HAVANA TIMES, March 11 — Pinch hitter Yosvani Peraza stepped into the batters box with Cuba down 4-3 and two out in the top of the eighth inning against Australia late Tuesday. Yulieski Gourriel was on first having led off the inning with a single.
With one swing the game was suddenly 5-4 Cuba and Ismel Jimenez pitched 2.2 innings of superb relief to give Cuba a big win over a tough opponent, and a ticket to the second round of the World Baseball Classic in San Diego.
Cuba will play one more first round game on Thursday against the winner of the Mexico-Australia game on Wednesday. However, that game will be without pressure as both teams will have already qualified for the next round of double elimination play.
Cuba’s scoring came on an RBI single by Frederich Cepeda in the third; a solo homer by Yoennis Cespedes in the Sixth; an RBI double by Michel Enriquez in the seventh, and Peraza’s game winning blast in the eighth.
Australia battled back from being behind 1-0 and 2-1 to take a 4-2 lead with a three-run sixth off of Norberto Gonzalez and Pedro Luis Lazo. Danny Betancourt finally put the fire out for Cuba.
Both starters Aroldis Chapman for Cuba and Travis Blackley for Australia were extremely effective both giving up only one run, Chapman in 4 innings and striking out 7 and Blackley lasted part way through the sixth before reaching the 70-pitch limit.
HOLLAND SINKS DOMINICANS
In other World Baseball Classic action on Tuesday, The Netherlands pulled off the greatest surprise of the tournament by defeating the Dominican Republic for the second time eliminating them from the tournament.
The game was 0-0 into the top of the 11th inning when the Dominicans got on the scoreboard. But the celebration didn’t last long as their European rivals scored twice in the bottom of the inning to send the Caribbean squad packing for home instead of Florida.
Venezuela won their game 10-1 eliminating Italy, and joining Team USA, Puerto Rico and The Netherlands in their group’s second round play in Miami.
Cuba will be facing South Korea, Japan and either Mexico or Australia in their round two competition to begin on Sunday March 15 in San Diego, California.
For on the scene coverage of Team Cuba at the Classic stay tuned to Peter C. Bjarkman’s Havana Times WBC Diary at: http://havanatimes.org/?p=5062
For an inning-by-inning play-by-play of the Cuba-Australia game: http://www.baseballdecuba.com/WBCnewsContainer.asp?id=1340