Friday, September 01, 2006

Cuba Only Undefeated Team in Pre-Olympic Baseball

Cuba's National Team at the opening ceremonies

Ahora Cuba

By Sigfredo Barros/ 31-08-2006

With a 15-1 drubbing of Ecuador on Wednesday, Cuba (5-0) was the only team to finish the first round of the 2008 Beijing Olympic Baseball Qualifying Tournament undefeated. The United States (4-1), considered the island's top rival, suffered its only loss 12-9 to Venezuela in 11 innings also on Wednesday.

Thursday is a day off and round two begins on Friday with Canada playing Panama, Mexico vs. Nicaragua, USA-Dominican Republic and Cuba-Venezuela.

Colombia, Ecuador, Puerto Rico and Brazil were eliminated after first round play.

With Wednesday's game considered a walk for Cuba, manager Vicente Anglada decided to rest two of his star players, second baseman Yulieski Gourriel and catcher Ariel Pestano. Deinys Suarez took the mound, the only pitcher who hadn't seen action in the first four games of the tournament.

Suarez responded with 10 strikeouts before giving way to relievers Yadier Pedroso and Jonder Martinez. Hot hitting third baseman Michel Enriquez had two hits in four at-bats and remained on top in the stats with a .550 average.

As a team, Cuba leads the tournament with a .392 average and in pitching with a 1.46 team ERA. Ecuador's only run on Wednesday was unearned. The island also leads with 15 homers in five games, two with the bases loaded.

The United States lost its unbeaten status playing against Venezuela. Reserve shortstop Dirimo Chavez knocked in two of the winning runs in the eleventh inning and Jorge Teran pitched three excellent innings in relief. Teran struck out clean up hitter La Hair and got hard hitting Chad Allen with two on in the tenth.

Nonetheless, the US team, considered Cuba's top rival for first place, ended round one in first place in Group B tied with Mexico.

Canada finished on an upswing by defeating Brazil 7-4. Chris Begg, with a 13-10 record and 3.40 ERA in Class AA professional baseball struck out seven in 7 innings and catcher David Corriente hit a three run homer off Brazilian starter Jo Matsumoto.

In other action on Wednesday Nicaragua defeated the Dominican Republic 6-4; Panama 11-3 over Colombia; and Mexico over Puerto Rico 8-7.

(Taken from Granma)

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