Just five days after an embarrassing mercy rule shortened loss to Puerto Rico, Cuba extracted revenge on the home team with a dramatic win and advanced to the semifinals in San Diego Saturday to face the Dominican Republic.
Ormari Romero gave up just one run in four innings of work and his team survived a turbulent seventh inning that saw Cuban manager Higinio Velez get ejected and saw its lead cut from 4-1 to 4-3. But Ivan Rodriguez was thrown out at the plate trying to score from first on a single by Carlos Beltran. Rodriquez saw Cuban center fielder Alexi Ramirez bobble the ball, but he was able to get the relay into second baseman Yulieski Gourriel who gunned out Rodriguez at the plate.
Alex Cintron made a throwing error in the fourth that allowed Cuba to build its lead from 2-1 to 4-1
Puerto Rico and Cuba both finished with 4-2 records, but only the team that has the flag with the red triangle and the blue and white stripes goes on while the team with the flas with the blue triangle and red and white stripes stays home. (I had that wrong in an earlier post and I apologize for the error.)
The surprising, and undefeated, Korean team moved on to the semifinals after defeating its Asian rival for the second time in the tournament. Jong-Beom Lee doubled in two runs in the eighth to give Korea the runs it would need. Byung Hyun Kim got the win in relief and Seung Hwan Oh got the save.
Until Lee's big hit, the closest anyone came to scoring was in the second when Akinori Iwamura tried to score from second on a single to right by Tomoya Satozaki, but Jin Young Lee made a good throw to gun him out at the plate.
In the eighth, shortstop Min Jae Kim drew a one-out walk off of Toshiya Sugiuchi. Then Byung Kyu Lee followed with a single to center. Kim surprisingly tried for third and he somehow managed to get around the tag of third baseman Toshiaki Imae and Lee moved up to second.
Japanese manager Sadaharu Oh didn't dispute the call, but did change pitchers bringing in Kyuji Fujikawa. Jong-Beom Lee then drilled a ball in to the gap in left-center to score Kim and Lee, but was thrown out trying for a triple.
The 2-0 lead held up until the ninth when Dae-Sung Koo gave up a leadoff homer to Tsuyoshi Nishioka. One out later, Nobuhiko Matsunaka singled. This made Korean manager In Sik Kim bring in Oh, who struck out pinch hitter Takahiro Arai and left fielder Histoshi Tamura to send the predominantly Korean crowd into ecstasy.
The chants of "Dae Han Min-Gook!" (basically "Korea!" in Korean) are still echoing in Anaheim I think and they will be heard again in San Diego on Saturday night.
Korea's opponent is still to be determined as Team USA and Mexico will play Thursday afternoon in Anaheim.
The USA will advance if:
They beat Mexico OR
They lose to Mexico 1-0 in 9 innings OR
They give up two runs to Mexico and get two outs in the 9th before losing OR
They give up a third run to Mexico after 12 1/3 innings have been played OR
They play a 3-3 tie in 14 innings.
Japan will advance if:
The U.S. loses to Mexico and allows 2 or more runs before 8 2/3 innings have been played OR
The U.S. loses to Mexico and gives up 3 or more runs before 12 1/3 innings have been played.
Mexico will advance ONLY if it wins 3-0 in 13 innings.
For the purposes of a three-way tiebreaker among the USA, Japan, and Mexico, Japan has already surrendered 5 runs in 17 2/3 innings (.283), the USA is presently at 3 runs given up in 9 innings (.333) and Mexico has given up 6 in 9 innings (.667).
I will have a longer report on the Japan-Korea game tomorrow.