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LEBC 2024 Postseason | Matanzas hit five homers in 10-5 victory over Las Tunas in Game 5 to take a 3-2 lead in the semifinals

Game 6 is scheduled for Saturday at Victoria de Girón Stadium in Matanzas

Two home runs by Yordanis Samón contributed to the victory. (Photo: Yadrián Rivero)

Semifinals of the II Elite League of Cuban Baseball

Matanzas 10, Las Tunas 5

Matanzas leads the series 3-1

In Game 5, Matanzas hit five home runs, including two in the eighth and ninth innings, helping Yoennis Yera remain undefeated this postseason.

To avoid an often complicated Game 7, the Matanzas Crocodiles are heading back to Matanzas to contest Game 6.

For Las Tunas, there was also Danel Castro in Game 5. A 47-year-old veteran who keeps adding records. On Thursday night, Castro became the first Cuban to reach 2500 career hits in the Cuban National Series. With all the changes in Cuban baseball, this record seems untouchable.

Castro, well aware of the milestone he was aiming for, hit a long and high single to right-center field in his first at-bat off starter Yoennis Yera. As he announced this week that he will play in the 63rd National Series of Cuban Baseball, he will keep extending this record. Congratulations to the veteran and productive hitter from Las Tunas.

With two runs in the first inning and another in the second and third innings, Matanzas took an early lead against starter Dariel Góngora. With two outs in the first, Góngora walked Yurisbel Gracial, and Samón hit his first of three extra-base hits, a double to center that brought Gracial home. Samón's double No. 456 was a new National Series record, one more than veteran Fredrich Cepeda, who plays with Artemisa. Rusney Castillo will follow with another double for a 2-0 margin.

Eduardo Blanco doubled to left field in the second inning, then moved to third on Yordan Manduley's single, and then scored on a sacrifice fly by Dariel Álvarez, who ended the rumors that he was leaving the team. Samón extended the lead to 4-1 with a solo shot to center in the third inning. 

After those three innings, Góngora pitched like he had done all season. Despite allowing four runs on five hits, including four extra bases, one strikeout, and a walk in three innings, Góngora followed with four scoreless innings, allowing three hits, two strikeouts, and no walks. Las Tunas had a chance to come back in the game, but they didn't.

Matanzas' key was Yoennis Yera, who threw six innings despite being hit hard. He allowed 10 hits but just one run. Yera struck out one and walked one.  During this postseason, he has pitched 11 innings and allowed just one run. His record is now 2-0.

Immediately following Góngora's exit from the mound, Las Tunas' bullpen took a major hit.

The eighth and ninth innings of Game 5 showed Matanzas' favoritism and offensive power throughout this Elite League. In the eighth, Matanzas scored three runs on four hits, including a second homer from Samón and a two-run shot from José A. Noroña. 

Matanzas added three more runs in the ninth. Gracial hit a solo shot to center to start the inning, Samón walked, and after Ariel Sánchez gave up the first out, Erisbel Arruebarrena hit a two-run home run to left field to make it 10-1.

In the bottom of the ninth, Las Tunas rebelled against Matanzas' bullpen. The team scored four runs, that included a solo home run by Denis Peña. Nevertheless, with the score 10-5, runners in the corners and one out, manager Armando Ferrer called his closer, Armando Dueñas. Despite a night to forget in Game 4, Dueñas retired Danel Castro with a 4663 groundout double play to end the game.

Game 6 is Saturday at 6:30 pm (ET).



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