Italy Surprises, Puerto Rico Sweats in WBC

HAVANA TIMES, March 10 — Italy and the Netherlands showed on Monday that the quality of baseball being played by European teams is on the rise. The Italians upset Canada 6-2 to stay alive in Pool C of the World Baseball Classic, sending the North Americans home after two losses and elimination.

Italy (1-1) now plays Venezuela (1-1) on Tuesday afternoon with the winning team joining the USA as the group’s qualifiers for the second round.

The Netherlands (1-1) were ahead 1-0 over powerhouse Puerto Rico (2-0) in Pool D play until the eighth inning, trying to repeat their major surprise 3-2 victory over the Dominican Republic. In the end they lost 3-1 but still have a chance to qualify for round two in a rematch game with the Dominicans (1-1) on Tuesday.

In other games on Monday, Korea (3-1) defeated rival Japan (2-1) 1-0 to finish first in Group A with Japan, the defending WBC champs, qualifying in second place. The Asian group had begun play a couple days earlier than the other three groups and will have extra rest before round two beings March 15 in San Diego.

Cuba (1-0) plays Australia (1-0) in Group B on Tuesday night. On Monday, Mexico (1-1) eliminated South Africa (0-2) with a 14-3 pounding. To follow the Cuban team in the World Baseball Classic read Peter C. Bjarkman’s Havana Times WBC Diary.