2008-2009 Cuban National League
From BR Bullpen
The 48th Serie Nacional was won by La Habana, 4 games to 1, over Villa Clara. La Habana won the western league title in both the regular season and in the playoffs, while Villa Clara overcame a third-place finish in the regular season to upset both defending champion Santiago de Cuba and Ciego de Avila (which had the best record in the regular season). La Habana was noted primarily for their pitching staff which included Yulieski González, Yadier Pedroso, Jonder Martínez and Miguel A. González, while Villa Clara's biggest names, Ariel Pestano and Eduardo Paret, were winding down their careers. La Habana was managed by Esteban Lombillo.
The finals opened with a close battle. La Habana led 3-0 entering the 8th, with Yulieski González throwing a one-hitter to that point (after 6 no-hit innings). Things turned sour quickly as rookie Ramon Lunar homered, C Yulexis La Rosa tripled and PH Yandy Canto singled to make it 3-2. Jose A. Garcia relieved González but gave up a double to RF Andy Zamora; after a passed ball, 1B Ariel Borrero tied it with a sac fly. In the bottom of the 9th, Yolexis Ulacia came on for Villa Clara. RF Ruby Silva greeted him with a double and moved to third on a fly. With two outs, 2B Ernesto Molinet was intentionally walked. On a full count, DH Rafael Orta singled in the winner for La Habana, 4-3 victors.
In game two of the finals, Villa Clara got on the board in the top of the first. Alain Sanchez was ineffective for Villa Clara, though, giving up runs in the first and third and leaving with a 2-1 deficit. La Habana kept on padding their lead and they were ahead 4-2 entering the 8th. DH Rafael Orta completed a 3-for-3 day with a homer off Ulacia in the 8th to make it 5-2 Habana. Villa Clara still had some fight left, though. Miguel Lahera relieved Miguel A. González after 8 strong innings, but the Cuban national team member was a bust here. LF Yuniet Flores greeted him with a single, Zamora tripled and Borrero singled (to finish his day 4 for 4, getting most of his team's 7 hits) to close it to 5-4. That was it for Lahera and Jonder Martínez entered. Martínez went 1-2-3, getting Lunar, Pestano and La Rosa to end the game and put La Habana ahead in the series, 2 games to 0.
Game three also went La Habana's way, this time from the get-go. In the first, Yosvani Perez allowed two runs in 1/3 of an inning, with Rafael Orta again coming up big, this time with a RBI double to open the scoring. Habana led 5-0 entering the bottom of the 6th, when Yadier Pedroso finally allowed a run. Jonder Martínez replaced Pedroso and tossed scoreless ball for the final 3 2/3 innings. Villa Clara had been held to 8 runs in the first 3 runs by the strong La Habana staff, while Villa Clara's hurlers had given up 14 runs. Their backs were to the wall.
Villa Clara finally took a contest in game four. Yulieski González again turned in a fine start, fanning 12 and leading 3-2 into the bottom of the 9th, but an error by Molinet tied the contest. In the 10th, Lunar singled off Jose A. Garcia with the bases loaded to give Villa Clara the win.
It was only a momentary setback for La Habana, as Miguel A. González went the distance with a 5-hit, 8-K shutout to wrap up the team's dominant pitching of the tournament (12 runs in 5 games). La Habana scored six times in the finale, with both Silva and Molinet going yard.
Alfredo Despaigne set a new single-season home run record with 32, breaking Alexei Bell's one-year-old record by one; this record would not last much longer, being broken in 2010-2011. Vladimir Garcia tied the single-season record for saves. Jorge Padrón tied the record with six hits in a game.
Jorge Alberto Martínez Roque threw the 50th no-hitter of the Castro era, stopping the Industriales at Estadio Latinoamericano on January 29, holding them to the minimum 27 batters. A hit batsmen prevents a perfect game. The right-hander had only been 10-20 for his career entering the contest.
|La Habana||57-33||--||Esteban Lombillo|
|Pinar del Rio||54-36||3||Luis Casanova|
|Sancti Spíritus||48-42||9||Juan Castro|
|Isla de la Juventud||43-47||14||Armando Johnson|
|Ciego de Ávila||64-26||-||Roger Machado|
|Santiago de Cuba||57-33||7||Antonio Pacheco|
|Villa Clara||53-37||11||Eduardo Martín|
|Las Tunas||36-54||28||Ermidelio Urrutia|
Villa Clara 4, Santiago de Cuba 3 Ciego de Avila 4, Holguin 0 Pinar del Rio 4, Sancti Spirutus 1 La Habana 4, Isla de la Juventud 1
Villa Clara 4, Ciego de Avila 1 La Habana 4, Pinar del Rio 2
La Habana 4, Villa Clara 1
- Bold indicates either wooden bat record or aluminum bat record (1976-1977 to 1998-1999), Italics indicate Serie Nacional record
 Award Winners
The Most Valuable Player (Jugadores más Valiosos) was Alfredo Despaigne of Granma. Michel Gorguet of Guantanamo was the Series' Rookie of the Year (Novatos del Año). Miguel Alfredo González was named Postseason MVP. Esteban Lombillo (La Habana) was named Manager of the Year.
All-Stars were C Rolando Meriño (Santiago de Cuba), 1B Yorelvis Charles (Ciego de Avila), 2B Yoilán Cerce (Guantanamo), SS Alexander Guerrero (Las Tunas), 3B Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus), Bell, OF Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), OF Yoennis Céspedes (Granma), OF Giorvis Duvergel (Guantanamo), DH Leris Aguilera (Holguin), UT Leonis Martin (Villa Clara), RHP Yunieski Maya (Pinar del Rio), LHP Maikel Folch (Ciego de Avila) and RP Vladimir García (Ciego de Avila).
Gold Glove winners were C Yaimel Alberro (Matanzas), 1B Leslie Anderson (Camaguey), 2B Mario Vega (Ciego de Avila), SS Yorbis Borroto (Ciego de Avila), 3B Marino Luis (Cienfuegos) and Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus) in a tie, OF Juan Carlos Linares (La Habana), Alexei Bell (Santiago de Cuba) and Rafael Orta (La Habana) and P Wilbert Pérez (Isla de la Juventud).