By Ray Otero | BaseballdeCuba Founder
By Ray Otero | BaseballdeCuba Founder
The 2018-19 Cuban Baseball National Series (BNS) will get underway on Thursday, August 9. It will feature the game between the Granma Stallions and Las Tunas Woodcutters at Mártires de Barbados Stadium in Granma at 7:00 pm (ET).
The season will remain with no changes from the previous one with all 16 teams in action, but it will be the second time in history that the regular season will begin on a Thursday.
Back in October 19, 1987, the 27th National Series was the first Cuban Season inaugurated in a Thursday.
The qualification system for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics has been unveiled during the World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Executive Committee meeting in Paris.
Just six teams will participate in the Olympic tournament and the WBSC is planning a round-robin format but they could not confirmed.
The host, Japan, is already qualified for the tournament.
The Cuban Baseball Federation released the 2018 Special Series calendar on Wednesday, less than 24 hours before the inaugural game, today at 7:15 pm at Guillermón Moncada Stadium in Santiago de Cuba.
The calendar features 24 matches between the three teams involved in the tournament, Occidentales, Centrales and Orientales.
The opening game will feature Orientales playing Occidentales, and a day later Centrales will make its debut facing Orientales at Nguyen van Troi Stadium in Guantánamo.
Cuba has announced its roster for the Caribbean Series, which begins on Feb. 2 in the city of Jalisco in Mexico.
The team is technically Granma, the Cuban National Series champion, but it is reinforced with players from other Cuban clubs.
The roster includes two catchers, ten infielders, four outfielders, and 11 pitchers.
The best player of the team is outfielder Alfredo Despaigne. He has been playing in Japan for the last four seasons and last year, playing for the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, led the Pacific League in homeruns with 35.
The Stallions are now just one win away from the Cuban title, despite trailing this series 2-0 at one point.
Granma came away with a 11-5 win in Game 5 of the Cuban Finals, taking a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series. They are now one win away from their second Cuban title.
With the Stallions down 2-0 in the series to the Woodcutters, Alain Sánchez y Raidel Martínez were key, helping them win Game 3, 10-6, and start their three-game winning streak to shock the second best team during the regular-season.
Rafael Viñales homered, Las Tunas scored 11 runs and Alejandro Meneses threw an excellent relief as host Las Tunas beat the Granma Stallions, 11-4, in Game 2 of the 2018 Cuban Finals.
With the series moving to Granma, Game 3 will be played at Mártires de Barbados Stadium on Tuesday at 7:15 pm.
The roars began on the first pitch thrown by Luis A. Gómez in Game 7 of the Cuban Semifinals Series, and they didn't stop. Solo homer by Yosvany Alarcón and a two-run shot by Rafael Viñales, both in the fifth inning, sent the Julio A. Mella stadium into a frenzy.
The party was just getting started.
Las Tunas’s closer José A. García pitched two shutout innings and Rafael Viñales drove in the decisive run in the eighth during a 6-3 victory over the industrials Lions on Tuesday night that extended the Cuban Semifinals Series to a decisive Game 7.
Game 7 is Wednesday night in Las Tunas, with the winner advancing to the Cuban Finals against the 2017 champion Granma Stallions.
The Industriales Lions didn't need any more late-inning dramatics.
They scored early and late this time, and Erlys Casanova did the rest to put the Lions one step closer of the Cuban National Series Finals.
Casanova had just held the Woodcutters to two runs and three hits in Industriales’s 4-2 victory on Saturday night in Game 5 of the Cuban Semifinals in front of 42,639 at Latinoamericano Stadium in Havana.