Final

South Africa 1

(0-1)

Cuba 8

(1-0)

2:00 PM ET, March 8, 2009

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RSA 000000001 1 4 0
CUB 12202100X 8 13 0
W:N. Vera (1-0)
L:B. Armitage (0-1)

Cuba uses long ball to rout South Africa

Associated Press

MEXICO CITY -- Frederich Cepeda and Cuba showed off their power in their first game of the World Baseball Classic.

Cepeda hit two of Cuba's tournament-record six homers in an 8-1 victory over South Africa on Sunday.

The previous home run record for the WBC was four, achieved by the Dominican Republic against Venezuela in the inaugural tournament in 2006.

Norge Luis Vera allowed two hits and struck out six in six shutout innings for Cuba, which finished second in the first WBC. The 37-year-old right-hander did not allow a hit until the fifth.

"We started with good offense, we were always on top and kept the difference," Cepeda said. "It's a very important result. It is important to send the signal that the Cuban team is very well."

Cuba wasted no time taking advantage of Mexico City's thin air.

Cepeda connected against Barry Armitage with two outs in the first, Alfredo Despaigne hit a two-run shot in the second and Cepeda added his second solo drive in the third.

Armitage allowed five runs and eight hits, walked two and struck out one in three innings.

Hector Olivera, Youlieski Gourriel and Yoennis Cespedes also hit solo shots for Cuba, and Michel Enrique had an RBI single.

Cuba will play the winner of Sunday's second game between Mexico and Australia on Tuesday.

"We are a team that plays good defense, with solid pitching, good speed and offense," Cuba manager Higinio Velez said. "Like I said, the ball travels far, but it does the same for everybody else."

Johnathan Phillips drove in South Africa's only run with an RBI single off Vladimir Garcia in the ninth.

South Africa will play the loser of the second game on Monday.


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Game Information

Game Time: 2:37
Weather: 78 degrees, sunny
Wind: 1 mph
Umpires: Home Plate - Ted Barrett, First Base - Seok Hwan Oh, Second Base - Lance Barksdale, Third Base - Edgar Estivison