Merida, Mexico – The first-ever game of the inaugural Baseball Champions League Americas began at Kukulkan Alamo Park on Thursday with the 2022 American Association champion Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks representing the United States against the 2022 Cuban National Series champion Granma Alazanes (Alazanes de Granma).
It was a pitchers’ duel as starters Christian Young (F-M) and Erli Casanova (GRA) dominated the first three innings by not allowing a run and giving up only one hit combined. That hit was a double in the bottom of the first as Granma’s right fielder Raico Santos smashed a line drive down the left field line as no other runner reached base safely in the opening three innings of the game.
The RedHawks offense would eventually pick up in the fourth as center fielder Dillon Thomas led off with a double and became the first Red Hawks hitter to reach base in the game. Catcher Roy Morales followed with a single to advance Thomas to third base, but Casanova would retire the rest side in order, including back-to-back strikeouts, to end any scoring chance for Fargo-Moorhead in the top of the inning.
Granma would score the go-ahead run in the bottom half of the fourth as designated hitter Yordanis Samon hit a one-out single to right field. On the next pitch, Young would hit Granma catcher Yosvany Alarcon to put runners in scoring position. Then third baseman Yordany Alarcon hit an RBI single to left that scored Samon for the first run of the game and a 1-0 lead for the Alazanes.
Fargo would come back to tie the game in the top of the sixth as Roy Morales sent a pitch by Casanova over the left field wall for a solo home run that evened the game at one run a piece. Morales went 3-4 on the day (.750) and was named the ‘Visit Fargo Player of the Game’.
After pitching five solid innings, RedHawks manager Chris Coste decided make a pitching change as Grant Gavin took the mound for F-M in the bottom of the sixth. Christian Young (0-0, 1.80 ERA) would
end the day by pitching 5.0 innings and allowing four hits and an earned run with four strikeouts and no walks a no-decision in the loss.
Erli Casanova (1-0, 1.29 ERA) looked impressive for the Cuban squad as he went 7.0 innings, allowing only four hits and one run while striking out six for the win as Yanelquis Duardo took the mound for Granma in the top of the eighth. He hit shortstop Sam Dexter to lead off the inning and then gave up a one-out single by Morales that advanced Dexter to third. But the ‘Hawks scoring threat would end when Duardo got designated hitter Chris Herrmann to ground into an inning-ending double play.
Granma would increase their lead by scoring two more runs in the bottom of the eighth. Yordanis Samon hit an RBI double off of RedHawks relief pitcher Garrett Alexander that scored left fielder Raico Almedia Santos. Samon would end up on third base thanks to a Yosvany Alarcon’s single and then scored on a sacrifice fly by first baseman Guillermo Aviles as Granma goes up 3-1.
The RedHawks were down to their final three outs as Granma sent closer Juan Penalver to the mound in the top of the ninth. The reliever would load the bases with one out as he gave up two hits and a walk in a third of an inning and was quickly replaced by Alberto Civil. The RedHawks would send pinch hitter Dayson Croes to the plate as he worked the count full, then fouled off three pitches and grounded into a game-ending double play.
Fargo-Moorhead (0-1) moves on to face the tournament host Yucatán Leones (Leones de Yucatán) in round-robin play on Friday night with first pitch scheduled for 9:00 P.M. (Central) from Kukulkan Alamo Park. The game will be streamed live on aabaseball.tv for free and on Unbeaten.
Game stats can be found here: https://www.wbsc.org/en/events/2023-baseball-champions-league-americas/schedule-and-results/box-score/124951