For the second straight day in San Juan, there will be an elimination game to decide one of the semifinalists. Both Cuba and Puerto Rico are 1-1 and the winner moves on to play the Dominican Republic Saturday in San Diego.
When these two teams met last Friday, Puerto Rico embarrassed Cuba with a 12-2 win that was shortened to seven innings by the mercy rule. Cuba bounced back from that loss to defeat Venezuela in its first game of the second round, but then lost to the Dominican Republic.
Puerto Rico handed the Dominican Republic its only loss of the tournament Sunday, but was shut out by Venezuela Monday.
Dicky Gonzalez should get the start for Puerto Rico. Gonzalez pitches for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows and is a former Mets farmhand. Cuba's starting pitcher is not known at this time, keeping with the team's practice of not giving out a lot of information about anything.
The degree to which certain players are injured will play a role. Carlos Delgado has missed the first five games for Puerto Rico with tendinitis in his left elbow. If he can come back, his bat could change the dynamics of the Puerto Rico offense. Cuban second baseman Yulieski Gourriel left his team's loss to the Dominican Republic in the eighth inning after being hit by a pitch. If he can't play, Cuba would be in serious trouble.
A sellout crowd is expected for the last game in San Juan to see whether the Dominican Republic plays its island neighbors to the west (Cuba) or the east (Puerto Rico).
And if the flags confuse you, remember that Cuba has the blue triangle with the red and white stripes, while Puerto Rico has the red triangle with the blue and white stripes.
As an added wrinkle, if the game is tied after 14 innings, it will end in a tie.
So who would advance to the semis? The head-to-head tiebreaker wouldn't matter. The runs allowed tiebreaker wouldn't matter. The earned runs allowed tiebreaker would matter if somebody gives up an unearned runs. After that it would be which ever team had the higher batting average during the game. If that ended up identical, it would be a coin toss.