by Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 25 — Cuba’s baseball fans were highly disappointed on Monday as their national team fell 12-10 to the United States in the semifinals of the Guadalajara Pan American Games.
It was the island’s highly regarded Cuban pitching that caved in to the US bats falling behind 12-2 in the first three and a half innings.
To their credit the Cubans did what many others wouldn’t have, battle back against tremendous odds and try to reverse the nightmare. They scored two in the fourth, two in the sixth, one in the seventh and three in the eighth to make a game of it.
The Cuban scoring was led by Rudy Reyes who had three hits and three RBIs and Frederich Cepeda, who drove in three on two hits.
However Cepeda, Cuba’s Mr. Clutch, did blow a couple golden opportunities to produce even more. Clean-up batter Despaigne 0-for-5 could have also made the difference but repeatedly left runners on base.
While starter Freddy Asiel Alvarez and relievers Yulieski Gonzalez and Jonder Martinez were totally ineffective, relievers Dalier Hinajosa (who had a rocky beginning allowing two runs but then produced three scones), Norberto Gonzalez and Alberto Sosa were able to keep the USA in check for the rest of the game, giving the offense their chance to make up ground.
The Cubans even had runners on first and second with two out in the eighth after scoring their three runs but the US reliever Scott Patterson struck out Yosvany Alarcon to end the inning.
USA reliever, Randall Williams, picked up the win while Cuban starter Freddy Asiel Alvarez took the loss, giving up the first five runs, four earned.
After showing good mound work in the World Cup earlier in the month, with a team ERA of 2.02, the Cuban staff gave up a total of 28 runs in four games in Guadalajara, sending up a red alert in Havana.
Nonetheless, the islander’s bats allowed them to go into their semifinal game undefeated.
Cuba plays Mexico on Tuesday afternoon for the bronze medal after the host team fell to Canada 5-3 also on Monday. Canada takes on the USA in the evening for the Pan American Games gold medal which had belonged to Cuba since 1963.
To watch the Cuba-Mexico game live tune into: baseballdecuba.com at 2:00 p.m. Guadalajara time.