The third week of the Spanish Baseball League was the most disputed of the season. Although it is clear that Viladecans, Tenerife, and Valencia are on another level from the rest of circuit, the middle and lower part of the standings shows much more competitive balance. Six teams are separated by only a single win in the four-to-nine spots, with Gavá’s double victory against Sant Boi and Rivas’ first victory this season narrowing the gap from top to bottom. Meanwhile, the big three all recorded convincing sweeps yet again, with Valencia’s Astros continuing to look untouchable and the Marlins and Decans continuing to post crooked numbers on the scoreboard, with the Tenerife pair of Yancarlo Franco and Jesús Ustariz each launching grand slams in the first game of a doubleheader and three-run homers in the nightcap.
Valencia vs. Miralbueno (14-1, 15-0)
In the first game of the weekend, Los Astros continued the club’s relentless pace. A strong performance on the mound (5IP, 6H, 2K) by Spanish international Ricardo Hernández (1-0) and Yulman Ribeiro (2IP, 1H, 2K) left the Zaragozans almost without options.
A single unearned run in the second meant Miralbueno took a 3-1 deficit into the bottom of the third. However, in the bottom of the frame, Valencia took advantage of two defensive errors by Miralbueno and the hits of Blake Ochoa and Sandel Cuevas (who was 3-for-3). From there, the pace was constant, scoring four runs in the third inning, four in the fourth, one in the fifth and two in the sixth that left the game 14 to 1 and sentenced the match to an early finish in the seventh inning.
The second meeting between the sides had a very similar tone to the first. With even more complete pitching than in the first game, the Zaragozan hitters failed to score a run against either Yosbany Torres (1-0) or Lowin Sacramento.
A double by Emmanuel Febles, another double by Michel Rodríguez, a single by the red-hot Edison Valerio, an error, and several walks allowed the Valencians to finish the first frame up four runs to zero. After that, the batting rhythm by the Astros was constant, scoring two more runs in the second, another in the third, three more in the fourth, three in the fifth, and two in the sixth. The 15-0 final made for a sixth-straight Astros game ended by mercy rule. Febles was 3-for-4 with a pair of two-baggers, scoring three runs, while Rodríguez also had two doubles.
Tenerife vs. Navarra (12-2, 18-6)
At Puerto de la Cruz Stadium, the Tenerife Marlins continued with their usual sweep of a doubleheader. However, Navarra did not make it easy for them and the first four frames of each end of the twinbill were exciting. After Luis Rodríguez homered for Tenerife in the first frame of the opener, the game picked up pace, with Reinaldo Rodríguez and Eduardo Miliani swapping zeroes.
In the fifth, Eduardo Rivas tied the game at one on a solo shot of his own, but in the bottom of the frame, Rodríguez (0-3) walked the bases loaded before giving up a grand slam to Yancarlo Franco as part of a five-run inning. After Navarra’s Ander Albes knocked a solo shot in the sixth, Tenerife’s experienced lineup posted another five runs in the seventh on back-to-back walks, a single, another freebie, and a grand slam by SBL and División de Honor legend Jesús Ustariz. Miliani (1-0) struck out 10 in only five innings, permitting only Rivas’ dinger and a single. Antonio Noguera (SV, 1) added another five Ks in three frames.
The rubber match of the doubleheader had a different feel. Ustariz ripped a two-run homer in the first and Franco bashed a three-run shot in second, but with the Marlins up 6-0, the Navarran hitters immediately replied with four hits and three runs. Gabriel Lino drove in two on a round-tripper in the fourth, but a solo homer by David Arza in the Navarran half of the inning and another longball by Rivas added two more in the fifth and whittled Tenerife’s lead to 8-6. An upset was not to be, however, as Lesther Galván knocked a three-run homer and Joel Borges stroked his own solo shot in a five-run sixth. A bases-loaded walk to Borges and a grand slam by Ricardo Mendoza added another five in the seventh and the game ended 18-6.
The game featured eight home runs among 23 hits, and Navarran pitching walked seven and hit five, a day after nine hits, 10 base on balls, and a single plunking. Ustariz and Franco each had five hits and seven RBI during the twinbill.
Barcelona vs. Viladecans (1-4, 7-17)
Game One started better for Barça. In the first inning, Brhayan Betancour (0-2) started with a one-two-three inning. The first three batters for Barcelona reached base, with a walk for Alfonso Salcedo, a hit by Jostin Castillo to left field, and another by Reinier Torres to right. However, Spanish national teamer Jorge Balboa wiggled out of the jam, and the Barcelonans only scored on a sacrifice fly by Wander Encarnación.
In the second inning, everything changed and Viladecans hit the ground running with a succession of walks and a double by Maddiel Pérez. That wildness was costly for Barcelona as it led to four runs. From the second inning onwards, it was a highly contested match, with good pitching and several hits by both teams, which appeared to be almost equal forces. Jostin Castillo did his best to put Barcelona in a good position with a 4-for-4 game, but Decans’ Balboa (3-0) permitted only one other hit and struck out 11. Pérez and Roger Porcar had two hits to support him.
The second game started well for Barça, which in the first inning was active at the plate with one-base hits from Wander Encarnación and Reinier Torres setting up Cristopher Nuñez’ three-run triple. However, a dropped fly ball and a marker by Pérez meant Viladecans equalled the four-run inning in the second.
It appeared that Barcelona might just hit its way to victory with a three-run third, but the 7-4 lead evaporated almost immediately in the bottom of the frame. Their Catalonian opponent went single, walk, single, walk before another Barça miscue led to a second run. Three more hits and another free pass gave Viladecans an eight-run inning, and from this point it coasted to a 17-7 win in seven.
The Chicago Cubs’ Frank Hernandez was 4-for-4 and finished a homer short of the cycle, walking twice as well. Javier Monzon had three hits, including a double, and drew a pair of free passes, while Adriá Foz stroked the game’s only roundtripper and was one of three other Decans players with a hitting brace. Alejandro Martín (1-0) was superb in relief, whiffing five in 4.2 scoreless innings, allowing only two men on base.
Rivas vs. San Inazio (3-15, 10-6)
The effectiveness at bat of the entire San Inazio team led to a drubbing of Rivas who, despite good work in the field, did not know how to stop the offensive force coming from Bizkaia. The game was complicated for the Madrilenians already by the initial frame. The Bizkaians did not forgive the four walks issued, and a double by Leopoldo Correa, a single by José Rafael Morales, and a home run by Josias Sánchez led to a 5-0 lead.
From there, it was all San Inazio, with a longball from Sánchez, who drove in six, and Correa, with eight extra base-knocks among the team’s 16 safeties. Correa had three-hit games in both matchups. The northern club also benefitted from a great start by Elio Silva (2-1), who punched out 11 in a complete game effort. Jesús Enrique Castillo and Máximo Estrada went yard for Rivas.
The second game at Cerro del Telégrafo had a very different development from the first, with Lázaro Hernández delivering an ace-like performance through the first five. Castillo created the game’s first run in the first, singling, stealing second, and then scoring on back-to-back passed balls.
Meanwhile, Hernández struck out the first four batters of the game and collected his fifth with a runner on third in the bottom of the fourth and Rivas clinging to a 2-0 lead. Hernández (1-1) tired in the sixth, but exited with a 6-3 lead and Lionel Hernández and Estrada hit back-to-back jacks in the seventh to replace two of the runs. Castillo homered in the following frame and Rivas earned a 10-6 victory, its first of the year.
Gavà vs. Sant Boi (14-4, 11-10)
The other Catalan derby of the weekend was between CBS Gavá and CBS Sant Boi, with victory in both games for Gavá’s men. It was a historic day is fulfilled for the debutants, with victories its first in the Spanish Baseball League against a long-time rival. Although Sant Boi took a 2-0 lead in the first, a three-run shot by Romero was part of a five-run third for Gavá. Antonio Romero dropped another three-run bomb in the fifth and Rivas also plated three on a home run, leading to an unassailable 13-4 lead. Gavá added an exclamation point in the eighth, walking off with a mercy rule victory.
The second game passed in a totally different way from the first. Sant Boi scored three in the first and third, before Gavà answered with two. The middle innings were scoreless, however, and Gavà was on the wrong end of a 7-2 deficit entering the seventh. San Inazio gifted Gavà with a four-run seventh that featured five free passes and only one hit. Gavà took the lead for good in the eighth with a two-run single from Eusebio Salas and then used another inning with five walks to score three. Sant Boi made it interested with a three-run ninth, but Yans Pérez (SV, 1) struck out Jiménez with a runner on third to preserve the win.
Pérez earned the win (1-0) in relief in Game One with six Ks in 3.1 shutout innings and entered with no outs and the based loaded in the ninth in Game Two. His gutsy effort meant Gavà starter Miguel Ángel Múñoz earned the rare win (1-0) of a pitcher that walked 11 in eight frames, threw two wild pitches, hit a better, and balked, though he did punch out 10. The game featured 29 freebies and five errant throws.
Toros vs. Antorcha (11-1, 10-14)
CBS Antorcha traveled to El Soto de Burlada to play against CBS Toros in a match that the Pamplona team dominated from start to finish. The game started well for Los Toros with a home run from its leadoff hitter Yorking Céspedes. In the fourth, Torch opened the floodgates with a home run by Alex Alfonso to left field for an 8-1 advantage, and Elvis Gómez (2-1) was more than up to the task of making the lead hold. He allowed only two hits, recording nine Ks and five walks, and Cespedes ensured the game would end early with a solo shot in the seventh for the 11-1 win. Edgar Rondón was 4-for-4 with two doubles for the victors.
In the second game, CBS Antorcha managed to compensate for its defeat in Game One with a relentless start to the game, with the first five innings resulting in three, five, one, two, and three runs. J. Sánchez knocked in two in the first on a round-tripper and finished 2-for-3 with three walks, two of them intentional. M. Vargas collected four free passes and a single, crossing home four times. The Valencian side did commit three errors, meaning that only three of the 10 runs allowed by starter Engelbert Álvarez (1-1) were earned. The Toros out-hit Antorcha 13-to-10, but gave up a whopping 17 walks, while also recording 19 strikeouts (nine by Okaury Montero in 4.1 relief frames).
Week 3 Results (April 24-25)
Valencia 14 – Zaragoza 1 (7)
Zaragoza 0 – Valencia 15 (7)
Barcelona 1 – Viladecans 4
Viladecans 17 – Barcelona 7 (7)
Rivas 3 – San Inazio 15 (7)
San Inazio 6 – Rivas 10
Gavà 14 – Sant Boi 4 (7)
Sant Boi 10 – Gavà 11
Tenerife 12 – Navarra 2 (7)
Navarra 6 – Tenerife 18 (7)
Toros 11 – Antorcha 1 (7)
Antorcha 14 – Toros 10
Many thanks to RFEBS for providing a weekly recap, portions of which have been translated and adapted herein.