Yuddiel Gonzalez homers, leads Cuba to first win in U-23 Baseball World Cup
The designated hitter went deep in the fifth inning of a very well played pitching duel against Chinese Taipei. Cuba is in the mix for a spot in the super round.
Cuba became the final team to earn a victory in Group A, knocking off previously unbeaten Chinese Taipei 2-1 on Saturday afternoon at Estadio Yaquis.
Chen Shen-Ping opened the scoring in the top of the first with an RBI double, and for the first four innings it looked as if Chinese Taipei was going to ride another strong pitching effort to a third consecutive victory. However, Cuba took advantage of a rare mistake in the bottom of the fifth.
Chinese Taipei starter Lin Yu-Min began his fifth inning of work with a groundout of Ivan Prieto and followed that up with a strikeout of Yandi Yanez. He then struck out Reynaldo Zagada, but Zagada was able to hustle to first, reaching on a wild pitch. Given an extra out, Cuba took the lead with one swing when Yuddiel Gonzalez deposited a 1-1 pitch over the wall in center field.
"I was just trying to put the ball in play," commented Gonzalez. "Thank God, I got a good piece of hit and put us ahead. That relieved the pression we felt."
Chinese Taipei got the tying run aboard with one out in the seventh, but Yoel Cruz slammed the door shut with a flyout and a strikeout of Chang Wen-Hsien.
Cruz earned the victory with 2.1 innings of one-hit ball, striking out five batters and throwing 23 of his 33 pitches for strikes. His outing came on the heels of a strong start from Jonathan Carbo, who scattered two hits across 4.2 innings of work.
While Chinese Taipei is still in a good position to advance to the Super Round at 2-1, there has to be a little concern about the fact that, for the second straight game, the team failed to score a run after the first inning. The team left seven men on base on Saturday, failing to take advantage of five walks by Cuban pitching.
Cuba's next opponent will be the German national team, which also picked up its first win of the tournament on Saturday. Chinese Taipei will face Mexico in the Sunday night game in Ciudad Obregon.