On Sunday, the disappointed Cuban team will play for the bronze medal against Puerto Rico, which lost its semifinal game to Canada on Saturday evening.
By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES — In a repeat of the 2011 Pan American Games in Guadalajara the Cuban national team was defeated in the semifinal round on Saturday by its eternal baseball rival, the United States.
Four years ago the score was 12-10 and this time around the runs were halved to 6-5.
For six innings it looked like things were going to be different as Cuba was cruising with a 5-1 lead under the pitching of starter Yosvanny Torres and the bats of Yosvany Alarcon, Frederich Cepeda, Alexander Malleta and Raul Gonzalez.
Cepeda and González each had solo homers, Alarcon knocked in two and Malleta scored twice.
However, the seventh, considered the lucky inning, proved so but instead for Team USA. Bogusevich opened the inning with a hit to left followed by hit batter which sent Torres to the showers. With two on and no out the surprise choice by manager Machado was veteran Ismel Jimenez, who didn’t have his best control. He did manage to strike out the first batter he faced on a 3-2 count but then issued a walk to Albert Almora to load the bases for the next reliever, 19-year-old Liván Moinelo.
The left hander allowed a single to left by the leadoff hitter Jankowsky which drove in two while Almora was nailed trying to reach third for the second out. However Moinelo, who had pitched several innings on Thursday, was not at his best and he issued a walk to Parrino and got the hook.
Another 19-year old, Yunier Cano, was brought in and promptly gave up a double to the dangerous third baseman Tyler Pastorniky that cleared the bases to tie the score. Left-hander Yoanni Year then came on to get the final out.
Cuba had a good chance to go ahead in the top of the ninth after the hard throwing reliever Paul Sewald walked Yorbis Borroto and Jose Adolis García reached first on what was supposed to be only a sacrifice bunt. With two on and nobody out many thought that Raul Gonzalez would also try a sacrifice bunt but instead he was allowed a full swing and popped up to second.
Things got more complicated for the USA as Rudy Reyes reached first and loaded the bases on an error by the pitcher Sewald, who then redeemed himself by striking out cleanup hitter Alfredo Despaigne. The USA manager Tracy then went to the bull pen and brought in lefty David Huff to face Frederich Cepeda, who flied out to centerfield.
The bottom of the ninth started well for Cuba with Yera getting the first two outs and it looked like the game would go into extra innings. However Travis Jankowski laced a hit to center and stole second to put the winning run in scoring position. Andrew Parrino then hit a 3-1 pitch for a single to right that scored the runner and gave his team a 6-5 walk-off win.
Later in the evening, Canada, the team with the best record (6-1) and the defending Pan American champion, defeated Puerto Rico by a score of 7-1 in the other semifinal match up.
On Sunday, Cuba plays Puerto Rico at 1:05 p.m. (ET) for the bronze medal followed by the title game between the USA and Canada at 7:05 p.m.