By SIGFREDO BARROS
Both Asian teams won their opening games Monday in the 22nd “AAA” World Junior Baseball Championship being played in three central Cuban provinces. Cuba defeated Holland on Sunday to open the competition.
Chinese Taipei took advantage of four United States errors and 4 excellent innings of scoreless relief pitching by Kai-Wen Cheng to win 4-1.
South Korea scored 13 runs in the first three innings off the Panamanian pitching and cruised to a 13-2 victory in a 7th inning mercy rule game. Shortstop Nam Hyung Kim went 2 of 3 with a triple, 3 runs scored and 4 RBIs to lead Korea. Tai-Hoon In, the winning pitcher, stuck out 9 in five innings.
A group of 40 South African medical students were on hand in Sancti Spiritus to root on their country’s team playing Australia on Monday. However their enthusiasm proved insufficient as Aussie starter Tom Ellis pitched 7 innings of two-run ball to lead his team to a 9-2 victory. Clean up hitter Match Dening drove in three runs on 3 hits while Alan Schoenberg hit a two run homer.
A close European duel between Italy and Spain, 4-2 through 5 and a half innings, turned into a route as the Italians scored 8 times in the bottom of the sixth on route to a 12-2 seventh inning mercy rule victory. First baseman Alex Sambucci went 3 for 3 with 3 RBIs.
In the day’s final game, Canada erased a 6-0 deficit with three runs in the 7th, another three in the 9th, and then a four run 13th inning to win 10-6 over Mexico. Reliever Phillip Aumont was the star of the game pitching five scoreless innings and hitting a two run homer in the final inning. Clean up hitter Shane Wilson went 4 for 5 for Canada.
Cuba (1-0) plays its second game on Tuesday against South Korea (1-0), with right-hander Yasser Serrano announced as the island’s starting pitcher.
The World Junior Baseball Championship (under 19) involves 12 teams divided into two groups in the under-19 category and runs through September 27 in Ciego de Avila, Villa Clara and Sancti Spiritus.
Group A includes Australia, South Korea, Cuba, Holland, Panama, and South Africa.
Group B is made up by Canada, Chinese Taipei, Spain, United States, Italy and Mexico.