SANTO DOMINGO - Ciego de Avila Tigers grasped their talons on the last hope to stay alive. They did so on the hosts Leones del Escogido in a truly wild duel that needed an extension and lasted more than four hours on the diamond to reach the end. The tension over the Quisqueya Juan Marichal Stadium of this city lasted 11 innings, until Jose Adolis Garcia shook off a fateful night of three strikeouts with cannonball of salvation. About a year ago, the Cuban representative scaped through the window at the end in the semi-finals of the Caribbean Series, and keeping the throne intact.
For the fourth time, manager Roger Machado tweaked the line-up, and apparently it was not just dynamite at the plate that he wanted. He improved custody of the plate with Frank Camilo and placed Despaigne in left field. In addition, he bet correctly with the appointment of Yeniet Pérez to ensure the opening, and not because the Villa Clara player had dispatched a long homer to put Cuba in the lead for the first time in the tournament. Of the variants available, he is one of the players with more contact in the batter's box, combines strength, speed and does not lack with the glove warranties.
But the happiness lasted just three outs. Nothing more than taking their next turn at-bat, they took a defensive slip to mount a response, topped with Wilkin Castillo's double that blurred the minimum Cuban advantage. And if damages were not higher it was because of issues of missed opportunities, the local Lions have been our only competition in the tournament.
The pulse remained tense for another five innings, with Edwar Cabrera and Vladimir García – abandoning with an injury of one of his knees- as protagonists on the mound. Both had the effective support of the bullpen, and when connected with sacrifice made by Yulieski Gurriel the triple by the emerging Stayler Hernández, everyone in the stands began to make out the ghosts that have accompanied him during the tournament.
The worst news for the locals came in the eleventh inning, just as Fernando Rodney y prescribed two legendary strikeouts after loading the bases. His discomfort forced in Rafael Soriano, whom José Adolis punished with tiebreaking slug.
"I had been very decentralized in the previous innings and knew the importance of connecting. I got ready and waited for the line, and I could decide. It was not the most important of my career so far, for the homer in Toronto decided a medal, but certainly it will be among the most important in my life," the Avilanian then told the news conference.
Meanwhile, Roger confessed that he was very happy with the result and proud to lead this group of players who did not give up until the end. "I did not want to leave the tournament without a win, and took risks to achieve it. Frank Camilo was to better guide in the pitching and kept the game stuck, we played with Alarcón with the situation and because he has not been good at-bats, we put in Borrero for being a lefty and his ability to make contact," he explained during the exchange with the press.
With the final out, the cry of content, relief and hope came out. The Tigers deserved a prize for believing in their abilities, and tonight will try again hunting the Deer of Mazatlan after covering the entire qualifying journey perfectly.
Previously, other Tigers, but those of Venezuelan Aragua, will look for the other finalist ticket with a victory over the Santurce Crabbers, who have been trying to take the elusive sceptre back to Puerto Rico for more than three decades.
Translated by ESTI