Jan Hernández and the Giants leave the Indians on the field with a victory in the ninth inning

Jan Hernández drove in two runs in the bottom of the ninth inning as the Carolina Giants earned a dramatic 5-4 victory over the Indios de Mayagüez on Friday in Game 3 of the winter ball final at Roberto Clemente Walker Stadium.

Carolina, in its first final since 2007, prevented a new robbery from the tribe in its park to lead, for the first time, the series 2-1 with the fourth game to be held on Saturday starting at 7:15 pm at the Stadium Isidoro “Cholo” Garcia, where the Giants won 6-4 last Wednesday.

The Giants saved their best for the late inning to recover from some costly blunders early in the game.

Closer Branden Webb, who excelled as a starter during the regular season, caused drama by leading off the ninth inning, giving Anderson Feliz a free walk. The quisquyano left for the pinch runner Yan Contreras.

José Sermo raised the emotions with a hit for the first inning to put runners on the corners. With no outs, Contreras took a risk looking to tie the game after contact from Alexis Pantoja to the box and the bet did not come out when he was taken out.

The next turn was Hernández, who did not disappoint the fans present with a long drive to left field that Henry Ramos could not catch. Aldemar Burgos, running for Sermo, scored and Pantoja overcame Roberto “Bebo” Pérez’s glove at the plate to arrive still, the referee’s song that began the celebration of the Giants on the field.

“Webb, one of the best pitchers in the league. He basically attacked us with fastballs. I was waiting for my pitch. He put the pitch in the zone for me to swing and at least bring in the tying run. He gave himself to us and we were able to win the game too ”, Hernández expressed after the game.

It was a double celebration since, before starting the game, the Carolina driver Edwards Guzmán received the Manager of the Year trophy.

Webb took the loss, while Chris Nunn picked up the win after recording two outs in the top of the ninth.

Before getting away with it, the Giants suffered from their infield mistakes.

With one out in the second, Danny Ortiz came to first with a line drive to left field. Carolina looked to create a double play with an infield shot by Henry Ramos that second baseman Anderson Feliz missed to get the out at second.

The Giants sinned again, this time at the hands of veteran third baseman Ozzie Martinez, who missed handling a ground ball connected by Blaine Crim for Ortiz to score the first run for the visitors.

Mayagüez extended the lead in the third inning by scoring three times. Richie Palacios led off the session with a single to left field, followed by a pitch to Chavez Young. Emmanuel Rivera followed with a long stick to left field that hit the wall to bring Palacios home.

With runners on second and third, Feliz’s concentration faltered again. The Dominican got stuck on a grounder by Josh Palacios, unable to get an out for Young to come home safe and put the Indians’ third run on the scoreboard.

Ortiz took advantage of the locals’ bad moment for his second hit of the night, a hit to left field that drove in Rivera.

“It was an unforgettable game, a crazy game”, Guzman reacted.

“When you see a team of us, who don’t usually fail defensively, not in fielding, but mentally… Normally, we are a good team and the mistakes were more mental than technical. What I can say is that they did not put their heads down and never let go, regardless of the score. We kept putting pressure on and that was the good thing in the dugout, that they weren’t exhausted”, added.

Indians starter Robe Whale kept Carolina’s bats off until the sixth inning, when he gave up a hit to Delvin Perez before walking Bryan Torres with no outs. The Mayagüezan leader Mako Oliveras saw enough and relieved Whale with Dereck Rodríguez.

Rodríguez was early by Brian Navarreto with a long double to left-center field that drove in the Giants’ first run.

With the local fans awake, Rodríguez was able to strike out the batting champion Rubén Castro but the same luck did not run against Gabriel Cancel. First base grounded into center field to drive in Torres and Navarreto, a hit that blew up Clemente Walker as the Giants closed within 4-3.

It was the trigger for Oliveras to remove Rodríguez and replace him with Carlos Francisco. The right-hander was able to strike out José Sermo and Martínez to end the Giants’ threat.

Francisco completed 1.2 hitless innings, as did Endrys Briceno in the eighth.

Giants starter Eduardo Rivera finished in a decision with a five-hit, three-run, five-inning slog with three strikeouts. Reliever pitchers Oddy Núñez, José Cruz and Nunn held off the Indians’ offense before the wild win.

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