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LEBC Postseason 2024 | Lumberjacks beat Crocodiles 8-5 in Game 3 of the semifinals, to bring series 2-1

Las Tunas now trails 2-1 with Game 4 on Wednesday

Lumberjacks celebrate their Game 3 victory. (Photo: Guillermo Rodríguez)

Semifinals of the II Elite League of Cuban Baseball

Las Tunas 8, Matanzas 5

Matanzas leads the series 2-1

After dropping both away games, the Las Tunas Lumberjacks recovered in Game 3 to beat the Matanzas Crocodiles 8-5 in Game 3 of the semifinals of the Elite League of Cuban Baseball on Tuesday. With the win, they put themselves in position to tie the series with a win in Wednesday’s Game 4 at home.

Veteran Danel Castro led Las Tunas going 2-for-4 at the plate with a homer and two RBIs while Rafael Viñales went 3-for-4 with one RBI.

Yordanis Samón gave Matanzas hope with a solo homer in the third and a 2-for-4 game with 3 RBIs, however, Las Tunas' bats were much more efficient thanks to an all-around effort.

Just as Matanzas got off to a hot start in Game 1 with a three-run first inning and then a seven-run second inning, this time it was Las Tunas' turn to take over.

Las Tunas seized a 2-1 lead in the first inning thanks to veteran Danel Castro, who hit a two-run homer against struggling starter Joel Mojena. The veteran pitcher allowed Yunieski Larduet's double to start the inning and even when he struck out two in the inning, he also issued a free pass and allowed Castro's key homer. In National Series history, Danel's homer was his 252nd, and with his two hits night, Castro is just 2 hits away from 2500.

Danel Castro after hitting his home run. (Photo: Periódico26)

Las Tunas extended the lead against Mojena in the second inning, thanks to Denis Peña's double and a RBI single by Héctor Castillo. Then when Samón homered in the third inning and Matanzas added another run to tie the game, Las Tunas bats came alive for the first time in the series, scoring five runs in the bottom of the inning to take a 8-3 lead.

In that inning, there were singles by Juan C. Arencibia, Yosvani Alarcón, and Rafael Viñales, the latter of whom drove in a run to get starter Mojena out. Las Tunas then put on a feast against reliever Noelvis Entenza, hitting four consecutive singles to extend their lead to 7-3. Entenza was instantly back in the dugout after being unable to get a single out. The second reliever, Haykel Parra ended the inning, no before allowing Arencibia's RBI single for the fifth run of the inning.

Matanzas had a chance to come back in the game after Parra pitched three and a third scoreless innings. Also shutting down Las Tunas' hitters in the seventh and eighth innings was Eriel Carrillo. However, Las Tunas relievers managed to limit the powerful Matanzas lineup to only two runs in six innings.

It was the relievers Rodolfo Silva and Alberto P. Civil who did the rest, after starter Yosiel Serrano had a bad outing allowing three runs in three innings. There was only one bad moment in Silva's four excellent innings of two hits. In the sixth, after two outs, he walked Alex Pozo, then allowed Yurisbel Gracial and Yordanis Samón to hit back-to-back singles that cut Las Tunas' lead to 8-5. Despite this, he ended the inning by retiring dangerous Rusney Castillo with a 54 groundout and pitched a scoreless seventh to complete the outing. As a result, he was credited with the victory. 

Las Tunas top closer Pablo A. Civil logged another save after pitching two innings. A double by Yordan Manduley and a walk to Gracial put him in trouble in the eighth, but he was able to escape the jam by striking out Samón. In the ninth, he walked Erisbel Arruebarrena, but retired Castillo and Dariel Álvarez, and struck out Andrys Pérez to end the game.

After the game Civil said "In our first game, I had paid close attention to their aggressive hitters back in Matanzas, so I pitched on the corners, never giving anything away, and that's how the game turned out."

Game 4 is Wednesday at 2:30 pm.



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