Venezuela Rally Advances them to Second Round; Japan Downs Cuba

In the seventh inning John Andreoli hit his third homerun of the WBC to give Italy a 2-1 lead over Venezuela. Italy turned to Mike Demark in the ninth to pick up the save. The first batter he had to face was Miguel Cabrera. Miguel took his second pitch deep for his first homerun of the WBC to tie the game 2-2.

Venezuela would rally for two more runs in the ninth. Victor Martinez followed the Miggy homerun with a walk. Yangervis Solarte pinch ran for Victor. Rougned Odor hit a ball to deep center that Venezuela claimed was a homerun. The umpires looked at the replay and confirmed the original call that the ball did not travel over the fence. Solarte scored the go ahead run but Odor stopped at first.

Italy went with Frailyn Floran after DeMark failed to retire a batter. Carlos Gonzalez ripped a single to left to advance Odor to third. Gonzalez was thrown out at second trying to stretch the hit into a double. Alcides Escobar laid down a squeeze bunt to score Odor to up the score to 4-2.

Francisco Rodriguez came on to pitch for Venezuela. He gave up a leadoff homerun to Alex Liddi to pull Italy to within one. Rodriguez was able to retire the last three batters to secure the victory.

Anthony Morris had a stellar start for Italy, no hitting the powerful Venezuelan bats in his five innings of work. He walked one and struck out five. There were only 1,783 at a game that was not part of the original schedule, with Mexico not part of the game.

A controversy erupted when Mexico was informed they would advance to a playoff round if they beat Venezuela by two. That notice was quickly removed. Mexico was upset when they won by two and were informed they were eliminated and Venezuela would play Italy in the play in game.

Japan 8 Cuba 5

Tetsuto Yamada crushed two homeruns from the leadoff spot, driving in three and scoring four to lead Japan to an 8-5 win over Cuba. For Cuba it is their second loss in the second round. To stand a chance at advancing they must beat Netherlands and hope Japan beats Israel to put second place in a three way tie.

Yamada led off the game for Japan with a homerun. Cuba bounced back in the second by scoring two on a Yurisbel Gracial homerun. Yosvani Alarcon would double and advance to third in the inning but Victor Mesa struck out.

Yamada got the third inning started with a double. He scored on a clutch two out single from another young Japanese superstar Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh, who finished the game 3 for 3 with two RBIs.

In the fourth Alfredo Despaigne got the inning started with a single. William Saavedra and Alarcon hit one out back to back singles to load the bases. After Jefferson Delgado struck out Victor Mesa came through with a clutch two out single to score two runs. Alarcon was thrown out at third trying to advance after the throw home.

In the fifth Japan ties the game. Seiji Kobayashi started the inning with a single followed by a walk to Yamada. Cuba replaced Bladimir Banos with Yoennis Yera. A bunt moved the runners over and a ground out by Norichika Aoki pulled Japan to within one. With a runner on third and two outs Tsutsugoh got another clutch hit, a ground ball single into centerfield to tie the game.

In the sixth Cuba recaptured the lead. Yurisbel Gracial doubled, advanced to third on a fly ball and scored when Yosvani Alarcon singled. Japan again tied it in the bottom frame. Nobuhiro Matsuda appeared to strike out for the second out of the inning but the ball skipped past the catcher. Another wild pitch by Yera advanced Matsuda to second. Shogo Akiyama walked bringing on Cuba’s closer Miguel Lahera early in the game. A single by Seiji Kobayashi tied the game. Yamada struck out and Akiyama was thrown out trying to steal third to end the inning.

Japan took control of the game in the eighth after William Saavedra dropped a throw from shortstop Alexander Ayala to get the inning started. A Shogo Akiyama single advanced Matsuda to third. He scored when pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa hit a ball deep enough to right field to score Matsuda. Yamada put the icing on the cake with a line drive homerun into centerfield to give Japan an 8-5 lead.

Kazuhisa Makita retired the Cubans in order in the ninth. If Cuba hopes to advance past the second round they need to beat a tough Netherlands team. Japan has already clinched a fourth date for the final four with a game against Israel pending. They are the only country to play in all four final fours. If Israel can win and Cuba beats the Netherlands, Israel can advance to the final four. That could happen with Japan having nothing to play for but the seeding. It appears that even a Japan loss and a Netherlands win would have Israel and Netherlands play a play off game to determine who advances to the final four.

There were 32,717 in attendance to see the second match between Japan and Cuba. That was less than the 44,308 who showed up for the first round match between these two teams.

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