Baseball World Cup Championship Game, Nettuno:
Cuba – USA 5-10
USA 030 010 600 10 9 0 CUB 000 202 010 5 12 3
Team USA defeated Cuba on Sunday in Nettuno in front of 5,000 people at the Steno Borghese ballpark with 10-5 and won the title at the Baseball World Cup for the fourth time in history. They also captured the championship two years ago in Taiwan, ending the Cuban streak of nine titles in a row.
The squad of head coach Eddie Rodriguez, who was born in Havana, got off to a perfect start, taking a 3-0 lead in the top of the second thanks to a three-run homerun by Lucas May, who edged out Jason Castro as starting catcher in the championship game. Cuba needed until the fourth to get on the board. They loaded the bases with no outs, but only Michel Enriquez and Alfredo Despaigne crossed the plate on a sac fly by Yulieski Gourriel and a single by Ariel Pestano.
The Americans countered with a solo homerun by Tug Hulett in the fifth to extend the lead to 4-2. However just one frame later it looked like that the momentum of the game would move to the record champion. Ariel Borrero tied the contest with a two-run homerun at 4-4.
But the USA had the right answer. After two quick outs in the top of the seventh the next eight batters reached on a walk, six hits and an error, plating six runs and blowing the match wide open. Despaigne hit his eleventh homerun of the tournament in the eighth to cut the deficit to 5-10. But it was not enough to spark a late rally. In the ninth Cuba loaded the bases with two outs, but Despaigne flied out to deep left to end the game.
Cory Luebke (USA) got the starting nod and allowed two runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings, striking out seven. Brad Lincoln (W) replaced him and picked up the win after 4 1/3 innings of relief. Nate Field threw one pitch for the final out, receiving the save. Norge Vera (L) struck out eight in 6 2/3 innings, issuing four hits, six runs (3 ER) and a walk for the loss. Cuba sent four pitchers to the mound in the decisive seventh inning until Freddy Alvarez finally registered the third out.
Photo by FIBS/Ratti