and giving up a single to Carlos Benitez.
Matanzas called on Jonder Martinez to get out of the jam and allow Matanzas to live a second day. He hit Aviles to load the bases with no one out. Garcia ended the day by smashing a ball over the drawn in right fielder’s head for a walk off single. The celebration began.
(Top photo of the Granma Alazanes: Oscar Alfonso Sosa)