The newly rebranded and enlarged Spanish Baseball League began its 2021 season over the weekend, avoiding the four-month delay that affected its previous campaign. A dozen clubs will contest the SBL for the first time since 2007, and five of those swept their two-game opening series. All but one of the sets featured offensive explosions, with the Tenerife Marlins topping the charts with 34 runs, allowing only five, and the Chicago Cubs’ Frank Hernández impressing individually. The weekend also marked the promotions of CBS Gavà and CBS Toros, with the latter club marking its debut with a short-handed doubleheader sweep of Barcelona that featured excellent pitching on both sides. Valencia’s Astros received their 2020 championship trophy on the SBL’s new streaming service, with the cameras also turned on in Rivas (a Madrid suburb) and Navarra.
Marlins vs. San Inazio
Tenerife began its quest to regain the top spot in Spanish baseball with a commanding pair of victories over San Inazio, 12-4 [box] and 22-1 [box], the latter representing the most runs scored in a game that weekend. The Marlins finished in second place for the first time since 2016 last year, a position in which it has finished no lower than since 2012. Jony Béthencourt homered in both games, adding two doubles, and drove in 9 of the 42 runs, scoring another six. All of his hits were for extra bases. Five other Marlins knocked a ball out of the park and the team collected 17 walks and 34 hits (in 74 at bats, for a .459 average). Antonio Noguera and Leslie Nacar earned the victories.
Astros vs. Antorcha
The Astros celebrated the presentation of the 2020 División de Honor championship trophy with a dominant sweep in the first Valencia derby of the year. The new president of RFEBS (the Spanish Federation), Jesús Lisarri, presented the cup in a pre-game ceremony on Saturday, which was attended by the sports ministers of the City and Communidad of Valencia.
Roibert Decena finished a single short of the cycle in Game 1 and stroked a triple and a single in Game 2 as the Astros cruised to 12-2 [box] and 16-3 wins over Antorcha [box]. The reigning champions banged out 13 and 17 hits, with six players collecting at least three hits over the two games. Lowuin Sacramento and Yulman Ribeiro were the beneficiaries of the run support.
Navarra vs. Sant Boi
The only clubs to split their series, Sant Boi took the first game, 11-7, thanks to nine hits and a whopping 12 walks [box]. Víctor López hit a three-run jack in the contest, but his grand slam in the second game could not propel Sant Boi to another victory. Despite recording 11 safeties and another nine free passes, Sant Boi left 10 on base and squandered the 2-0 lead it held going in to the top of the eighth. The final score, incredibly, was 12-6 in Navarra’s favor, as it played five runs in the eighth and seven more in the final frame, escaping a four-run rally from the visitors (batting last) to claim the victory [box]. Héctor Escolano‘s two-run shot gave Navarra its final runs of the day, rapping a single as well, to go with a double and a single in the first matchup. His brother, Adrián Escolano, also had a pair of hits in each game, notching a brace of two-baggers.
Rivas vs. Miralbueno
Daniel Vargas mashed two dingers in the first game of the series, going yard in the fourth before tying the game with a three-run bomb in the eighth. The shortshop’s heroics propelled CBS Miralbueno to a come-from-behind win over CBS Rivas, with before Roberto Camejo singled home R. Guzmán, who had doubled with two outs. Jorge Mairal bailed out Albert Flores (3.1IP, 1ER in relief) in the bottom of the ninth, immediately inducing a double play with two on to preserve the 9-8 victory [box]. Camejo had three hits and a walk in the game.
The excitement continued in the second contest, with Rivas taking a 5-1 lead going in to the bottom of the fifth. Miralbueno then erupted for an eight-run frame, adding five more runs in the seventh and four in the penultimate inning. The final score was 20-12 in Miralbueno’s favor, easily the highest scoring game of Week 1. Moisés Grance had a grand slam and a two-run shot in the fifth and seventh, while four other players — two on each side — also left the park. Rubén Vernal went 4-for-6 with three runs for the victors. while five players logged a hat trick in the hit department, including Camejo and Vargas [box].
Gavà vs. Viladecans
It was a tough return to Spain’s top flight for CBS Gavà, which last played at the level in 1975. Its opponent was CB Viladecans, a long-time rival for the Catalonian league and cup championships and winner of 19-straight Copas del Rey (1982-2000) and five national titles. Game 1 was a slugfest from the early going, with Viladecans plating three in the top of the first and the debutants answering with four. From that point on, however, it was all Viladecans, which scored four in the second and seven in the third, coasting to a 17-7 victory in seven innings [box]. Nerves may have assisted, as Gavà surrendered nine hits and 12 walks, plunking three batters.
A day later, Viladecans picked up where it left off, allowing early runs (5-5 through three) and compiling big innings (nine in the sixth) on its way to another mercy win. The final was 16-5 [box], though Gavà knocked out its opponent’s starter after three. For the victors, Denny Niño collected hit No. 300 at Spain’s top level as part of a first game effort in which he reached base in all four at bats, twice on safeties.
If Frank Hernández, who signed in 2020 with the Cubs [link], continues at the pace he set over the weekend, the organization could have a prospect in the making. The 19-year-old was 3-for-5 with five runs, six RBI, a double, a triple, and four walks across two games for Viladecans.
There were several bright spots for Gavà. Eric Giménez, only 17 years old, was 4-for-5 with a double and a walk as the DH, while Sterlin Cuevas was 4-for-6 with a three-run dinger during the series.
Denny Niño has had 300 league hits. Photo taken by Canal Boogie / CB Viladecans.
Barcelona – Toros
The Toros might be a rookie club, but it showed veteran grit in two nail-biting wins at Barcelona. Pamplona’s Toros were undefeated in November’s promotion round and advance to the big leagues as a true Cinderella story. Only formed in 2019, the Navarran club is without its own facilities, and debuted in the competition after a long journey to Catalonia. It faced a tall order in a road assignment versus Barça, which has won 61 percent of its games in the past two years and claimed bronze in the 2020 División de Honor. Additionally, its Montjuic stadium (Carlos Pérez de Rozas) is notoriously difficult to play and Barcelona won two-thirds of games there between 2019 and 2020. However, the Toros showed no signs of intimidation in an impressive doubleheader sweep.
The opener was all Elvis Gómez, who permitted a mere two hits in seven shutout frames for the Toros, sending eight down on strikes. Okaury Montero struck out a pair himself, preserving the 3-0 clean sheet for the visitors [box]. A first-inning single by Francisco Kingsley was the difference maker, with single runs in the fifth and eighth both scoring on wild pitches. The game’s final run was set up by Montero himself, who tripled, raced home on the errant delivery, and then took his place on the mound. Brhyan Bétancourt was the hard luck loser, striking out eight in five innings with one earned run.
A two-way player once more delivered victory for the Toros in the doubleheader finale as Kingsley took the hill. He was matched up against Peter Bonilla, who would strike out 12 in seven frames and allow only one run on two hits and a pair of free passes. Kinglsey was nearly as effective, but after the seventh, the two starters turned the game over to the bullpens with Barcelona up 3-1. Four consecutive two-out freebies drew Pamploma within one and brought a pitching change. Hachel Pérez greeted the new reliever with a go-ahead two-run double and Montero once more slammed the door in the ninth.
The 4-3 result [box] meant that fewer runs were scored in the series than in any single game elsewhere in the league. That only 10 players appeared in the two contests for Pamploma likely had an affect, yet despite catching all 18 innings, Pérez laced three hits in the second game and Montero and Kingsley eached played center field and pitched. Whether this system is as effective over a whole season will be a storyline to watch on this intriguing squad.
|1||Tenerife Marlins PC||2||0||1.000||0||34||5||29||2-0-0||0-0-0||2-0-0||W2|
|2||CB Viladecans Béisbol||2||0||1.000||0||33||12||21||0-0-0||2-0-0||2-0-0||W2|
|3||CBS Miralbueno Béisbol||2||0||1.000||0||29||20||9||0-0-0||2-0-0||2-0-0||W2|
|4||CB Astros Valencia||2||0||1.000||0||28||5||23||2-0-0||0-0-0||2-0-0||W2|
|7||CBS Sant Boi Béisbol||1||1||0.500||1||17||19||-2||0-0-0||1-1-0||1-1-0||L1|
|8||CBS Rivas Béisbol||0||2||0.000||2||20||29||-9||0-2-0||0-0-0||0-2-0||L2|
April 10 CB Astros Valencia 12 – CBS Antorcha 2 (8)
April 10 Béisbol Navarra 7 – CBS Sant Boi 11
April 10 Tenerife Marlins PC 12 – San Inazio 4
April 10 CBS Rivas 8 – CBS Miralbueno 9
April 10 CB Astros Valencia 16 – CBS Antorcha 3 (7)
April 10 Béisbol Navarra 12 – CBS Sant Boi 6
April 10 CBS Rivas 12 – CBS Miralbueno 20
April 10 Tenerife Marlins PC 22 – San Inazio 1 (7)
April 10 CBS Gavà 7 – CB Viladecans 17 (7)
April 11 CBS Barcelona 0 — CBS Toros 3
April 11 CBS Gavà 5 – CB Viladecans 16 (7)
April 11 CBS Barcelona 3 — CBS Toros 4