By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
Jan. 19, 2023
Portuarios is one win away from clinching the first Cuban Elite League title and a berth in the 2023 Caribbean Series.
“Being in this position is what we have always wanted, since the season began the desire is to reach the final and win the title, and we are close to achieving it,” Portuarios starter Pavel Hernandez told World Baseball Network via WhatsApp. “I’m proud of the team and the work we have done.”
During the top of the second inning, Agricultores struck first as Guillermo Aviles drove a line drive double to center field, scoring Rafael Vinalesn. Andres De La Cruz doubled to left field, scoring Vinales as Agricultores took a 2-0 lead. A few batters later, Alexquemer Sanchez singled to left field scoring De La Cruz to make it 3-0.
Hernandez was taken out of the game after pitching 1.2 innings, allowing five hits, four earned runs, and striking out one batter before being replaced by relief pitcher Marcos Ortega.
In the bottom of the second inning, Portuarios’ Jorge Aloma drove a fly ball to left field over the fence for a two-run home run, cutting the lead to 4-2.
Porturios’ Dennis Laza tied the game up at four with a two-run home run to left field, as Agricultores’ starter Yunier Castillo was chased from the game in the third. Castillo went just two innings, allowing six hits and four earned runs. A few batters later, Yasiel Santoya broke the tie with a two-run home run to left field for a 6-4 Portuarios lead.
In the bottom of the fourth inning, Portuarios added more insurance on Yasniel Gonzalez’ two-run home run to go up 8-4.
Portuarios did not look back the rest of the way, rallying behind Ortega, who faced 24 batters in 6.1 innings pitched, allowing five hits, one earned run, striking out three and walking three during his relief performance.
Relief pitcher Juan Penalver closed out the game for Portuarios, getting the final two outs when Vinales hit into a 6-4-3 double play to end the game. Portuarios is up 3-1 in the Elite League Final and will play Game 5 at Estadio Nelson Fernandez on Thursday at 1:30 p.m. EST.