By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 21 — Cuba reversed a 7-5 deficit in the bottom of the tenth inning to defeat Puerto Rico 8-7 in Pan American Games baseball on Friday.

Box score

With the win the Cubans finished undefeated in the first round of play and await their opponents on Monday Oct. 24 in the semifinals against either the USA or Mexico.  Puerto Rico (0-3) has no chance for a medal.

Just as the day before against Venezuela, Cuba took a formidable lead early on with a four-run third inning after having blown bases loaded opportunities in the first and second.

Starting pitcher Miguel Lahera was dominant and cruising along until he lost his control in the top of the fifth.  He left still up 5-1 but with the bases loaded and nobody out.

Dalier Hinojosa came in and couldn’t have done much poorer, allowing all three base runners to score and one more to tie the game.  Norberto Gonzalez got the call and immediately forced a double play on a grounder to the pitcher to home to first end the inning.

Rusney Castillo’s three-run double in the third had put Cuba in a comfortable position. Alfredo Despaigne had two hits and drove in two.  José Dariel Abreu also had two RBIs including the winning walkoff run on a long fly to deep left.

Reserve catcher Yosvanny Alarcon had three of Cuba’s 13 hits. Shortstop Arruabarruena and second baseman Yulieski Gourriel batted two each.  All of Cuba’s starters except Frederich Cepeda had at least on hit.

The Puerto Ricans had 10 hits and 8 walks off Cuba’s pitching led by the 3-4-5 hitters. Hiram Bocachica who had a hit, received four walks and drove in two runs; Cesar Crespo, one hit, three walks, 2 RBIs and Jesus Feliciano, on two hits and two RBIs.

Reliever Jose de la Torre (2.2 innings, 1 earned run) took the loss for Puerto Rico. Vicyohandri Odelin, the last of five Cuban hurlers, got the win, despite having allowed two unearned runs in the top of the tenth (the two automatic runners placed on first and second under the IBAF rules to avoid prolonged extra inning games).

In other games on Friday:

Mexico 3 Dominican Republic 2

USA 11 Panama 0

Standings including Friday’s games

Group A: USA 2-0, Mexico 2-0 , Dominican Republic 0-2, Panama 0-2

Group B: Cuba 3-0, Canada 1-1, Venezuela 1-1, Puerto Rico 0-3

Games on Saturday:

Group A: USA vs. Mexico and Panama vs. Dominican Republic

Group B: Canada vs. Venezuela

See the medal standings for the Guadalajara 2011 Pan American Games


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