Cuba-USA Finals Preview Thursday

By Circles Robinson

HAVANA TMES, Sept. 23 – The final game of the 2009 World Cup that most Cubans want to see would be a rematch between their squad and the 2007 champion team USA that defeated them.

On Thursday the two group leaders meet in a third round game that will possibly get repeated on Sunday for the title.

With two games left to play Cuba leads Group 1 with a 4-1 record (10-1 overall) ahead of The Netherlands (3-2), Puerto Rico (2-3) -which dealt Cuba its only loss- and dissapointing Venezuela (0-5).

In Group 2, the US is undefeated 5-0 (10-1 overall) followed by Canada (3-2), Australia (2-3) -which lost a tough pitching duel to Cuba by a score of 2-1 on Monday-  and Chinese Taipei (1-4) shut out by Cuba on Tuesday.

Cuba Blanks Chinese Taipei

Cuba used power hitting and hermetic pitching to shut out Chinese Taipei 8-0 on Tuesday evening in Italy where the final round of the 2009 World Cup Baseball Tournament takes places.

Back-to-back homers by Frederich Cepeda, with one on, and Alfredo Despaigne, gave Cuba a 3-0 lead in the first inning.  First baseman Ariel Borrero blasted a two-run homer in the fifth and Despaigne ended the scoring with a solo shot, his second of the evening, leading off the seventh.

Miguel Angel Gonzalez pitched another stellar performance, winning his third game without a loss in the World Cup. Gonzalez allowed only three hits and a walk over seven innings and struck out eight.  Jonder Martinez came on to pitch the final two innings giving up two hits and striking out one, while needing only 19 pitches to get the final six outs.

Chia-Chun Tang took the loss for Chinese Taipei giving up five earned runs in 3.1 innings.

Other Games on Tuesday

In the three other games on Tuesday, the United States blanked Puerto Rico 3-0, identical score to the Puerto Ricans loss to Canada a day earlier.  Australia got by The Netherlands by a score of 5-2 and Canada routed Venezuela 9-2.  See Box Scores.