2018 Caribbean Series: Dominican Republic eliminates Cuba in Semifinals
Dominican Republic beat Cuba 7-4 on Wednesday night, advancing to the 2018 Caribbean Series Finals to face Puerto Rico.
Cuba, represented by Alazanes de Granma, played a great Caribbean Series compiling a 3-1 record in the Quailifying Round, but for consecutive years falls just short of reaching the finals.
Cuba scored early off their Cuban ace of the past Yunesky Maya to take an early 3-0 lead. Lázaro Blanco shut out the Dominicans for the first five innings. The Dominicans finally got to him in the sixth, Junior Lake leading off the inning with a triple. Two outs later it appeared Lake would be stranded at third, but Ronny Rodríguez gave the Dominicans a boost with a two run shot into left center field. A Carlos Paulino walk finished the day for Blanco.
Lázaro Blanco SP / Alazanes de Granma
IP: 5.2 H: 5 R: 2 ER: 2 BB: 3 SO: 5 HR: 1
Miguel Lahera was able to get out of the sixth inning without any further damage. In the seventh he coughed up a leadoff single to Yefri Perez and then walked Abiatal Avelino. Raidel Martínez came on to replace Lahera to protect the Cubans 3-2 lead. Gustavo Núñez laid down a bunt but Martínez threw the ball away to allow the tying run to score. An intentional walk to Junior Lake loaded the bases but Edwin Espinal singled to drive in Avelino and Núñez to give the Dominicans a 5-3 lead. Alaín Sánchez came on to pitch with the bases loaded and no outs and was able to escape the inning without giving up a run.
The Dominicans were able to pounce again for two in the eighth. A Yefri Pérez walk and a steal of second got him to third on a ground out. Gustavo Nunez drove him in with a single. Núñez got into scoring position by stealing second and scored on a Junior Lake single to up the Dominican lead to 7-3.
Frederich Cepeda was the big bat for Cuba. He hit a solo shot to lead off the bottom of the eighth to narrow the score to 7-4. He also hit a two run triple in the second and made it a Little League homerun by scoring on a wild throw by Dominican right fielder Ronny Rodríguez. After the Cepeda homer in the eighth the Cubans did not have enough life in their bats to mount a three run comeback. Despaigne made the final out to finish off an 0 for 4 performance. He failed to get a hit in the series.
With Maya sent to the showers early in the second the Dominicans had to rely on their bullpen to protect the lead.
Yuniesky Maya SP / Águilas Cibaeñas
IP: 1.1 H: 4 R: 3 ER: 3 BB: 1 SO: 1 HR: 0
Other than the Cepeda homer in the eighth they shut out the Cubans on six hits for the last 7.2 innings.
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