It was a long-awaited baseball resurrection of sorts and it most appropriately came in an event Cuba has so long dominated. The Central American Games tournament, first held in Mexico City in 1926, has now crowned the Cubans as it baseball champions 15 times in only 22 sessions – a even more meaningful domination when one remembers that Cuba sat on the sidelines (mostly for political reasons) twice in the 1950s and twice more during the past dozen-year span (2002 and 2010).
Cuba, the big favorite in the baseball tournament of the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games, did not disappoint its fans and finished with a perfect 5-0 record, defeating Nicaragua 9-3 in the championship game Friday night at the Beto Avila stadium in Veracruz.
In winning the silver medal the Nicaraguans managed their best effort so far in these games.
Cuba came from behind to win a hard fought semifinal game on Thursday 6-3 over the Dominican Republic. They will now face Nicaragua – which defeated Puerto Rico 2-1 in the other semifinal-, on Friday night in the finals of the baseball tournament of the Central American and Caribbean Games taking place in Veracruz, Mexico.
Cuba’s top ballplayers strolled onto the field at Beto Avila Stadium in Veracruz this past week attired in classy new uniforms and also brimming with apparent confidence on the eve of a Central American Games tournament they have virtually dominated across the past nine decades (15 championships in 18 appearances). But the current squad led by frenetic skipper Victor Mesa was for all its historical trappings still more of a mystery and a puzzle than the apparent juggernaut outfit of the not-too-distant past.
An expected victory over Guatemala, in seven innings and by the mercy rule with 10-0 score, sent Team Cuba to the semifinals of the XXII Central American and Caribbean Games, in the city of Veracruz, Mexico.
Five pitchers contributed to the shutout- the second by Cuba in the tournament. Right-hander Yosvany Torres (1-0) completed the first 5 innings with 2 hits, a walk and five strikeouts for his first win in an international event with the island’s national team.
A pitching gem by right-hander Norge Luis Ruíz (1-0) during 8 innings and a final scone from Héctor Mendoza, allowed Cuba to open with a 4-0 win over Puerto Rico in Veracruz on Saturday at the start of the baseball tournament the Central American and Caribbean Games.
As expected, José Dariel Abreu, the Chicago White Sox first baseman from Cienfuegos, Cuba, received a unanimous vote Monday on 30 ballots of the Baseball Writers Association of America for the Rookie of the Year of the American League.
Behind Abreu in the vote were Los Angeles Angels starter Matt Shoemaker and New York Yankees reliever, Dellin Betances.