Justin Smoak (Rangers) smoked two more home runs, giving him eight for the World Cup—a record for USA Baseball teams in World Cup play—to lead the U.S. to a 12-3 victory against the Italians, keeping the Americans undefeated in the second round.
Smoak’s homers were part of a four-homer game for the Americans, who also got home runs from Buck Coats (Blue Jays) and Trevor Plouffe (Twins). Team USA has hit 28 home runs in nine World Cup games and has won eight straight overall since losing its first-round opener in extra innings against Venezuela. Team USA dominated the Italian pool at 6-0, with a game left today against Australia, a makeup game. Both teams already have clinched third-round berths, and the third round teams are set: Australia, Canada, Cuba, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, Taiwan, United States and Venezuela.
Lefthander Kasey Kiker (Rangers) struggled with his control again and walked seven in three innings, giving up three hits and three runs (two earned). Righthander Lucas Harrell (White Sox) relieved him and threw three no-hit, scoreless innings to get the victory, and relievers Cedrick Bowers and B.J. Rosenberg (both Phillies) wrapped up. American pitchers struck out 14 in the game.
The U.S. is the only undefeated team in the second round, as Cuba beat host Netherlands 5-3 Sunday behind a three-run double by Yousvany Peraza and another home run from Alfredo Despaigne, his sixth of the tournament. Yulieski Gonzalez allowed three runs on just four hits over 7 1/3 innings for the victory, and Pedro Lazo got the last five outs for the save. Hainley Statia (Angels) had a two-run homer in the eighth to rally the Netherlands.
In other games:
• Canada held of Taiwan 5-3 in a game called after 6 1/2 innings by rain. Rene Tosoni (Twins), batting a team-best .390 overall in the Cup, hit his third homer of the tournament. Catcher Cole Armstrong (White Sox) added two RBIs doubles, in the fifth and sixth, while Adam Loewen (Blue Jays) had two hits in those innings and two runs scored. His RBI single in the sixth brought home Brett Lawrie (Brewers) with what proved to be the winning run. The offense backed up five solid innings from Jamie Richmond (Athletics), and Trystan Magnuson (Blue Jays) got the win after pitching a scoreless sixth inning.
• Australia beat Mexico 6-5 as Brad Harman (Phillies) homered and drove in three. The Aussies used eight pitchers—four for two innings apiece and four in Mexico’s two-run ninth-inning rally. Tim Cox, a former Red Sox farmhand, go the last out for the save. Puerto Rico crushed Nicaragua 16-0 in seven innings, despite not hitting a home run. Nicaragua pitchers gave up 15 hits and eight walks without recording a strikeout. Venezuela also won its last game of the round, beating Great Britain 6-1. In games between teams not advancing, South Korea beat Spain 2-1, and Japan beat the Netherlands Antilles 9-1.
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