By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Jan. 22, 2023
On Saturday, Agricultores forced a deciding game seven with a win 9-1 over Portuarios at Estadio Martires de Barbados, battling back in the championship series after being down 3-1.
A day later, Agricultores became the first team in the history of Cuban baseball to come back from a 3-1 series deficit and win a championship title, defeating Portuarios 7-6.
Agricultores manager Carlos Santos put starting pitcher Leonardo Martinez on the mound to finish the comeback. Martinez was a little shaky during game seven, going just two innings, allowing four hits, one earned run, striking out one batter, and walking one, but departing the game with Agricultores holding a 2-1 lead.
Portuarios manager Michael Gonzalez decided to start Pavel Hernandez on short rest. Hernandez during his start went two innings, allowing three hits, walking two batters, one earned run, and no strikeouts.
Agricultores had their backs against the wall in the bottom of the fifth inning as Yosvany Alarcon, Yordanis Alarcon, and Rafael Vinales recorded key singles to break the 3-3 tie and go up by three runs.
In top of the ninth, Portuarios was down to their final three outs and managed to tie the game at 6-6. Relief pitcher Yoel Mogena carried the Agricultores’ pitching staff, throwing 116 pitches in 6.1 innings, giving up four earned runs, allowing seven hits, striking out one batter, and allowing one walk out of the bullpen.
In the bottom of the ninth inning, Agricultores’ Osvaldo Abreu laced a walk-off single to center field to capture a 7-6 win and berth in the Caribbean Series.
The first year for the Cuban Elite League has provided high-level competition for Cuban players before the Serie Nacional starts up in April. The Federation Cuban de Beisbol will look at players from the Elite League and the Caribbean Series as a pool from which to draw the roster for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic. Cuba will be in Pool A, playing against the Netherlands, Italy, Panama, and host nation Chinese Taipei from March 8-13.
Agricultores, as the Cuban Elite League champion, will be Cuba’s representative in the eight-team 2023 Caribbean Series in Caracas, Venezuela. They will be the first Cuban team at the Caribbean Series since Serie Nacional’s Lenadores Las Tunas represented the island nation in 2019, losing to Toros de Herrera in the championship game at Estadio Rod Carew in Panama City. They’ll open Caribbean Series play against Curacao in the first game of the event on February 2 at 10:30 a.m. at Estadio Forum La Guaira.
Agricultores of the Cuban Elite League will join Curaçao, Federales de Chiriquí (Panama), Vaqueros de Monteria (Colombia), and Tigres del Licey (Dominican Republic). The champions of the leagues of Venezuela, Puerto Rico, and Mexico remain to be decided.