Playoffs 2021: Pinar del Río Vegueros sweep Sancti Spíritus Gallos to reach the semifinals
The Pinar del Río Vegueros beat the top-seeded Sancti Spíritus Gallos 9-8 in 10 innings on Sunday afternoon, to complete a three-game sweep of their Quarterfinal Series opponent.
It was a dramatic game where three times Pinar del Río put a comeback against Sancti Spíritus to take Game 3 and the Quarterfinal Series, becoming the first team of the 2021 Postseason advancing to the Semifinals.
Pinar del Río is now waiting for an unknown rival from the others Quarterfinal series.
In the bottom of the first inning, already losing 1-0, a walk to Juan C. Arencibia - who stole second -, a single by Reinaldo Lazaga that moved the runner to third, and a sacrifice fly by Lázaro Blanco allowed Pinar to tie the score at 1-1.
When Sancti Spíritus scored three runs in the top of the second inning, that included Alberto Rodríguez solo blast to center field, Lázaro Rodríguez’s triple, RBI-single of Yoandy Baguet and a fielder-choice, plus another run in the fourth by Yunier Mendoza’ RBI-single, Pinar - again - took the lead in the bottom of the inning against starter José E. Santos, putting five runs on the board. The inning included RBI-singles by Pedro L. Dueñas, Lázaro E. Blanco, and Pedro L. Rodríguez, and a two-run double by Lazaga that sent Santos to the showers. In the sixth, Yaser J. González hit a solo home run to left field off reliever Pedro Álvarez to extend Pinar’s lead 7-5.
Then it was Sancti Spíritus who trailed 7-5 entering the ninth. They put two on against closer Raidel Martínez before Frederich Cepeda two-out single to left cut the lead 7-6. Martínez added more gas to his fastball but it was not enough. In one of the most advantageous counts - 1-0 - Geisel Cepeda aggressively expanded the strike zone for a two-run double to center off Martínez to give Sancti Spíritus an 8-7 lead.
In the ninth, Vegueros was down 8-7 when closer Pedro Álvarez walked Irandi Hernández to start the inning, and Luis P. Acosta got the game to go to extras with a clutch double to center to plate Hernández and tie the game at nine.
In the bottom of the tenth and facing Yoen Socarrás, Pinar loaded the bases when – once again - Acosta hit a ground ball to short scoring the third base runner safely with the ball getting away from shortstop Daviel Gómez for a missed-catch error. It was a sad and crazy ending for Sancti Spíritus and its manager Eriel Sánchez.
Like in Game 1, neither José E. Santos nor Dariel Fernández, starters of Game 3, made it through the fifth inning. Santos allowed five runs – all earned - and five hits in 3 2/3 innings, and Fernández allowed four runs - three earned - and four hits in 1 1/3 innings. And like in Game 1, both bullpens saw action, but Pinar’s was much better and that was the key, not only for this game but also for the series.
Except for closer Raidel Martínez in the ninth, Pinar’s bullpen allowed only one run – unearned – after the second inning when Sancti Spíritus took a 4-1 lead and kicked starter Fernández off the mound.
In the tenth, Martínez knew he could not repeat the same mistakes of the ninth inning. He then closed the inning in dominating fashion, with strikeouts over pinch-hitter Yadiel Guerra and second baseman Yoandy Baguet, while retiring lead-off Rodoleisis Moreno in soft line-drive at third baseman Pedro L. Rodríguez. After the ninth inning failure, Martínez really settled down, recording the last four outs of the game, and earning the win. His second this postseason.
Per our writer and statistician Yirsandy Rodríguez, during the series Pinar scored 33 runs, had 44 hits, and 18 extra bases (14 doubles, a triple and three home runs). Pinar' slash line was .364/.447/.570. With the sweep Pinar del Río took a 4-1 lead in postseason series against Sancti Spíritus, the team also improved its winning record against the Gallos to .630 (17-10).
National Series Quarterfinals
Jan 27, Game 1: Pri 9, Ssp 7 (10 Innings)
Jan 29, Game 2: Pri 15, Sancti Spíritus 4 (7 innings-Mercy Rule)
Jan 31, Game 3: Ssp 8, Pri 9 (10 Innings)
Pinar del Río won the series 3-0
(Top photo of Pinar del Río: Modesto Gutiérrez, Photo of Raidel Martínez: Modesto Gutiérrez)