By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Sept. 27 – Veteran pitchers, starter Norge Luis Vera and reliever Pedro Luis Lazo, were victims of costly errors on Sunday and the USA defeated Cuba 10-5 to repeat as the champs at the World Cup Baseball tournament.
Cuba was playing catch up from the second inning when a hit and a costly error by second baseman Hector Olivera was followed by a homer by Lucas May (C) that put the US ahead 3-0.
With starter Norge Luis Vera continuing to pitch well, Cuba chipped away at the lead scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth on singles by Michel Enriquez (DH), Alfredo Despaigne (RF) and Frederich Cepeda (LF), a sacrifice fly by Yulieski Gourriel (3B) and a hit by catcher Ariel Pestano (C.
The US took a 4-2 lead in the top of the fifth on a solo homer by Ted Hulett (2B) the number nine batter in the lineup.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, Cepeda singled and Ariel Borrero (1B) homered to tie the score, as cheers could be heard from coast to coast in Cuba.
But the smiles didn’t last long.
In the top of the seventh inning and with two out, the young Team USA players took advantage of an error by first baseman Ariel Borrero to ruin what should be the final World Cup appearance by veteran Pedro Luis Lazo, who came on to relieve Vera with two on and two out.
Five more consecutive hits -two against Lazo and three against Miguel Gonzalez- then broke open the game and put the US ahead 10-4.
Cuba got one more run in the eighth on the 11th home run of the tournament by Alfredo Despaigne to put the game at 10-5.
Then with Freddy Alvarez retiring the US without a run in the top of the ninth, Cuba had one more threat in their last turn at bat.
Two hits, a fielder’s choice and a walk loaded the bases with two out. Up stepped Despaigne against a new reliever, Nate Field. On the first pitch Despaigne hit a long fly to left but it was caught by the US outfielder on the warning track.
Final score US 10, Cuba 5.
Canada defeated Puerto Rico on Saturday to finish in third place.