By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES — Cuba defeated Puerto Rico 4-2 on Sunday to take the title of the Haarlem Baseball Week tournament in the Netherlands.
The hard fought game gave Cuba its fifth straight victory after having lost the first two opening round games to Puerto Rico and the USA, the same teams that fell victim to Cuba in the semifinal and final match ups.
The game’s most valuable player was clearly reliever and winning pitcher Norberto Gonzalez, who appeared in the fourth inning for starter Odrisamer Despaigne with Puerto Rico ahead by a score of 2-1. The left-hander pitched until the end going 5.1 innings allowing only one hit and striking out seven rivals.
Puerto Rico scored its two runs in the fourth off Despaigne on a double by first baseman Ortiz, a single by right fielder Rivera and on a foul fly that allowed Rivera to tag and score from third.
Cuba’s runs began with a solo homer by Frederich Cepeda leading off the second inning and an RBI single by Rusney Castillo in the fifth, which tied the score at two each.
Then a throwing error by Puerto Rico’s third baseman in the eighth allowed Yulieski Gouriel to score Cuba’s third run, followed by a single from Ariel Pestano driving in Frederich Cepeda for the fourth and final run of the game.
The losing pitcher was Puerto Rico reliever Benigno Cepeda who gave up the two unearned runs in the eighth.
Cuba had not won a tournament in Holland since 1998, having finished second five times. The USA finished third, Holland fourth, Japan fifth and Chinese Taipei sixth.
The individual tournament awards were as follows:
Best hitter: Michael Duursma (Netherlands)
Best pitcher: Marco Gonzalez (USA)
Press award: Ariel Pestano (Cuba)
Homerun king: Yoshiki Eto (Japan)
Best defensive player: D.J. Peterson (USA)
Most popular player (Carl Angelo award): Hsiao Po Ting (Chinese Taipei)
Most valuable player (Jacques Reuvers award): Yulieski Gourriel (Cuba)
Note: Cuban shortstop Aldemis Diaz, 21, abandonded the team in Holland, most likely in search of a Major League Baseball contract.