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USA, Cuba Fight For Baseball World Cup Gold

ITALY – Kasey Kiker (pictured) tossed one-hit ball over six innings and Team USA rolled into the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup championship game with an 8-2 win against the Netherlands Friday in Nettuno. The Americans will battle Cuba in Sunday’s gold medal clash.

Riding a tournament-best 12-game winning streak, Ike Davis (Mets) put Team USA out front in the second with a solo drive off former Toronto Blue Jays prospect Diegomar Markwell. The Dutch loaded the sacks the following inning, but came away empty.

Eugene Kingsale reached on an error with one out, and Kiker missed on a 3-2 pitch to Yurendell DeCaster to put another runner on the base paths. Randall Simon hit an infield fly for the second out before Sidney de Jong fouled off three full-count pitches before earning the free pass. But the Texas Rangers southpaw, who is especially tough on left-handed hitters, retired Curt Smith on a flyout to end the frame.

UPCOMING WORLD CUP GAMES:

Saturday, September 26
7th Place: Venezuela vs Taiwan (Firenze)
5th Place: Netherlands vs Australia (Messina)
3rd Place: Puerto Rico vs Canada (Grosseto)

Sunday, September 27
1st Place: Cuba vs USA (Nettuno)

The United States (7-0;13-1) put together a two-out rally in the fourth when Markwell sandwiched an infield hit between a pair of walks to load the bases. However, the left-handed ace of the Dutch League champion DOOR Neptunus escaped the jam when Tug Hulett (Royals) grounded out to first base.

The Americans would not be denied in the sixth blowing open a tight contest with a six-run outburst. Buck Coats and Justin Smoak both stroked two-run hits, while Jon Weber added an RBI single to give skipper Eddie Rodriguez’ squad a 7-0 lead.

The Dutch tagged reliever Geno Espineli for a pair of scores in the seventh. Danny Rombley singled with one out, and raced home on a double by Hainley Statia. DeCaster drilled a run-scoring base hit later in the inning to make the score 7-2.

Hulett led off the eight with a triple off David Bergman, and Coats lifted a flyout to deep right to help Team USA sew up their 13th consecutive win at this year;s World Cup.

Kiker (1-0) fanned six in a terrific outing to claim the win, while Markwell (1-1) was charged with the loss.

CUBA 5 – CANADA 1

Alfredo Despaigne smashed his tournament-leading 10th home run and Yulieski Gonzalez punched out 10 batters as Cuba beat Canada 5-1 Friday to clinch a berth in Sunday’s championship game against the United States.

Despaigne homered in the second to put the Big Red Machine ahead, but Adam Stern went yard in the fifth to pull the Canadians even. Then the Cubans went to work in the bottom of the frame to take a 4-1 lead.

Hector Olivera stepped to the plate with the sacks full and delivered a two-run single, and Leonys Martin scored later on a wild pitch. Olivera added another RBI hit in the seventh to finish off the key victory.

Gonzalez (3-0) turned in another stellar outing for Cuba. The left-hander allowed just one run and two hits in eight strong innings to shut down Canada’s lineup of dangerous hitters.

PUERTO RICO 4 – AUSTRALIA 2

Carlos Rivera belted a game-winning grand slam and Orlando Roman tossed 5 2/3 shutout relief innings to lead Puerto Rico past Australia Friday and advance to the bronze medal game Saturday against Canada.

The Aussies tagged Puerto Rican starter Alexander Woodson with back-to-back homers in the second by Stefan Welch and Tim Kennelly to take a brief 2-0 advantage. But the Caribbean team took the lead for good in the bottom of the inning when Rivera clubbed a pitch from Australian starter Drew Naylor over the right field fence with the bases load.

Roman (1-1) racked up eight strikeouts while limiting the Australians to one hit and a pair of walks to pick up the win.

VENEZUELA 6 – CHINESE TAIPEI 4

Wuilliams Vazquez smacked a three-run home run and Junior Guerra pitched five solid innings to lead Venezuela past Taiwan Friday in Grosseto. The two squads will meet again on Saturday in the seventh-place game in Firenze.

Po-Yu Lo gave the Asian squad a quick lead with a solo dinger in the opening frame. But a run-scoring hit by Rene Reyes knotted the score in the bottom of the same inning. Vasquez broke the deadlock with a long ball and Venezuela cruised to their second win of the final round.

Guerra (2-2) scattered a run on five hits to earn the win, while Chih-Lung Huang (1-2) was pinned with the setback after surrendering six runs and 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings.

FINAL POOL F STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
Cuba 05 02
P.Rico 04 03
Dutch 03 04
Venezuela 02 05

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

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23
Canada 9 – Venezuela 2
Australia 5 – Netherlands 2
United States 3 – Puerto Rico 0
Cuba 8 – Chinese Taipei 0

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24
United States 5 – Cuba 3
Puerto Rico 8 – Chinese Taipei 2
Canada 11 – Netherlands 5
Venezuela 9 – Australia 4

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 25
Cuba 5 – Canada 1
Venezuela 6 – Taiwan 4
Puerto Rico 4 – Australia 2
United States 8 – Netherlands 2

POOL G STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
USA 07 00
Canada 04 03
Australia 02 05
Taiwan 01 06

Photo courtesy of Ratti/FIBS

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