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Cuba’s baseball championship currently has two contestants, two excellent performers, those who draw the public to the stadiums and to the screens of thousands of TV sets, two teams that do not like half-measures; you hate them or love them: Industriales and Villa Clara.
History, rivalry, and glamour are guaranteed with them. With them, in this year’s final, baseball fans have splendid days, passionate gatherings, and even wrong predictions insured.

Right now, nobody can predict how many games it will take to decide the winner. Perhaps, the series will last four clashes and not because of that rivalry will be lower, the showcase less lucid.

Maybe it will extend till the seventh game, but we’ll have good baseball regardless the extension of the series, or the winner.

First, Villa Clara comes from a spectacular season and dominated the Eastern Zone, despite the amazing pace of Guantanamo. Later, they ousted Santiago de Cuba and Ciego de Avila from the competition, two of the best teams of championship.

The Oranges have a good pitching staff, maybe Cuba’s second best after Havana, with effective relievers and a solid defense, marked by a good central line, a first-class catcher –or two– and agile outfielders with powerful arms.

Villa Clara’s defensive gaps are located in first base and third base, but Ariel Borrero and Ramon Lunar are, along with Leonys Martin and Ariel Pestano, the mainstays of the attack.

On top of that, the lefthanded hitters of Villa Clara threaten, though Industriales have two outstanding lefties such as Ian Rendon and Arley Sanchez to counteract it.

Besides their team work and versatile offensive, the most striking thing of Eduardo Martin’s team is their starting staff, led by internationally experienced Freddy Asiel Alvarez, who looks a pitcher in regular competitions and another in playoff rounds.

Lefthander Robelio Carrillo and experienced righthander Luis Borroto complete an impressive trio of starters, with solid performances against Santiago de Cuba and Ciego de Avila.

Unlike what many think, Villa Clara are neither favorite nor forced to win because they are marked by several finals lost vs. Industriales, which do not come with the bothering favouritism, because they were the team that qualified with the lowest number of victories.

The Blues are very far from the team that placed the qualifying round: their batting improved with the entry of Carlos Tabares and Yohandri Urgelles. Alexander Malleta got rid of the abulia of many months and acted as a leader. And Rudy Reyes and Leugim Barroso strengthened the defense in third base and the shortstop.

Industriales play aggressively, but they cannot run the bases vs. Villa Clara as they did against Havana. On the other side, their pitchers will not face up the weak hitters of Lombillo. But Villa Clara could not impress their rivals as they usually do vs. Ciego de Avila, in spite of Vladimir Garcia.

The final kicks off without a clear favorite. This is, perhaps, the main thing, the most striking thing, what arouses more expectation.

By: By José Antonio Secades

Source: Cubasi

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