Cuba wins, advances to U-23 Baseball World Cup Super Round with Chinese Taipei
Left-hander Naykel Cruz muted the Dominican Republic lineup. Cuba scored six runs on ten hits and finished group play with a 4-1 record.
Cuba will advance to the Super Round after a convincing 6-2 win over the Dominican Republic on Tuesday afternoon in Ciudad Obregon.
The final game of group play saw Cuba score four times in the top of the second inning when five straight batters reached base safely against Dominican Starter Cristian Solano.
Right fielder Loidel Chapelli, a former WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup MVP, had one of the RBIs.
"We worked hard to qualify," commented Chapelli after the game. "We are really excited now. I came here ready to play. When I stepped to bat in the second, I knew it was a crucial at-bat. Thank God I got that line drive. We will do our best to go home with a medal."
That rough patch for Solano marred an otherwise sparkling outing that ended after the righty retired seven straight - including five consecutive strikeouts.
On the other side, Naykel Cruz tossed more than 100 pitches in his six innings of work.
"I'm thrilled, but you don't have to credit my pitching only," said Cruz after the game. "It was a genuine team effort. I managed to get ahead in the count, which is always my goal."
Cruz didn't allow a run until the bottom of the sixth when Cristopher Pujols homered to drive in two with two outs.
"I always look for a fastball and I got one up in the zone," said Pujols. "I tried not to do too much and I took it deep."
There were not many other good at bats for the Dominican Republic.
"Well, we got too anxious and we chased a lot of bad pitches, or at least, not our pitches," added Pujols.
Cruz finished the day with nine strikeouts, earning a well deserved win.
Cuba had just one extra base hit, a Rodoleisis Moreno triple to begin the seventh, and Moreno was one of three Cuban hitters to finish the game with two hits.
The Dominican Republic finishes group play 2–3, having scored just four runs in four games after beating Germany 8-4 in its first game on Friday. They will stay in Ciudad Obregon for the placement round.
"My players got to the game too anxious," admitted Dominican Republic manager Ramon Genao. "Things didn't go our way in this tournament, but we still have to do our best to finish on top of the placement round. Motivations won't lack."
Cuba heads to Hermosillo as one of four teams that will begin Super Round play with a 1-1 Super Round record. The team was 4-1 overall in five games of group play.
Group A, the outcome Mexico (2-0), Cuba (1-1), Chinese Taipei (2-0) advance to the super round.
The Dominican Republic (2-0), Germany (1-1) and the Czech Republic (0-2) will play in the placement round.