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2011-2012 Cuban National League

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The 2011-2012 Cuban National League was the 51st Cuban Serie Nacional campaign. The league saw the first change in the teams since it went to 16 entries in 1992-1993. The La Habana Province was split in two, replaced by Mayabeque and Artemisa. As a result, the three-time champion La Habana team was replaced by corresponding Mayabeque and Artemisa teams. Rumors originally had been that the Metropolitanos team would be removed, leaving Cuba with one team per province, but the league instead went to an awkward 17-team format. The two expansion teams promptly posted the league's two worst records. There were also many managerial changes, with only six of the 16 managers from 2010-2011 returning after a couple years of stability.

The Mizuno ball 200 was used during the season, while the league continued to implement the controversial "Schiller rule" regarding extra innings play. The pitcher's mound was raised to a height of 15 inches, five more than what is used in Major League Baseball. [1]

The season opened on November 27th, with a rematch of the 2010-2011 finalists. This time, Ciego de Ávila beat Pinar del Rio, 8-4. Vladimir García beat 2010-2011 finals MVP Yosvani Torres while Yoelvis Fiss went 4 for 4 with a 2-run homer.

On March 1, Urmanis Guerra hits the first walk-off grand slam in a game involving the Schiller Rule, taking Maikel Hidalgo deep.

A major record was also broken in March. On March 6th, 43-year-old Enrique Esteban Díaz (already Cuba's all-time steal leader) broke up a no-hitter by Reinier Verano with two outs in the 6th inning to tie Antonio Pacheco with 2,356 career hits. He topped Pacheco a day later with a single off Julio Martinez.

On March 13th, the Schiller Rule took effect in a no-hitter for the first time. 20-year-old Raimar Navarro entered the game with a 12-23 career record for Holguín but overcame eight walks to toss nine no-hit shutout innings. He was matched zero for zero by Frank Madan of Camagüey. Madan finally allowed a run in the 10th thanks to the Schiller Rule. In the bottom of the 10th, Pablo Fernández finished the no-hitter, the third combined no-no in Cuban annals and the first since 1979.

Also in March, José Dariel Abreu homered in six straight games, tying the Cuban mark (last done by Frederich Cepeda 3 years earlier).

On April 3, Alfredo Despaigne took Ian Rendón deep for his 34th home run of the year, reclaiming the home run record he had set three years earlier but which had been broken in 2010-2011 by Abreu and Yoenis Céspedes. Abreu later caught up to him at 35 but Despaigne hit an inside-the-park shot (his only such homer this season) off Alesky Perera on the final day of the season to finish with the record.

One other record that fell was Cuba's single-season save mark. After Duniel Ibarra set a new record with 27 last season, Danni Aguilera matched it this season.

The finals began on May 20 at the historic Estadio Latinoamericano. In a pitcher's duel, both Vladimir García and Odrisamer Despaigne tossed six shutout innings in front of 55,415 fans. In the 7th, Ciego de Ávila loaded the bases against Despaigne. A wild pitch and a passed ball by Lisban Correa scored Yoelvis Fiss and Isaac Martínez. Raúl González then drove in Lisdey Díaz for a 3-0 lead. García also allowed a run in the bottom of the 7th. In the bottom of the 9th, Alexander Malleta scored on a hit by Yasmani Tomas for the Industriales. It was only the third hit allowed by García. That brought up Carlos Tabares, a 38-year-old former Olympian. He was no match for one of Cuba's top hurlers, as Tabares was retired to end it.

Game 2 was delayed a day due to rain. On May 22, Ciego de Ávila romped to a 8-3 win. Starters Ian Rendón (Industriales) and Osmar Carrero (Ciego de Ávila) both struggled, getting knocked out in the 5th, but Yander Guevara tossed 4 1/3 shutout innings of one-hit, no-walk relief for the win while the Industriales bullpen was spotty. DH Isaac Martínez led a balanced attack for the victors, going 2 for 3 with 3 RBI.

With game 3 on May 27, action moved to Estadio José Ramón Cepero but the home team lost for the third straight game. Both game 1 starters returned and again did well. Vladimir García carried a 3-1 lead into the 9th but faded and allowed two runs. In the 10th, against reliever Guevara, the Industriales scored the winner on an error by catcher Lisdey Díaz. The Industriales were led by three players who had 3-for-5 days: 1B Malleta, 2B Juan Torriente and 3B Rudy Reyes.

A day later, Ciego de Ávila pulled off the second rout by a 10-2 margin. Rusney Castillo went 3 for 5 with two home runs and four RBI and got plenty of help, as Yorelvis Charles was 4 for 5 with two doubles and 3 RBI and both Raúl González and Isaac Martínez went deep. Industriales starter Frank Monthiet and five relievers all failed to stop the Tigres, while Osmar Carrero pitched a fine game for the win.

On May 29, Ciego de Ávila wrapped up its first title, beating the 12-time-champion Industriales. This one was a classic finale, going 11 innings before it was settled with a 4-3 score. The Tigres opened with a first-inning run as Fiss doubled in Castillo while facing Industriales starter Antonio Romero. In the second, a two-run homer by Yoandri Urgellés off Guevara put the Industriales ahead. Ciego de Ávila reclaimed the lead in the bottom of the third when Fiss doubled in Ricardo Bordón and Raúl González. From there, Romero and Guevara traded goose eggs from the 4th through the 6th. In the 7th, Urgellés singled and came around on a sacrifice fly by pinch-hitter Irakli Chirino to tie the game at 3. Neither team scored again until the 11th. Yorbis Borroto reached against Industriales reliever Julio Montesinos (who had entered in the 9th, replacing Romero) and was advanced by Díaz. Bordón then came through with his 3rd hit of the game, the winning single, to give the team their first championship after 35 seasons of play. The decision went to Lázaro Santana Jr., who had gotten the last two outs in the top of the 11th after Guevara was finally yanked.

Contents

[edit] Standings

Bold indicates Zona champion; Italics indicates Serie Nacional champion

West Standings

Team Record GB Manager
Matanzas 58-38 -- Víctor Mesa
Industriales 55-41 3 Lázaro Vargas
Cienfuegos 54-42 4 Iday Abreu
Sancti Spíritus 49-46 8.5 Ruperto Zamora
Pinar del Rio 47-49 9 Alfonso Urquiola
Isla de la Juventud 39-57 19 Armando Johnson
Metropolitanos 38-58 20 Luís Suárez
Artemisa 36-60 22 Esteban Lombillo
Mayabeque 33-63 25 Rigoberto Madera

East Standings

Team Record GB Manager
Villa Clara 58-38 -- Ramón Moré Flaquet
Las Tunas 54-41 3.5 Juan Miguel Gordo
Ciego de Ávila 54-42 4 Roger Machado
Granma 54-42 4 Indalecio Alejandrez
Santiago de Cuba 53-43 5 Alcides Sánchez
Guantánamo 45-49 9 Agustín Lescaille
Holguín 44-52 14 Felicio García
Camagüey 43-53 15 Felipe Sarduy

Playoffs

  • Ciego de Ávila 4, Las Tunas 3
  • Granma 4, Villa Clara 3
  • Matanzas 4, Sancti Spíritus 3
  • Industriales 4, Cienfuegos 1
  • Ciego de Ávila 4, Granma 2
  • Industriales 4, Matanzas 3
  • Ciego de Ávila 4, Industriales 1

[edit] All-Star Game

The Juego de las Estrellas (All-Star Game) was held at Estadio Victoria de Girón in Matanzas, Matanzas on February 19, 2012. The Orientales won another close match, 8-7. The winning pitcher was Pablo Fernández, Yoelkis Cruz got the save and Yadier Pedroso took the loss. Yosvany Alarcón and Reutilio Hurtado both homered for the winners, while Yeison Pacheco drove in the winner with a double.

[edit] Leaders

Bold indicates either wooden bat record or aluminum bat record (1976-1977 to 1998-1999), Italics indicate Serie Nacional record

[edit] Batting

Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Batting Average Jose Dariel Abreu Cienfuegos .394
Runs Scored Guillermo Heredia Matanzas 91
Base Hits Yordanis Samón Granma 133
Doubles Rusney Castillo Ciego de Ávila 28
Triples Lázaro Rodríguez Cienfuegos 11
Home Runs Alfredo Despaigne Granma 36
Runs Batted In Alfredo Despaigne Granma 105
Base-on-Balls Alfredo Despaigne Granma 91
Intentional Base-on-Balls Jose Dariel Abreu Cienfuegos 33
Hit-by-Pitch Jose Dariel Abreu Cienfuegos 22
Strikeouts Edilse Silva Santiago de Cuba 71
Sacrifice Hit Dainier Gálvez Isla de la Juventud 19
Sacrifice Fly Isaac Martínez Ciego de Ávila 10
Stolen Bases Lázaro Rodríguez Cienfuegos 29

[edit] Pitching

Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Wins Ismel Jiménez Sancti Spíritus 17
Win-Loss Percentage Alain Sánchez Villa Clara 12-3
Earned Run Average Pablo Fernández Holguín 1.52 95 IP
Innings Pitched Ismel Jiménez Sancti Spíritus 185
Games Pitched Yadir Rabi Ciego de Ávila 46
Games Started Yosvani Torres Pinar del Rio 26
Games Relieved Yadir Rabi Ciego de Ávila 44
Complete Games Vladimir García Ciego de Ávila 11
Shutouts Yosvani Torres Pinar del Rio 5
Hits Allowed Yosvani Torres Pinar del Rio 183
Strikeouts Yadier Pedroso
Odrisamer Despaigne
Artemisa
Industriales
128
Base-on-Balls Wilber Pérez Isla de la Juventud 89
Intentional Base-on-Balls Jesús Guerra Jr. Pinar del Rio 18
Hit Batters Frank Navarro Guantánamo 31
Saves Danni Aguilera Isla de la Juventud 27

[edit] Award Winners

The Most Valuable Player (Jugadores más Valiosos) was Alfredo Despaigne of Granma. Carlos Juan Viera of Las Tunas was the Series' Rookie of the Year (Novatos del Año). Vladimir García was named Postseason MVP.

All-Stars were C Yosvany Alarcón (Las Tunas), 1B Jose Dariel Abreu(Cienfuegos), 2B Héctor Olivera Jr. (Santiago de Cuba), SS Yordan Manduley (Holguín), 3B Yulieski Gourriel (Sancti Spiritus), OF Alfredo Despaigne (Granma), OF Guillermo Heredia Jr. (Matanzas), OF Rusney Castillo (Ciego de Ávila), DH Serguey Pérez (Industriales), UT José Miguel Fernández (Matanzas), RHP Vladimir García (Ciego de Ávila), LHP Leandro Martínez (Granma) and RP Pablo Fernández (Holguín).

Gold Glove awards went to C Danger Guerrero (Mayabeque), 1B Yoennis Southerán (Guantanamo), 2B Andy Ibáñez (Isla de la Juventud), SS Yordan Manduley (Holguín), 3B Raúl González (Ciego de Ávila), OF Yuniet Flores (Villa Clara), OF Guillermo Heredia Jr. (Matanzas), OF Rusney Castillo (Ciego de Ávila) and P Alberto Soto (Granma).

[edit] References

  1. http://www.radiohc.cu/ing/news/sports/3948-the-51st-cuban-baseball-championship-begins-on-sunday.html
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