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LEBC 2024 Finals | Arruebarrena hit a crucial homer in the 7th inning and Matanzas beat Artemisa 8-4 in Game 3. Take a 2-1 lead in the 2024 Elite League Finals

Updated: Jan 20

Game 4 of the series will be played Saturday afternoon


A crucial home run by Erisbel Arruebarrena decided the game. (Photo by Ricardo López Hevia)

Finals of the II Elite League of Cuban Baseball


Game 3: Matanzas 8, Artemisa 4

Matanzas leads the series 2-1


The Matanzas Crocodiles are now just two games away from winning the first Elite League in history after a 3-1 Game 3 victory over the Artemisa Hunters at the 26 de Julio Stadium in Artemisa Friday afternoon.


Erisbel Arruebarrena hit a solo home run in the seventh inning to give the Crocodiles a 5-4 lead that they never relinquished.


Matanzas' starter Yadián Martínez was also key in the victory.



In the bottom of the second inning, Artemisa scored three runs against starter Yadián Martínez. The Hunters' consistent offense made itself felt in that inning with five consecutive hits. They were Dennis Laza, Raúl González, José Jiménez, Carlos de la Tejera, and Osbel Pacheco, the last two each with one RBI. Eventually, Martínez stopped the attack, retiring the next three batters. However, not before accepting a ground ball by Yoán Moreno to third base that allowed Jiménez to score.


Albert Valladares, who recorded the second-most victories for Mayabeque in the last 62 National Series with 5, had no issues during the first two innings. He retired six of the eight batters he faced. He walked and allowed a single in the second inning but dominated the offensively slumping Andrys Pérez. After leading by three runs, he allowed Matanzas' first run in the third inning.


It was an inning that could have been more productive for Matanzas. Following a single by Manduley, a forced out on Ariel Sánchez's hit, and a wild pitch, Yurisbel Gracial drove in the first run with a single to left. Nonetheless, Valladares was able to dominate Rusney Castillo despite hitting the next batter, Yordanis Samón. To this point in the series, the ex-Boston Red Sox player Castillo had gone 1-for-8 against Artemisa's pitchers, 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position, a walk and have been hit by a pitch once. During the regular season, Matanzas' lineup terrorized pitchers, but it needs bats like Castillo's in this championship series.


And an inning later Valladares was chased off the mound by Crocodiles’ hitters.


To begin the inning, Arruebarrena singled, and after Noroña was out, Andrys followed with a single that allowed Arruebarrena to score after a defensive error. Suddenly, the offensive power of the Matanzas arrived, when Eduardo Blanco hit a two-run home run to the left to turn the score around and put Matanzas ahead 4-3.




After 3 1/3 innings and four runs on six hits including a home run, Valladares was done. In the game, he walked and struck out one.


After Artemisa’s reliever Diorvis Navarro entered the game in the fourth inning, he worked through the fifth unscathed.


As the game entered the bottom of the fifth, centerfielder Yoán Moreno led the inning smashing a fastball from Martínez over the left field wall. This tied the game at 4-4.


Both teams had opportunities in the sixth.


Navarro was removed from the mound by Matanzas in that inning after Blanco singled and Manduley doubled. However, reliever Israel Sánchez got the second out on a grounder to second base from Sánchez. With first base open, Gracial was intentionally walked. The strategy worked when Samón hit a fly ball to center field for the third out.


For Artemisa, with Martínez still on the mound and two outs, Pacheco singled to right and Andy Cosme hit a double to the deep right field corner. However, a relief throw from Ariel Sánchez to Yordan Manduley threw Pacheco out at the plate, keeping the score intact. To be honest, Pacheco had no chance to score.



For his work, Yadián Martínez took the win. (Photo by Ricardo López Hevia)

It was Yadián Martínez's last inning. After being acquired by Matanzas as reinforcements before the finals, the right-hander had a quality outing in Game 3. Martínez pitched six solid innings, allowing four runs on seven hits, and only had one ineffective inning, the second, where at least one run could have been prevented. Within an inning, Martínez was in line to clinch a crucial victory.


In the top of the seventh inning, Matanzas responded immediately. With Rusney Castillo striking out, Erisbel Arruebarrena homered deep to center, putting Yadián in a position to win Game 3.


Three important runs would extend Matanzas' lead in the eighth. After an error and a walk, Gracial drove in two with a double that took reliever Sánchez out of the game. When Osdany Rodríguez came in relief, he walked three consecutive batters, forcing the third run. Matanzas was leading 8-4.


After Yadián Martínez's exit, Frank L. Medina took over. He faced 10 batters and allowed only two hits in 2 2/3 innings of scoreless baseball for the hold. Closing out the victory in the ninth, with two outs, was closer Armando Dueñas.

 

Game 4 will take place this Saturday at 1:30 pm. For Matanzas, César García will start, and for Artemisa, Erly Casanova.




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