Cuba to Play Panama in Series del Caribe Finals

Cuba won when they had to beating Venezuela 3-0 on the last day to send their bracket into a three way tie with all three teams tied at 2-2. Run differential allowed Cuba to advance. Lazaro Blanco, who won the opener for Cuba pitched brilliantly again with five shutout innings to shut down the Venezuelan offense. Four different relievers shut out the Venezuelans the rest of the way with Raidel Martinez pitching the ninth to pick up the save.

Alfredo Despaigne was again the big bat for Cuba, sometimes the only bat. His RBI single in the bottom of the third drove in the first run for Cuba. A bases loaded walk to Carlos Benitez scored Despaigne for the second run of the inning. It was the last of three consecutive walks by Venezuelan pitchers. Cuba added another run in the sixth on a throwing error by the catcher after Yuniesky Larduet stole third. Larduet had scored the first run in the third inning after leading off with a single.

Cuba advancing was a surprise the way their listless offense could not get anything going but Panama advancing to the finals was the real shocker. The Puerto Ricans, the two time champions ironically were the only team eliminated from advancing to the finals on the last day and they appeared to play like it.

They collected just five hits as Oriel Caicedo limited them to just three in his 5.1 innings of work. Manny Corpas pitched a perfect ninth to pick up his third save. The only run scored in the fourth inning on a throwing error by Alexis Pantoja trying to turn a double play.

Rey Fuentes came to play getting three of the five Puerto Rican hits. Adelberto Flores pitched 6.1 solid innings but gave up the one unearned run.

So Cuba and Panama advance to the finals.

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