By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 10 — Cuba (7-0) plays the USA (4-3) on Tuesday in its first Round Two game of the Baseball World Cup being played in Panama.
The Americans slipped into the quarterfinals by defeating Panama 5-0 on Monday on a pitching gem by Andy van Hekken.
Solo homers from Tommy Mendonica and Brett Jackson gave new life to the defending world champions.
Van Hekken scattered five singles and didn’t walk or strikeout a batter in eight innings. Scott Paterson pitched a hitless ninth, striking out one Panamanian.
The game was rescheduled from a Round One rainout. The USA win ended Puerto Rico’s hopes to continue on.
The USA defeated Cuba (10-5) in the final game of the 2009 World Cup, a repeat of 2007. The Cubans are now eager to regain the top spot they have held for most of the last four decades. A major difference is that in the recent world cups professional players have been allowed to join their country’s teams, upping the level of competition.
This time around the Cubans have looked stronger during the first round, with the islander’s pitchers allowing only five runs in seven games while the batters produced a whopping 54 runs.
Under the World Cup rules each team’s record against its fellow group qualifyers count along with second round play.
Thus, as the second round begins, where each of the four qualifying teams from Group A play the four teams of Group B, the initial standings are as follows: Cuba 3-0, Canada 2-1 Netherlands, 2-1, Korea 1-2, Venezuela 1-2, Australia 1-2, Panama 1-2, USA 1-2.
Schedule 2nd Round for 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup
Tuesday, October 11
14h00 Canada – Australia (Santiago)
14h00 Netherlands – Korea (Chitre)
19h30 Venezuela – Panama (Chitre)
19h30 Cuba – USA (Santiago)
Wednesday, October 12
14h00 Netherlands – Australia (Santiago)
14h00 Venezuela – USA (Chitre)
19h30 Cuba – Panama (Santiago)
19h30 Canada – Korea (Chitre)
Thursday, October 13
14h00 USA – Australia (Aguadulce)*
15h00 Canada – Venezuela (Panama City)
19h30 Korea – Panama (Panama City)*
19h30 Cuba – Netherlands (Aguadulce)
Friday, October 14
14h00 Canada – Cuba (Panama City)*
14h00 Netherlands – Venezuela (Aguadulce)*
19h30 Korea – USA (Aguadulce)
19h30 Panama – Australia (Panama City)
*home field advantage will be determined due to coin flip
Schedule Final Classification Games
Saturday, October 15
11h00 Game for 7th Place (Aguadulce)
11h00 Game for 5th Place (Santiago)
11h00 Game for 3rd Place (Panama City)
17h00 Championship Game (Panama City)
Cuba’s games can be seen live on the special Baseballdecuba.com IBAF W0rld Cup website.