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LEBC 2024 Postseason | Matanzas takes an important 2-0 lead with a 10-2 victory in Game 2 of the semifinal

Updated: Jan 10

Matanzas has scored 22 runs in two games and has confirmed their favoritism once more

In the best-of-seven series, Matanzas leads 2-0. (Photo: Guillermo Rodríguez)

Semifinals of the II Elite League of Cuban Baseball

Matanzas 10, Las Tunas 2

Matanzas leads the series 2-0

All the efforts of the starter, as a reinforcement of Las Tunas, Yadián Martínez, collapsed in just one inning, when Matanzas made a comeback to end up leading Las Tunas 10-2, during Game 2 of the semifinals of the II Elite League of Cuban Baseball.

No matter the place or the moment, the Matanzas Crocodiles are rolling right now.

Yurisbel Gracial homered for second consecutive game, César García pitched five effective innings, Frank L. Medina took the win after three scoreless innings and Matanzas beat Yadián Martínez and the Las Tunas Lumberjacks 10-2 on Sunday night for a 2-0 lead in the semifinals of the Elite League of Cuban Baseball.

To stop the best offensive of this second edition of the League Élite, Las Tunas coach Abeysi Pantoja undoubtedly bet on Martinez. For five innings, Martínez delivered. Within that timeframe, the right-hander threw only 63 pitches, saving a team that lost Game 1 of the series 12-0 after allowing five homers. After five innings, he held Matanzas' batters hitless.

Despite loading the bases in the second inning, Yadián gained confidence and retired 11 Matanzas batters in a row. Thanks to two hits and an error in the second inning, as well as an RBI single by shortstop Juan C. Arencibia in the fifth, he enjoyed a 2-0 lead after five innings.

It is, however, not easy to hold on to a group with three former MLB players as well as other historic Cuban baseball players, and Yadián once again fell victim to the power displayed in the first meeting of the series by the Crocodiles. After one out in the bottom of the sixth, tournament batting champion Alexander Pozo singled and Yurisbel Gracial hit a two-run homer to tie the game at 2-2. This was the 10th home run of Matanzas slugger Gracial in the tournament, and his second in two games.

Yadián would never be the same after the home run. Yordanis Samón and Rusney Castillo singled back-to-back - both advancing on an error - and an adverse pitching count against Dariel Álvarez, Martínez was removed. For the national champions, it was just the beginning of the end.

Facing reliever Rodolfo Díaz, Erisbel Arruebarrena's sacrifice fly gave Matanzas a 3-2 lead that they would never surrender. As a result of two errors and a steal in the inning, two more runs were scored, extending the lead to 5-2.

Yadián faced 23 batters over 5 1/3 innings. Despite only accepting four hits with three walks and five strikeouts, he could not dominate Gracial's hot bat in that crucial sixth inning. For the 62nd National Series champions, the game was never the same after the tie. Taking the loss, the right-hander would finish with four runs - three earned.

Armando Ferrer, Matanzas' manager, was pleased with his starter's performance. César García left the game with a 2-0 deficit after five innings, but it should be noted that it was just his first start of the tournament and he faced another starter who, for the same number of innings, limited the Matanzas team's offensive. Despite not striking out, García did not walk, and he was able to limit the Las Tunas' offensive damage during his appearance. 

After Las Tunas' fateful sixth inning, the eastern team had a chance to come back into the game, this time against right-hander Frank L. Medina from Pinar del Rio. Héctor Castillo started the eighth inning with a double, and Yunieski Larduet moved him to third after a single. With just one swing Las Tunas could have got back into the contest, but Medina retired Arencibia, Castro, and Alarcón, in a row to keep the score the same.

With an RBI single from Rusney Castillo in the seventh, Matanzas extended the lead to 6-2, bringing home Yordan Manduley. The team closed out the match completely in the eighth, scoring another four runs with five hits against three relievers from Las Tunas, securing the final 10-2 win. In the ninth inning, closer Armando Dueñas faced four batters and struck out two to end the game.

Now, Game 3 of the series will take place at 6:30 pm on Tuesday, January 9 at the Julio A. Mella stadium in Las Tunas.  Right-hander Joel Mojena will start for Matanzas. Las Tunas will counteract with right-hander Yosiel Serrano.



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