By Circles Robinson
Cuba and Nicaragua were locked in a closely fought baseball game Thursday evening until the seventh inning when the explosive Cuban offensive scored four times to take a decisive 8-3 lead.
The two teams played the first of a three game tune-up series in Havana; Cuba in preparation for the World Baseball Classic (March 3-20) and Nicaragua for the Central American Games March 3-16).
Vicyonhandri Odelin started for the Cubans but had trouble keeping his pitches down and was knocked out of the box with back to back doubles in the third inning.
Yadel Marti came on in spectacular fashion, and although he gave up a hit that allowed Nicaragua to go ahead 3-2, he then retired the next 10 batters, setting the stage for the island’s hitters to break through with the go ahead run in the sixth and the icing in the seventh.
A solo homerun by Alexei Ramirez in the fourth against Nicaraguan starting pitcher Aristides Sevilla had tied the score.
Sevilla, who went 5.1 innings, was applauded for his effort by the Cuban fans when he was replaced by Julio Raudez, after Cuba went ahead 4-3 on a single by Ariel Borrero and a double by Ariel Pestano.
Raudez got out of the sixth without further damage, however, in the seventh, the Cuban team pounded him for four runs led by doubles by Michel Enriquez, Rudy Reyes and Joan Carlos Pedroso.
Yadier Pedroso pitched the final two scoreless innings for Cuba to preserve the victory.
The play of the game came in the second inning when Nicaragua’s third baseman Jorge Luis Avellan fielded a blazing one-hopper by Eduardo Paret that looked like extra bases. Avellan touched third and threw hard to first for a double play.
In all, the Cuban team pounded out 13 hits to Nicaragua’s seven. The three game series continues on Friday and Saturday. Thursday’s game was televised on both Cuban and Nicaraguan TV.