Cuba continued its dominance of both international baseball and the World Cup, winning the 36th edition of the tournament with a 3-0 victory against Korea in the gold-medal game Saturday.
Cuba, which went 11-0 overall in the event, has won every baseball World Cup since 1982, a run of nine tournaments, and 12 of the last 13, with Korea’s victory in 1982 the only exception. Cuba also has won every significant international baseball tournament that it has entered since the 2000 Olympics, when it lost in the gold-medal game to Team USA.
While five Korean pitchers limited Cuba to just seven hits, Cuba’s pitchers, righthanders Danny Betancourt and Pedro Luis Lazo, dominated. Betancourt struck out eight and walked four during his 7 1/3 shutout innings, while the veteran Lazo got the final five outs for the save. Cuba turned three double plays behind its pitchers.
Michel Enriquez and Yulliesky Gourriel were Cuba’s top hititng stars in the event. While shortstop Eduardo Paret was named MVP after going 12-for-19 with two homers and eight RBIs, he went down in pool play with a knee injury and didn’t play in the medal round. Enriquez, 26, went 23-for-46 (.500) to lead the tournament and had 20 RBIs in 11 games. Gourriel, 21, had eight home runs to lead the tournament while driving in 19. Lazo meanwhile pitched nine innings without giving up an earned run to lead all pitchers.
Panama rallied from a 4-1 deficit to beat the host Netherlands 7-6 to claim the bronze medal. Former Marlins righthander Rafael Medina got the victory for Panama.
Team USA (7-3 overall) finished seventh in the event, losing to Cuba and forfeiting to Nicaragua in the medal round before beating Puerto Rico 11-3 Saturday. Mike Cervenak (Giants) went 3-for-4 in that game to hit safely in all 10 of Team USA’s games, while Jeff Deardorff (Devil Rays) had four RBIs. Cervenak, Deardorff and Dee Brown (Nationals) all homered and righthander James Garcia (Giants) struck out five in three shutout innings of relief for the victory.
Team USA’s offense was its strength as it based 17 home runs, led by Cervenak’s four. Bryan LaHair (Mariners) Lastings Milledge (Mets) and Ben Zobrist (Astros) also hit well in the tournament, as LaHair and Milledge each had three homers while Zobrist posted a team-best .500 on-base percentage while stealing three bases. However, Team USA’s pitching staff struggled to a 5.19 ERA. Garcia and righthander Jared Wells (Padres) each posted two wins, and Wells’ 1.64 ERA in two starts (11 innings) and 13 strikeouts were team bests.
However, no Americans were named to the all-tournament team, as Cervenak and Zobrist, its top hitters, play the same positions as Paret, Cuba’s shortstop, and Gourriel.
7. United States
8. Puerto Rico
Catcher: Tsutomu Takanezawa (Japan)
First Base: Percy Isenia (Netherlands)
Second Base: Jung-Chi Chen (Taiwan)
Third Base: Yuliesky Gourriel (Cuba)
Shortstop: Eduardo Paret (Cuba)
Outfield: Freddy Herrera (Panama)
Outfield: Danny Rombley (Netherlands)
Outfield: Tiago Magalhaes (Brazil)
DH: Joey Votto (Canada)
Righthanded Pitcher: Pedro Luis Lazo (Cuba)
Lefthanded Pitcher: Diegomar Markwell (Netherlands)