Giants move one win away from winter baseball championship

Jan Hernández once again dressed as a hero with an RBI hit to break a tie in the sixth inning and the Carolina Giants moved one victory away from the league championship. Roberto Clemente Professional Baseball League (LBPRC) after beating the Indios de Mayagüez 4-2 on Sunday at the Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium in front of some 7,500 fans.

Carolina, up 3-2 in the series, can win its first title since 2007, and the organization’s third, on Tuesday at Estadio Isidoro “Cholo” Garcia on Tuesday with a break on Monday after three straight games.

With the loss, the Indians are on the verge of yet another disappointment in their fifth consecutive Finals failure to capture the 19th title in franchise history in consecutive appearances.

“The only positive thing is that we are not going to Mayagüez losing the series,” said Edwards Guzmán, manager for the Giants.

“Going to Mayagüez, they lost the series, would have been hard because, as I have always said, they have the tenth hitter, which is the fan base. We are going to continue game by game, ticket by ticket. We are not thinking or anticipating that we are going to win. The Indians are talented and at home they play well,” he added.

A shot by Hernández in the ninth inning of Game 4 last Friday at Carolina left the Indians at 5-4. On Sunday, he delivered the golden hit, a two-out double down the left-field line off starter Daryl Thompson, who drove in speedy Delvin Perez from first base for Carolina to put the game up 3-2.

Bryan Torres scored three of the Giants’ four runs, while Gabriel Cancel went 3 for 3. Torres also had three hits in four at-bats.

Both teams attacked aggressively and urgently in the early innings. Carolina struck first in the loss of the initial episode. Torres and Cancel had back-to-back hits off Thompson.

Torres moved to third base on a fly out by Rubén Castro and came safely to the plate after a double by Anderson Feliz.

Mayagüez countered in the second. Henry Ramos reached on a hit and Roberto “Bebo” Pérez managed a free walk. With the theft of third base, Ramos scored on Richie Palacios’ single to tie the game.

Carolina bet the bullpen early with the departure of starter Jonathan Bermúdez for José Fuentes with two outs in the second inning.

The switch of arms didn’t matter and the Indians took the lead in the third. Emmanuel Rivera was hit by a pitch and then stepped up the accelerator in running the bases to get home thanks to Danny Ortiz’s double with two outs on the board.

Carolina did not take long to tie. The pairing of Torres and Cancel attacked with two seasoned doubles against Thompson to even the score in the bottom of the third, a reaction that made Clemente Walker resound with fans waving yellow towels in support of the locals.

Thompson was able to control the Giants’ bats until the sixth before meeting with Hernandez, who took him out of the game by erasing the tie. The North American had a work of 5.2 innings with eight hits, three runs and four strikeouts to stay with the setback.

The Giants added a safety run in the seventh off reliever Carlos Francisco. Torres hit his third hit of the game and Cancel followed with a groundout to Emmanuel Rivera, who missed on a throw to first base for Torres to put third base ahead. He scored on Castro’s infield play, who forced out at second.

Game-winning relievers Ramesis Rosa and Miguel Romero allowed the Indians no hits in 2 1/2 innings. José Espada scored the rescue in the ninth. The last out was against the dangerous Emmanuel Rivera with a runner on first.

Mayagüez had a chance to take the lead in the top of the sixth with Henry Ramos on third base and one out. The outfielder hit a single; he advanced to second with a bunt by Roberto “Bebo” Pérez; and he stole the third again. Jeremy Rivera and Richie Palacios failed to bring him home.

“We had a man on third twice and couldn’t make contact. It’s game stuff. I wasn’t there to win today. Now, we are going to defend our home”, said Mako Oliveras, leader of the Indians.

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