(This article first appeared in ENDI.com. It was translated and edited for our English dominant readers)
TAICHUNG, TAWAIN– Cuba recovered its best version in time in the World Baseball Classic and now travels to Japan for the quarterfinals.
With home runs by Yoán Moncada and Erisbel Arruebarrena, the Cuban team defeated the hosts Taiwan 7-1 on Sunday to finish in first place in the disputed Group A of the tournament.
— MLB Cuba (@mlbcuba) March 12, 2023
The five key teams finished with identical 2-2 records, and a complex string of tie-breaking criteria determined qualification to the next round. Italy got the other ticket, helped with a 7-1 victory over the Netherlands on the last date. The Netherlands, Panama and Taiwan said goodbye.
Italy had to wait several minutes after the last out to make sure they had qualified. The group was defined with the formula of runs allowed and divided by outs. Cuba (15/108, .139) led the way, followed by Italy (17/108, .157), the Netherlands (19/102, .186), Panama (21/105, .200) and Taiwan (31/105 , .295).
Earlier in the day, Cuba opened up a 4-0 lead in the first inning on Alfredo Despaigne’s double that scored Moncada and Luis Robert Jr, his Chicago White Sox teammate. Arruebarrena made it 4-0 later that inning with a two-run home run. Cuban starter Elian Leyva won the victory by covering two and a third innings, in which he did not allow any runs and struck out four.
“It was a difficult game, before an audience that supported their team all the time and with the demand that we had to allow the minimum possible number of scores,” Cuban manager Armando Johnson said.
Cuba, three-time champion of the Olympic Games, seemed to be hopeless after starting its fifth participation in the Classic with successive defeats against the Netherlands and Italy.
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