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USA, Cuba Win At Baseball World Cup

ITALY – Tug Hulett reached base four times and Brad Lincoln opened the game with five scoreless innings to lead the United States past Venezuela 6-3 Tuesday at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup in the historic city of Firenze.

Team USA (4-0;10-1), which will sew up a berth in Sunday’s championship matchup with one more win and a loss by Canada, extended it’s tournament-high winning streak to 10 games.

Hulett put the Americans out front in the third with an RBI double, and scored on an error later in the inning to make the score 2-0. Terry Tiffee finished off the early rally with a two-run single.

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Canada (G) vs Venezuela (F)
Australia (G) vs Netherlands (F)
Puerto Rico (F) vs United States (G)
Chinese Taipei (G) vs Cuba (F)

Pedro Alvarez led off the fourth with a towering foul popup that bounced off the mitt of Venezuelan catcher Yosnel Garcia. The No.2 overall pick in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, the Pittsburgh Pirates farmhand stretched the lead to 5-0 with a solo bomb to right field.

Venezuela (0-4;6-5) got on the board in the sixth on a solo homer by Rene Reyes, but the United States countered with a score in the bottom of the frame on a run-scoring single by Trevor Plouffe.

Reyes singled home another run for the Latin Americans in the seventh, and Luis Landaeta tagged reliever Cedrick Bowers for a solo drive in the eighth.

Lincoln (2-0) picked up the win while Filipino-American left-hander Geno Espineli registered the one-out save.

CUBA DEALS AUSTRALIA ANOTHER SLIM SETBACK

Alfredo Despaigne smashed a two-run homer and Norge Vera turned in another solid outing to help Cuba slip past Australia 2-1 Tuesday in Grosseto.

Cuba (3-1;10-1) capitalized on an error by Stefan Welch to grab the lead in the first. Leadoff man Giorvis Duvergel reached on the defensive miscue by the Aussie first baseman, and moved to second on a sacrifce bunt by Hector Olivera. Despaigne followed a groundout by Michel Enriquez with a deep blast to straightaway centerfield to put the Cubans on top, 2-0.

Australia (1-3;), which suffered its fourth one-run loss in this year’s World Cup, plated a run in the third when Nicholas Kimpton scored on an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of James Beresford.

A one-out double by Welch in the seventh put the Aussies in position to knot the score. But, Vera sat down Tim Kennelly on an infield popup and Lazo jogged out of the bullpen to catch Andrew Graham looking at a called third strike to end the inning.

Australia wasted a dazzling performance from Dushan Ruzic. The former Florida Marlins right-hander limited Cuba to just three hits in a complete game gem, and retired the final 17 batters after allowing a one-out double to Olivera in the third.

Vera (3-0) allowed a run and three hits over 6 2/3 innings while posting seven strikeouts to get the win. Lazo worked the final 2 1/3 innings to earn his third save of the tournament.

DUTCH STAMPEDE PAST TAIWAN

Randall Simon and Sharnol Adriana combined to drive in six runs and the Netherlands spanked Chinese Taipei 11-2 Tuesday in Messina, Italy.

The Dutch (4-0;7-1) grabbed an early one-run advantage in the first when Taiwanese starter Wen-Yang Liao walked Adriana with the sacks full to force in a run. But Hung-Yu Lin led off the second with a solo homer to knot the score.

Simon broke the deadlock in the bottom of the second with a two-run single, and Sidney de Jong followed with a run-scoring hit to give the Dutch a 4-1 lead.  The score remained the same until the fifth when the Netherlands pulled away.

Sharlon Schoop greeted new pitcher Chen-Hua Lin with a two-base hit to the gap in right center, and the Dutch had two men aboard after Lin plunked Danny Rombley. Hainley Statia moved both runners into scoring position with a sacrifice bunt before Eugene Kingsale struck out looking. But then Europe’s top national team stroked seven consecutive hits to take a commanding 11-1 lead en route to the lopsided victory.

Alexander Smith worked six innings of four-hit ball with six strikeouts to get the win.

CANADA BLANKS PUERTO RICO

Nick Bucci tossed five innings of no-hit ball and Canada broke a scoreless game with three runs in the final frame to deal Puerto Rico a 3-0 loss Tuesday in Nettuno, Italy.

Canada (2-2;9-2) squandered numerous scoring chances against a Caribbean squad that used seven pitchers in the game.

With runners on the corners and two outs in the fourth, Bett Lawrie hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice. The next inning, Rene Tosoni fouled out to third base with a runner on third, and Adam Loewen struck out with a teammate 90 feet away in the sixth.

Tosoni, who leads the team with a .390 batting mark, was caught looking at a third strike in the seventh to leave Chris Robinson stranded at third base.

The Canadians finally struck paydirt in the ninth. Lawrie led off with a solo home run, and Tosoni plated two more runs with a double down the right field line.

Puerto Rico (2-2;8-3) was limited to just a lone hit by Bucci and three relievers. Dustin Molleken tossed a scoreless eighth to get credit for the win, while Jimmy Henderson worked a 1-2-3 ninth to earn the save.

POOL F STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
Cuba 03 01
Dutch 03 01
P.Rico 02 02
Venezuela 00 04

FINAL ROUND SCOREBOARD:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Cuba 2 – Australia 1
Canada 3 – Puerto Rico 0
United States 6 – Venezuela 3
Netherlands 11 – Chinese Taipei 2

POOL G STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
USA 04 00
Canada 02 02
Australia 01 03
Taiwan 01 03

Photo courtesy of Diego Lazaro

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