Home runs from Cespedes, Peraza lead Cuba to second round in WBC
MEXICO CITY -- Pinch-hitter Yosbany Peraza hit a two-run homer in the eighth inning and Cuba survived a scare to beat Australia 5-4 on Tuesday to earn a spot in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
"I knew I had to hit a big one," Peraza said.Cuba, the 2006 runner-up, is 2-0 and grabbed the first ticket from Group B for the next round in San Diego. Australia (1-1) and Mexico (1-1) play on Wednesday to determine who will join Cuba in the second round. The Australians thrashed Mexico 17-7 in their opening game."It's a team that has always given us a fight," said Cuba manager Higinio Velez.With two outs and Youlieski Gourriel on base, Pereza replaced Joan Carlos Pedroso and sent reliever Richard Thompson's fourth pitch into the left field stands.Cuba opened the scoring in the third inning with Frederich Cepeda's RBI single off Australian starter Travis Blackley.Australia tied it in the fourth when Luke Hughes doubled and Ben Risinger followed with a run-scoring single off Cuba starter Aroldis Chapman.Yoennis Cespedes put the Cubans ahead 2-1 with a solo home run in the top of the sixth, but the lead was short-lived as Australia replied with three runs in the bottom half.Reliever Norberto Gonzalez walked Hughes, who made it to third following a balk and Chris Snelling's sacrifice. Pedro Luis Lazo replaced Gonzalez and the veteran pitcher was immediately in trouble after allowing a run-scoring line drive by Justin Huber.With two outs, Michael Collins hit a single and the two runners advanced to second and third following a poor throw to second base by Lazo. A walk to Brad Harman loaded the bases and James Beresford knocked in two runs with a line drive to left field to put the Australians up 4-2.The Cubans cut the deficit with Michel Enrique's RBI double in the seventh.Ismel Jimenez (1-0) tossed 2 2-3 shutout innings in relief to seal it for Cuba.After the game, Velez responded to criticism from Australian coach Jon Deeble, who complained that the Cuban lineup he received before the game was different to the batting order in the game.The original lineup had Alexander Mayeta batting fifth, but once the game started Mayeta batted seventh and Alfredo Despaigne was in the fifth spot.Deeble said it was "a lack of respect" from the Cubans and that it was typical of the Cuba team."We are respectful. I don't know who made the mistake but it wasn't us," insisted Velez, who said he handed in the correct lineup half an hour before the start. "We are principled, very professional. Cuba does not do that kind of thing."
F Cepeda singled to shallow right, L Navas scored.
B Risinger singled to left, L Hughes scored.
Y Cespedes homered to right.
J Huber singled to right center, L Hughes scored.
J Beresford singled to left, J Huber and M Collins scored, B Harman to third.
M Enriquez doubled to deep left, H Olivera scored.