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Playoffs 2021: Vegueros destroy Alazanes in 13-3 blowout win and tie semifinals

The Alazanes had Vegueros exactly where they wanted them Sunday afternoon – with the series 1-0 on Granma's favor and winning Game 2 against one of their aces, Vladimir Baños. In a call that may haunt Granma for the rest of the National Series Cuban Semifinals – NSCS -, manager Carlos Martí pulled another dominating pitcher from the mound – but unlike Game 1 – that decision ended with an embarrassing loss. BOX SCORE Pinar del Río scored eleven runs in the last two innings of Game 2 – 7th and 8th innings – and its bullpen exceled, beating Granma 13-3 by the mercy rule Sunday afternoon to tie the NSCS at one game apiece. The winning runs came in an interminable seventh inning where veteran starter Leandro Martínez was removed after walking leadoff hitter Julio Y. González with his 88 pitch of the game. Reliever Kelvis Rodríguez struck out Luis P. Acosta for the first out of the inning, but Granma’ shortstop Yulián Milián followed with a costly error leaving two runners on. Rodríguez retired Renier León in fly out to right field in what it was supposed to be the last out of the inning, but then allowed Juan C. Arencibia’s game-tying RBI single to right field, scoring González to tie the game at 3. From this moment everything changed for Granma. There were nine hitters in the inning, three pitcher substitutions, five runs, and a key two-run single by Lázaro E. Blanco that gave Pinar a 5-3 lead. Granma got on the board first with a solo shot by Roel Santos off starter Vladimir Baños in the bottom of the first inning, but that lead would not last long. After three scoreless innings, Leandro Martínez struggled with his command in the top of the fourth inning walking two and allowing Luis P. Acosta two-run double to right field that put Pinar on top 2-1. Pinar starter Vladimir Baños tossed 5 innings, walked a career-high eight – including three intentional walks to Carlos Benítez - and struck out three. The right-hander threw 88 pitches and, even when he had runners on in all innings but the second, he was able to get out of trouble using his curveball and changeup efficiently, especially the three times he faced Granma’s catcher Iván Prieto. In the first inning and after Roel Santos’ homer, Baños allowed Raico Santos double to center field and then intentionally walked Benítez for the first time. With two runners on and already losing 1-0, Baños did not panic and forced Prieto to ground into a 6443 double-play. Two innings later, Baños struggled with his command and walked three batters – including his second intentional walk to Benítez - to load the bases with two outs, only to retire Prieto in a grounder to second to end the inning. In the fifth, Baños walked Raico Santos and when Santos stole second, the veteran right-hander went back to the tactic used in previous innings, Benítez was intentionally walked for the third time in the game and then Baños induced a 4663 double-play grounder against Prieto to get out of the inning. After Baños left the mound reliever Frank Luis Medina had the “leading role” pitching 2 1/3 innings of none hits, three strikeouts and two walks. Closer Isbel Hernández got one out in the eighth. Pinar’s three relievers – Reilandy González got one out in the sixth and allowed two runs - combined for 3 innings of two-hits, two runs, three strikeouts and two walks. Going into this best-of-seven series and even after losing its two super starts relievers - Liván Moinelo and Raidel Martínez - the Vegueros were considered the better team in the bullpen. This was demonstrated in Game 2. Granma’s bullpen went off the rails allowing 10 runs – seven earned - over two innings, including six in the top of the eighth inning that triggered the mercy rule score. Frank Luis Medina (4-7) picked up the win for Pinar, while Kelbis Rodríguez (3-2) was charged with the loss allowing three decisive runs on one hit and a walk in 2/3 innings. Granma starter Leandro Martínez tossed six innings of three runs – two earned – on five hits and three walks, he struck out three and had no decision. Game 3 is Tuesday afternoon at José A. Huelga Stadium. Yosvany Torres or Yaifredo Domínguez starts for the Vegueros against César García. Highlights National Series Semifinals Feb 20, Game 1: Pri 2, Grm 9 Feb 21, Game 2: Pri 13, Grm 3 (Mercy Rule - 8 innings) Feb 23, Game 3 - 1 p.m.: Probables, César García, Grm vs. Yosvany Torres/Yaifredo Domínguez, Pri The best-of-seven series is tied 1-1 (Top photo of Pinar del Río: GameTime Sport, photo of Frank L. Medina: GameTime Sport)

The Alazanes had Vegueros exactly where they wanted them Sunday afternoon – with the series 1-0 on Granma's favor and winning Game 2...

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