By Circles Robinson
HAVANA TIMES, Oct. 15 — Cuba swept a doubleheader at the IBAF Baseball World Cup on Friday, 8-2 over Canada and 7-2 over tournament host Panama, and now faces The Netherlands in the championship game on Saturday at 5:00 p.m.
The Netherlands head into the big game coming off a 4-1 win over Cuba and 2-1 over Australia on Thursday and a 12-2 romp over Venezuela on Friday. Both teams finished with 6-1 second round records.
The United States and Canada, both 4-3, will play for third place earlier in the afternoon.
After qualifying for the finals with the win over Canada in the late afternoon, Cuba’s night cap against Panama was meaningless position wise but gave the team a chance to build momentum going into the finals.
The locals took a quick 2-0 lead off Cuban starter Miguel Lahera in the top of the first on a walk and two doubles by DH Seguinol and outfielder Rodriguez. But Lahera settled down and held Panama scoreless on five hits during the next five innings.
Lahera finished with seven strikeouts in winning his third game of the tournament. Alberto Soto came on to pitch the seventh and final inning allowing one hit and striking out one.
All of Cuba’s runs came in two innings, with five in the third and two in the fourth.
Outfielders Rusney Castillo and Alexei Bell and shortstop sensation Erisbel Arruebarruena led Cuba’s offense. Castillo and Arruebarruena both went 2-for-3 drove in a run and scored twice and Bell went 2-for-4, tripled and drove in three runs.
Final 2nd Round Standings
1) Netherlands 6-1
2) Cuba 6-1
3) Canada 4-3
4) USA 4-3
5) Australia 3-4
6) Korea 2-5
7) Panama 2-5
8) Venezuela 1-6
“All eyes on Sunday will be on the Gold Medal Game between the Netherlands and Cuba at 5pm at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City. The Dutch team never even won a medal with fourth place in 2005 and 2007 being the best finish in their history. Now they have already silver secured, but want to get the big prize against the record title holder, who has collected 25 gold, 3 silver and 2 bronze in 38 years of Baseball World Cup history. Earlier in the day the classification games will take place, including a matchup between Team USA and Canada for third place. Also Korea is battling Australia for fifth and Panama is trying to pick up seventh against Venezuela.”
11h00 Game for 7th: Panama – Venezuela (Aguadulce)
11h00 Game for 5th: Australia – Korea (Santiago)
11h00 Game for 3rd: Canada – USA (Panama City)
17h00 Championship Game: Netherlands – Cuba (Panama City)