By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 11 — Cuba pounded out 17 hits including the game winning double by Jose Dariel Abreu in the seventh inning to defeat Team USA, the defending World Cup Champions, by a score of 8-7 on Tuesday evening in Panama.
Yadier Pedroso came on to pitch a strong final three innings (seven strikeouts) to preserve the hard fought victory that almost slipped through Cuba’s hands.
The win in their first game of Round Two was the Cubans eighth straight in the tournament. Under the 2011 World Cup rules, which only count the games against the second round qualifying teams, Cuba is now 4-0, while the USA fell to 1-3.
In a game with a total of 28 hits (11 by USA), neither starting pitcher was around for long. For the USA, Jeffrey Marquez gave up seven runs on eleven hits in three innings, while Cuba’s Freddy Asiel Alvarez allowed four runs on four hits in 2.2 innings.
Alfredo Despaigne homered and drove in two runs and Frederich Cepeda went three-for-four and drove in two more for Cuba. Leadoff hitter Rusney Castillo, the tournament’s top batter, went three-for-five.
The USA was led by third baseman Tommy Mendonca who had three hits including a homer and drove in four runs.
While the US relievers held Cuba to a respectable one run on six hits over the final two thirds of the game, Cuba’s first reliever Norberto Gonzalez gave up two runs in two innings allowing the USA to reach within one run at 7-6 by the fifth inning.
Abreu’s double brought home Yulieski Gourriel for Cuba’s insurance run in the seventh and the USA scored their last run –unearned- in the eighth, on a throwing error by left fielder Despaigne.
In other quarterfinals games on Tuesday, The Netherlands (3-1) defeated Korea (1-3) by a score of 5-1. Australia (2-2) shutout Canada (2-2) 7-0 and Panama (2-2) cruised over Venezuela (2-2) by a score of 11-4.
Schedule for Wednesday October 12
14h00 Netherlands – Australia (Santiago)
14h00 Venezuela – USA (Chitre)
19h30 Cuba – Panama (Santiago)
19h30 Canada – Korea (Chitre)
Play by Play of the USA-Cuba game: Baseballdecuba.com