Venezuela Stays Alive and Panama Continues to Roll

The Cuban bats had trouble against Wilfredo Boscan, accumulating just three hits in his 6.2 innings of work as Venezuela won the pitcher’s duel 1-0. Three different relievers continued the shutout of the Cuban bats with Pedro Rodriguez getting the final three outs to pick up the save. Cuba got six strong innings from their veteran Freddy Alvarez, probably the best pitcher in Cuba not in the major leagues but the anemic Cuban bats failed to support his effort.

The two teams traded zeros for the first six innings. Cuba put runners on first and third with two outs in the second but failed to score. Venezuela perched runners on first and second with just one out but a double play ended that threat. The lone run scored in the seventh when Alexander Ayala booted a ground ball hit by Cuban native Rangel Ravelo. The Cubans chose to replace Alvarez with Yoennis Yera and he walked Luis Jimenez. Livan Moinelo replaced Yera. Juniel Querecuto, who grounded into a double play with runners on first and second and one out in the fourth chose to bunt and advanced the runners to second and third. Alejandro de Aza hit a ball deep enough in the outfield to score Rangel for the only run of the game.

Cuba never mounted a threat after that with their last six batters failing to reach base. Alfredo Despaigne, the hero of the game yesterday lined a shot into centerfield but it was caught by de Aza.

Panama continued to surprise rocking the two time defending champ Puerto Rico 8-7. They scored seven runs in the final two frames to pull out the game. Puerto Rico still rallied for one run in the bottom of the ninth but left the tying run stranded at first. Manny Corpas got the last three outs to pick up the save.

The big hit for Panama was a two run two out double by Jilton Calderon that gave Panama a 7-6 lead in the ninth. Allen Cordoba added an insurance run with his RBI single into left field.

The game changing moment for Panama is when they scored four runs after the first two hitters were retired in the eighth. Elmer Reyes had a two run single with the bases loaded and Javy Guerra had another big hit with a two run double that pulled Panama to within one.

Puerto Rico had a well pitched game from Ivan Maldanado, who only allowed one run in his six innings of work. The bullpen had trouble retiring Panama hitters with four different relievers coming in to pitch, all coughing up runs in less than an inning of work each. With the scored tied 1-1 after five Puerto Rico seemed to have pulled away, scoring five runs in the next two innings. At 0-2 their hopes of a three peat appears slim.

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