2001-2002 Cuban National League

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The 2001-2002 season was the forty-first season of Cuba's national baseball system.

Serie Nacional[edit]

The 41st Serie Nacional was won by Holguín, who were managed by Héctor Hernández. The team won in the playoff finals against Sancti Spíritus, four games to three. The Serie Nacional was followed by a 27-game super-provincial series in the summer called the Súper Liga, featuring four teams.

The Zona Occidental was dominated by Pinar del Río, who were led by returning former national team manager Jorge Fuentes and had the league's best record at 64 – 26. The zona's surprise was Sancti Spíritus, which went from seven games under .500 in last year's serie, to winning the Grupo B by a single game over Industriales. Rounding out the playoff teams was second seed Isla de la Juventud. The Sancti Spíritus-Isla de la Juventud went the full five games, with the surprise team emerging victorious, while Pinar del Río rolled over Industriales. Sancti Spíritus then defeated Pinar del Río 4 games to 2 to advance to the finals.

In the Zona Oriental, the top three teams (Holguín, Villa Clara, Santiago de Cuba) were all within a game of each other and .600, while four-ranked Camagüey finished a game under .500. Holguín edged three-time defending champion Santiago de Cuba by one game to win Grupo C and gained the first seed. They then beat Camagüey in their semifinals matchup and Villa Clara (who had defeated Santiago de Cuba) to reach the finals.

Sancti Spíritus was led by a trio of young pitchers – Yovani Aragón, 27 years old; Ifreidi Coss, 18 years old; and Maels Rodríguez, 22 years old. Rodríguez was the ace sporting a 14 – 3 win-loss record, 2.13 ERA and a league leading 219 strikeouts and 85 base-on-balls. Ifreidi Coss was 10 – 3 in the regular season with 1.94 earned run average and 87/26 K/BB ratio in his rookie season. Aragón went 12 – 8, had a 3.46 ERA while striking out 129 and walking 46. The team's top batters were Frederich Cepeda whose .378 batting average was fourth in the league and who hit 10 home runs; Eriel Sánchez, who also hit 10 round-trippers; and Yulieski Gourriel who hit 26 doubles. Other batters included Yunier Mendoza, as well as Lourdes Gourriel's brother Luis Enrique and son Yuniesky.

Unlike Sancti Spíritus, Holguín had little star power or spectacular players. The team's top two pitchers were Orelvis Avila who went 14 – 7 with a 2.87 ERA, 74 strikeouts, and 58 walks, while Luis Miguel Rodriguez was 13 – 6 with 119 opposing batters struck out, 30 walks, and a 2.94 earned run average. Waldo Denis was by far the team's best hitter with a .366 average and a team-leading 9 home runs, designated hitter Luis Rodríguez Williams sported a .341 average with 23 doubles, while Juan Rondón hit .332, third on the team.

The final series between Sancti Spíritus and Holguín went the full seven games. In the first game at Estadio Calixto García Íñiguez Sancti Spíritus's Ifreidi Coss threw a 6 – 0 shutout of the home team. The second game was a slugfest as Holguín scored four runs in the first knocking out Sancti Spíritus starter Ramón Licor and reliever Noelvis Hernández. In the third, the visitors responded with five runs, forcing Oscar Gil and Félix Borbón to leave the game. Holguín responded with six runs over the next four innings while Juan E. Pérez and Orelvis Avila shutdown Sancti Spíritus. In the top of the ninth – down 10 to 5 – Sancti Spíritus scored five runs on four hits, a walk and an error. The game went into extra innings, and in the bottom of the twelfth, Oscar del Rosario got a single, was moved to second base by Gabriel Rojas sacrifice and scored on a Yoanis Quintana hit to center field.

The series then moved to Estadio José Antonio Huelga for the middle set of games. Holguín went up 2 to 1 with a 4 – 3 win despite a complete game by Sancti Spíritus's Yovani Aragón and then won the fourth game 5 – 2 to move one game away for the team's first title. Ifreidi Coss threw another shutout in game five, 5 – 0 with Holguín's Orelvis Avila getting pulled before recording a single out, and Juan E. Pérez coming in on relief and finishing the game. Game six, back in Holguín, was won by Sancti Spíritus 4 – 2. The game was 4 – 0 until the bottom of the ninth when Juan Pacheco hit a two-run home run off Yovani Aragón. Maels Rodríguez then came in and struck out the side.

Game seven saw the 18-year old Ifreidi Coss taking the mound for Sancti Spíritus against the 26-year old Orelvis Avila for Holguín. Coss pitched three innings but was pulled for Maels Rodríguez after giving up an Ernesto Martínez home run to lead off the fourth. Holguín added another run in the fifth on a Juan Rondón double and Waldo Denis single. Avila took a shutout into the ninth, and was one out from completing the game when he gave up a hit to Ixis Valle. Pinch-hitter Reinier Yero then hit a double moving Valle to third. Liván Monteagudo then hit a texas leaguer plating Valle and moving the tying run 90-feet from home. Oscar Gil was then brought in, he first walked Yonelky Villaspando to load the bases and bring up Frederich Cepeda – who had a postseason-leading batting average of .394. Gil struck out Cepeda to give Holguín their first title.

Osmani Urrutia of Las Tunas won his second consecutive batting title with a .408 average, 98 hits in 240 at-bats. Matanzas's Michel Abreu hit 23 home runs, top in the league; he also scored a league leading 78 runs. Teammate Juan Manrique was walked 90 times, breaking his own record of 89 from three years prior. Pinar del Río's Pedro L. Lazo is the league's leader in wins with 15 while teammate José Contreras is the ERA champ with a 1.76 Earned Run Average – 28 earned runs in 143.1 innings pitched. Fellow pinareño Orestes González breaks Duniel Ibarra's record for games pitched and relief appearances by relieving in 50 games.

Industriales' switch-hitting utility player Kendry Morales has the league's best season for a rookie. He sets rookie records for home runs with 21; runs scored, 60; runs batted in, 82; base hits, 114; extra base hits, 56; and slugging percentage, .577.

The Serie Nacional season also sees the retirement of many of the league's greats from the 1980s and 1990s. Among these are longtime Industriales shortstop Germán Mesa and pitcher Lázaro de la Torre, longtime camagüeyano Luis Ulacia, career home run leader Orestes Kindelán, all-time base hits leader Antonio Pacheco, and batting average leader Omar Linares. Linares will go on to play for the Chunichi Dragons for three seasons before retiring.


Bold indicates Zona champion; Italics indicates Serie Nacional champion

Zona Occidental[edit]

Grupo A Grupo B
Pinar del Río 90 64 26 0.711 -.- Sancti Spíritus 90 53 37 0.589 -.-
Isla de la Juventud 90 51 39 0.567 13.0 Industriales 90 49 41 0.544 4.0
Matanzas 90 48 42 0.533 16.0 La Habana 90 45 45 0.500 8.0
Metropolitanos 90 31 59 0.344 33.0 Cienfuegos 90 33 57 0.367 20.0

Zona Oriental[edit]

Grupo C Grupo D
Villa Clara 90 54 36 0.600 -.- Holguín 90 55 35 0.611 -.-
Camagüey 90 44 46 0.489 10.0 Santiago de Cuba 90 54 36 0.600 1.0
Ciego de Ávila 90 42 48 0.467 12.0 Granma 90 38 52 0.422 17.0
Las Tunas 90 23 67 0.256 31.0 Guantánamo 90 36 54 0.400 19.0


  Quarterfinals Semifinals Finals
  OCC1  Pinar del Río 3  
OCC4  Industriales 1  
  OCC1  Pinar del Río 2  
  OCC2  Sancti Spíritus 4  
OCC2  Sancti Spíritus 3
  OCC3  Isla de la Juventud 2  
    OCC2  Sancti Spíritus 3
  OTE1  Holguín 4
  OTE1  Holguín 3  
OTE4  Camagüey 1  
  OTE1  Holguín 4
  OTE3  Villa Clara 2  
OTE2  Santiago de Cuba 0
  OTE3  Villa Clara 3  

All-Star Game[edit]

The seventeenth Juego de las Estrellas (All-Star Game) was held in Holguín, Holguín on March 17, 2002. In the game, Occidentales defeated Oriente by a score of 8 to 1. Occidentales had 14 hits to Oriente's 7, while the errors were 0 to 1 in favor of Oriente. The winning pitcher was Carlos Yanes and the losing pitcher was Vladimir Hernández.


Bold indicates either wooden bat record or aluminum bat record (1976-1977 to 1998-1999), Italics indicate Serie Nacional record


Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Batting Average Osmani Urrutia Las Tunas .408 98 hits in 240 at-bats
Runs Scored Michel Abreu Matanzas 78
Base Hits Luis F. Rivera Isla de la Juventud 136
Doubles Michel Enríquez Isla de la Juventud 29
Triples Danny Miranda
Manuel Benavides
Yunieski Betancourt
Ciego de Ávila
Santiago de Cuba
Villa Clara
Home Runs Michel Abreu Matanzas 23
Runs Batted In Daniel Lazo Pinar del Río 89
Base-on-Balls Juan Manrique Matanzas 90
Intentional Base-on-Balls Ariel Borrero Villa Clara 14
Hit-by-Pitch Luis E. Piloto Isla de la Juventud 20
Strikeouts Pedro J. Rodríguez Román Cienfuegos 91
Sacrifice Hit Carlos A. Tabares Industriales 18
Sacrifice Fly Ariel Benavides
Vaisel Acosta
Yunieski Betancourt
Villa Clara
Stolen Bases Eduardo Paret Villa Clara 34


Stat Leader Team Number Notes
Wins Pedro L. Lazo Pinar del Río 15
Win-Loss Percentage Vladimir Hernández Villa Clara 0.846 11 - 2
Earned Run Average José Contreras Pinar del Río 1.76 28 ER in 143.1 IP
Innings Pitched Ciro S. Licea Granma 167.1
Games Pitched Orestes González Pinar del Río 50
Games Started Raúl Valdés La Habana 25
Games Relieved Orestes González Pinar del Río 50
Complete Games Norge L. Vera Santiago de Cuba 11
Shutouts Carlos A. Yánes
Yosvany Fonseca
Isla de la Juventud
Hits Allowed Jonder Martínez La Habana 195
Strikeouts Maels Rodríguez Sancti Spíritus 219
Base-on-Balls Maels Rodríguez Sancti Spíritus 85
Intentional Base-on-Balls Alexander Digurnay Guantánamo 10
Hit Batters Norge L. Vera Santiago de Cuba 19

Award Winners[edit]

The Most Valuable Player (Jugadores más Valiosos) was Michel Abreu, a first baseman with Matanzas. Kendry Morales of Industriales was the Series' Rookie of the Year (Novatos del Año).

Súper Liga[edit]

The first Súper Liga was won by Habaneros who defeated Centrales in the best-of-three championship series. Habaneros was managed by the Armando Johnson.


Habaneros 27 16 11 0.593 -.-
Centrales 27 16 11 0.593 -.-
Occidentales 27 12 15 0.444 4.0
Orientales 27 10 17 0.370 6.0


The Súper Liga Championship Playoff featured the first and second place teams in a best-of-three series. The second place Habaneros defeated the first place Centrales, 2 games to 1.





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