The first semifinal matches up two neighboring Caribbean nations. Well sort of, if you skip past Haiti, but Cuba and the island of Hispaniola are adjacent to each other in the Caribbean, separated by the Windward Passage.
Bartolo Colón gets the start for the Dominican Republic and Yadel Martí will most likely be starting for Cuba. Colón will probably be on a much longer leash than Martí, who will likely be pulled whenever the situation warrants it.
In the international sporting scene, the Dominican Republic has not won much of anything. There has only been one Dominican to get a medal in the Olympics: Pedres Nolasco, who won a bronze medal in bantamweight boxing at the 1984 Olympics. The Dominicans won the World Cup of Baseball once, and that was back in 1948 and all the participants were from Latin America.
Cuban manager Higino Velez has described this game as being a matchup between the hombres of Cuba and the nombres of the Dominican Republic. (Men versus names).
Francisco Cordero was expected to join the D.R. roster, but insurance concerns vetoed that. But that might not make a huge difference as the Dominican relievers, with the exception of Miguel Batista, have been much better than expected.
Cuba is used to the pressure of playing in tournaments like the WBC, but this game will likely have far more exposure than the Cubans are used to. The World Cup of Baseball is not a big spectator sport and Olympic baseball rarely even showed up on NBC's multichannel coverage. But this game will be shown to a much wider audience and will be shown live in the US to those people who don't want to watch the NCAA basketball tournament or people like me, who have developed the ability to watch two different sporting events on TV at the same time. I think that if the Dominicans can handle the Cuban pressure and are able to reverse the ball in order to open up some lanes for penetration, they should be able to win this one. But Cuba lives and dies with the three-point shot, so the Dominican should avoid playing a zone defense and make the Cubans beat them down low.
FINAL SCORE Cuba 3, Dominican Republic 1
WP -- Pedro Luis Lazo
LP -- Odalis Perez
HRs -- none
Cuba wins the battle of errors and bloop hits (20 hits, all singles in the game) to advance to Monday's final against either Japan or Korea at 6 pm PT.