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Cuba wins World Baseball Challenge
One big inning.
Cuba's Ciego de Avila Tigres rode a six-run fourth inning to the title in the 2013 World Baseball Challenge at Citizen Field on Thursday night, downing Japan's JX-Eneos 14-4.
The game ended with a three-run homerun from Cuba's Yoelvis Fiss. The 10-run margin brought the mercy rule into effect.
The win made it three in a row for Cuba over Japan in the event, as they won a pair of preliminary round games 4-2 and 8-7.
Cuba struck first in the final, putting up three runs in the bottom of the second, highlighted by a two-run double from Yorbis Borroto.
Japan got two of those back in the top of the third, as Kimio Watanabe tripled to score Shun Ishikawa, who had led the inning off with a double. Watanabe then scored on a grounder by Kazuaki Hidaka.
Ren Yamasaki tied the game in the top of the fourth with a leadoff homerun, just inside the foul pole in right field.
In the bottom of that inning, though, Cuba put the game out of reach. Japanese pitcher Motoshi Oshiro, who had come in to relieve starter Tomoya Mikami in the third inning, apparently suffered a minor injury. After a visit from manager Hideaki Okubo to check on his fitness, he gave up a single to Humberto Morales, and was pulled for Yoshihiro Oda.
Cuba jumped all over Oda, putting together four singles and a double to score six runs and grab an imposing 9-3 lead.
In case Japan had any ideas about a comeback, Cuban starting pitcher Yander Guevara ended them quickly, striking out the first two batters he faced in the top of the fifth and getting a soft liner to finish the inning.
Guevara went the distance, giving up seven hits and not walking a batter. Strangely, all seven hits were for extra bases – three doubles, two triples and two homers.
The Tigres' win marked the second straight World Baseball Challenge win for Cuba, as their representatives won the 2011 tournament with a 10-5 win over Chinese Taipei. As they did this year, the Cubans used one big inning to get the win, scoring all their runs in one long inning.
The NWAACC-USA team took the bronze medals in a thrilling 10-inning 9-7 win over Chinese Taipei.
Taipei had a 5-1 lead early, but the Americans, representing the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges, came back to take a 6-5 lead into the bottom of the eighth. Taipei tied the score, neither team scored in the night, and the teams went to the special tiebreaker format.
The coach of the batting team was allowed to choose the player he wanted to bat leadoff in the 10th. The player two ahead of that batter in the order was placed on second base, and the player immediately ahead of him was placed on first to start the inning.
It's a system designed to make sure games don't drag on, and it worked, as the Americans scored three times in the top of the 10th, then saw Chinese Taipei score in the bottom of the inning to keep things interesting.
This was Chinese Taipei's second trip to the WBC, but the first time they heard their own anthem before games.
Tournament co-chair Jim Swanson says they couldn't play the Taiwanese anthem in 2011.
"The Beijing Tigers were here, representing China, and we were required to play the Olympic anthem for Chinese Taipei.
"This year, we were happy to play the Taiwanese national anthem instead."