Cuba continued its winning ways Wednesday, and took a one-game lead on the Netherlands in its third-round pool. One of them will face the United States on Sunday in the gold-medal game of the 2009 World Cup tournament.
Cuba, which plays Team USA today at 2 p.m. ET (on MLB Network), beat Taiwan 8-0, getting two more home runs by outfielder Alfredo Despaigne. The 23-year-old lefthanded hitter tied Team USA’s Justin Smoak (Rangers) with nine homers in the Cup, and tied the Cuban World Cup record set in 1990 by one of Cuba’s all-time greats, Orestes Kindelan. Frederich Cepeda also homered for Cuba, a two-run shot in the first, while Miguel Gonzalez pitched seven shutout innings as Cuba improved to 11-1 overall, matching the U.S. for the Cup’s best record.
The Dutch fell a game off the third-round pact by losing 5-2 to Australia, which broke a 2-2 tie with three in the bottom of the eighth. Australia took the lead when Brad Harman (Phillies) grounded to third but got all the way to third base on throwing errors by third baseman Yurendell DeCaster and first baseman Randall Simon. He then scored the go-ahead run on a wild pitch by Denis Neuman (Red Sox). After a walk, Luke Hughes (Twins) put the game away with a two-run homer, his second two-run homer of the evening. Twins farmhands also starred on the mound. Rightahnder Liam Hendriks (Twins) started for Australia and pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just two hits, while righty Tim Stuifbergen threw five shutout innings himself for the Netherlands.
Speaking of Twins, Canada beat Venezuela 9-2 as Rene Tosoni went 2-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs. Royals farmhand Matt Kniginsyzky threw six shutout innings for the victory as Canada was eliminated from gold-medal consideration, despite a second-place spot in Pool G.