By Aliet Arzola
The Indios de Guantánamo are probably one of the teams with the least media attention in Cuban baseball since they became a National Series team, over 40 years ago. Perhaps that is the reason why when we refer to the players of the teams with the most players with three-homer games we don’t think the farthest eastern Cuban province would be included. Big mistake.
Guantánamo turns out to be ranked fourth among the teams with most three-home run games by a player, after Pedro Pablo Revilla hit three balls out of the park in the first game of a double header against the Cocodrilos de Matanzas.
In his local ballpark, Estadio Nguyen Van Troi, the Guantánamo cleanup hitter literally destroyed his opponents, who couldn’t get him out in four trips to the plate. In his first at bat, Revilla hit a long solo shot to left field off Noelvis Entenza, who was tagged with six hits and five runs in 2.1 frames.
In his next at bat, with a runner on and one out, Entenza couldn’t get him either, and the slugger hit another ball beyond the left field wall, which vaulted him to become one of the most exciting players this season.
But his parade didn’t just end there. In the next inning, against reliever Camilo Deulofeu, Revilla hit an opposite field two-run shot. By then, his team was already crushing the opponents, his five RBIs being very useful to the cause.
He had another at bat in the game–a seven-inning contest as it was part of the double header–, but reliever Denis Quesada wouldn’t want to have anything to do with him, and walked him after hitting Robert Luis Delgado with a pitch.
After this, Revilla is the new home run leader with 17, edging Ciego de Ávila’s Alfredo Fádraga (17) and Santiago de Cuba’s Yoelkis Guibert (14). Besides, he became the tenth player from Guantánamo to hit three or more homers in a single game, only behind Matanzas (12), Santiago de Cuba (11) and Industriales (11).
There are 150 times a player has hit three or more homeruns in a game in National Series, Selective Series, Revolution Cups and Super Leagues. The all-time leader is Orestes Kindelán, who did it seven times (six times with aluminum bats and once with wood bats).
The count of players from Guantánamo was opened by Enrique Preval almost 30 years ago, on January 14, 1993, when he hit three baseballs out of the ballpark against Santiago de Cuba in Estadio América Libre, in the municipality of Contramaestre.
Preval had just hit 17 career homers and three in the 32nd National Series, but he had a spectacular afternoon against his rivals. In the very first inning, right after a homer by Agustín Lescaille, the fifth batter and left fielder also homered to center against Santiago’s starter, Ismael Duharte.
In the fifth inning, against reliever Wilson Hawthorne, Preval hit another solo shot to right, to put the game 8-0. On top of it all, he hit another one against reliever Jorge Tissert, with two men on, to make it 12-0. After these three home runs, he never homered again in Cuban tournaments.
We hereby show a list of the three-homer games by Guantánamo’s hitters in history:
Leonel Bueno (35 Series/ November 29, 1995 vs. Camagüey)
These three homers were against righty Teófilo Pérez, in the ballpark of Central Costa Rica, in the municipality of El Salvador. Bueno was literally on fire by then, as he homered seven times in nine days, from November 20 to November 29.
Evelio Labañino (35 Series/ February 3, 1996 vs. Granma)
In Estadio Francisco Salcedo of Media Luna, a young Ciro Silvino Licea was the victim of Labañino’s first two homers. He would end up in spectacular fashion, with a grand slam in the ninth inning against reliever Miguel Águila. The curious fact is that he homered the next game against Salatiel Fonseca. He was in such a roll that he ended up driving in 11 runs in those two games.
Ariel Benavides (38 Series/ December 24, 1998 vs. Granma)
Estadio Municipal Niceto Pérez, in Guantánamo, was the scene of these three homers by Benavides, third all-time in round-trippers among Guantánamo players. Granma’s hurlers Misael López, Manuel Vega and Orestes Martínez allowed a homer apiece, and Benavides ended up hitting 17 that season.
Joel Martínez (40 Series/ March 31, 2001 vs. Holguín)
Once again in Estadio Municipal Niceto Pérez, a player from Guantánamo hit three baseballs out of the ballpark. With only 20 home runs in a seven-year career, Martínez became a slugger that afternoon against Holguín’s pitchers Juan Carlos Batista, Dimitri Camareno and Yoanis Dubois. Martínez hit 12 that year and ended his career with 47.
Yoennis Southeran (43 Series/ February 29, 2004 vs. La Habana)
In a leap year, Southeran started the season with a two-home run game against Matanzas, but on leap day he reached another level by hitting three homers against Habana’s southpaw Yulieski González, who only allowed eight homers that season against the over 500 batters he faced.
Kenen Bailly (48 Series/ February 23, 2008 vs. Metropolitanos)
The lefty slugger became one of the most promising names after the 2007-08 campaign, when he ended with a 1.111 OPS, 42 extra-base hits, 14 homers and 60 RBI in 79 games. The following year he continued to be a consistent hitter and by the end of the season he hit three homers against Matanzas pitchers Yoanner Negrín (two) and Yousef Aguilar. That season, he had managed two homers in a game against the very great Pedro Luis Lazo. Bailly left Cuba in 2010, and managed to sign with the Toronto Blue Jays, but never made it out of the Minors.
Robert Luis Delgado (48 Series/ April 23, 2009 vs. Metropolitanos)
Delgado hit five home runs in the 48th Series, and they all took place in a week. From April 23 to April 29, it was very complicated to face him, as he managed 14 hits (seven extra bases) and drove in 16 runs over six games. Against Metropolitanos, he homered off Yohandri Portal and Roberto Rodríguez (twice), and drove in ten runs while scoring four.
Andrés de la Cruz (55 Series/ October 26, 2015 vs. Santiago de Cuba)
Six years and a had had passed for a player from Guantánamo to homer three times in a game until Pedro Pablo Revilla’s performance this Sunday. The previous case was starred by Andrés de la Cruz, who drive in seven runs and hit three round-trippers against two Santiago’s hurlers: the recently deceased Ulfrido García (twice) and Yubisley Portales.