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5th October 09
BASEBALL BLOGS

28th September
USA DEFENDS WORLD CUP:

27th September
USA DEFEATS CUBA TO TAKE GOLD AT BASEBALL WORLD CUP SUNDAY:

26th September
RESULTS FROM SATURDAY

25th September 2009
LATEST FROM THE BASEBALL WORLD CUP:

24th September
BASEBALL WORLD CUP LATEST UPDATES:

22nd September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP FINAL EIGHT BEGINS TUESDAY IN ITALY

21st September
Final Eight Nations Set, Seedings To Be Determined Monday As Baseball World Cup Reaches Championship:

September 18th
2009 BASEBALL WORLD CUP RESULTS AND NOTES

17th September
THURSDAYS RESULTS
:

17th September 2009
DUTCH & CUBANS REMAIN UNDEFEATED AT BASEBALL WORLD CUP
:

16th September 2009
SUMMARIES AND NOTES FROM BASEBALL WORD CUP

13th September 2009
SUMMARIES AND NOTES FROM BASEBALL WORD CUP

12th September 2009
2009 BASEBALL WORLD CUP...RESULTS AND NOTES FOR END OF ROUND ONE

11th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP RESULTS AND NOTES:  DAY THREE

10th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP DAY TWO RESULTS AND NOTES

9th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP DAY ONE SUMMARIES


 

5th October 09

Fellow-Baseball Nuts! There are plenty of baseball blogs out there but few better than this guy. Check the latest offering from Royals fan Joe Posnanski:

Disco Hayes Defies The Odds in Royals’ System
Joe Posnanski - August 29th 2009

OMAHA, Neb. | Well, I’ve written about many things in this space for the last 13 years or so, but I suppose the theme has always been dreams. That this isn’t everyone’s speed, I know. There were always some who wanted more anger here, more scepticism, more calls for change, more attacks on the players and coaches and teams that lost.

I understand. But one of the lessons you learn in life is that you have to try and stay true to yourself. As a columnist, you have to write about what speaks to you. In Omaha, I watch Alex Gordon mope his way through a Class AAA game. Gordon, of course, was the second pick in the 2005 amateur draft, the can’t-miss prospect, the Midwestern kid with the George Brett swing and the swagger in his walk. Now, after two patchy big-leagues seasons and a third scarred by injuries and strikeouts, he’s here in Omaha, barking at umpires seemingly after every pitch, walking with his shoulders slumped, looking for all the world like someone who has been wronged by life.
Instead, I am writing about a 26-year-old relief pitcher some call Disco Hayes.

They call Chris Hayes “Disco” because he throws in the 70s. Isn’t that beautiful? Everything about Disco Hayes is like that — funny and self-deprecating but also oddly confident. Disco Hayes believes he will get out big-league hitters. He doesn’t believe that he can get them out. He believes he will. And no one yet has shaken that belief.

Oh, Disco is a smart guy — a Northwestern grad with a computer science degree. He understands why people may think that an undrafted pitcher who throws sidearm fastballs at 78 mph isn’t a big-league prospect. He sympathizes with those people. Hey, if Disco didn’t know better, he might think the same thing. But he does know better.

“I can’t really explain it,” he says, and while he’s talking, he and his wife, Tracy, hold hands. “I’ve just always believed in my ability to pitch.”

“We know we’re going to have a long career in the big leagues,” Tracy says.

Who can explain that sort of confidence? Disco Hayes showed up at a Royals tryout back in 2006. He was out in Arizona on money he did not really have to try out for teams that had shown only vague interest — the White Sox, the Padres. Someone mentioned that the Royals were having a tryout camp. An Abbott and Costello skit followed.

“Where?” Disco asked.

“Surprise,” the guy said.

“What’s the surprise?” Disco asked.

“The town,” the guy said.

“The tryout is going to be in a surprise town?” Disco asked.

“Exactly,” the guy said.

And so on. Eventually, Disco found his way. When he arrived at the tryout, he saw a collection of 40- and 50-year-old men — one wearing work boots. He heard a Royals official ask if anyone there had major-league experience. Disco snickered, then noticed that seven or eight people were holding their hands up in the air. He suddenly realized that this wasn’t a tryout camp so much as a graveyard for broken dreams. While he pitched, he noticed a Royals scout behind him with a radar gun. He had mixed emotions. It was nice to be noticed. But radar guns were never kind to Disco Hayes.

The next day, the Royals called to offer him a contract. Joy. His friend found Wilbert Harrison’s “Kansas City” on Disco’s iPod, and the two of them listened and sang along and talked about how this crazy dream really was coming true. At that point, Chris Hayes had never made an All-Star team. Never. Not in college. Not in high school. Not in Little League. Not in tee-ball. He still thought he would pitch in the big leagues.

He pitched quite well in Class A Burlington — 2.66 ERA, three times as many strikeouts as walks. The Royals were unimpressed — they sent him back. He pitched almost as well the second time around in Burlington — 3.10 ERA and again three times as many strikeouts as walks. The Royals were impressed this time, impressed enough to call up Chris Hayes and offer him an executive internship within the organization. They told him he could have a big future in the front office.

And that’s when Chris and Tracy did a little soul searching. Here was a real offer — an offer many of his friends would love to get. Here was a chance to really work for a big-league team. Of course he turned it down. The Royals told him he was a longshot to make any team. At spring training, he did not give up a single run.

“You never gave us a chance to release you,” a Royals official said with admiration in his voice. Disco Hayes went to Class AA Northwest Arkansas and went 5-2 with a 1.64 ERA and, yes, three times as many strikeouts as walks. The Royals one more time refused to believe those numbers were real; they sent him back to Northwest Arkansas this year. He went 3-0 with an 0.98 ERA and three times as many strikeouts as walks. And one more time, the Royals had no choice. They sent him to Class AAA Omaha. And here he is, after all these crazy years, three hours and one call away from the show.

There’s a famous story — or, anyway, famous in Kansas City baseball circles — about the first time Royals manager Jim Frey saw Dan Quisenberry pitch. Quiz had pitched very well in the minor leagues, but nobody really knew why. He threw sidearm then — he would soon throw submarine style — and he threw preposterously slow. As he would say, his slider didn’t slide, his curveball didn’t curve and his change-up didn’t change a thing.
Frey watched Quiz throw for a while. Then he stopped the action, walked up to Quiz and held an impromptu interview.

“Are you throwing as hard as you can?” Frey asked.

Quiz nodded. That was as hard as he could throw.

“And is that your curveball?” Frey asked.

Quiz nodded again. That was his best curveball.

Frey nodded and then gave his summation of Dan Quisenberry’s talents. “Holy (BLEEP)!” he muttered, and he walked off.

I tell that story to Disco Hayes. After all, Quisenberry became the best relief pitcher in Royals history — maybe the best pitcher in Royals history, period. Disco laughs — times change and times don’t change. Almost 30 years later, the Royals have another bright, funny and driven right-handed relief pitcher who throws submarine style and leaves baseball people shaking their heads in dismay.

“You know what I would like to do?” Disco says. “I would love it if they would take all the relievers who throw 95 mph and put them in one group. And then take all the relievers who throw submarine style like I do and put them in another. And then compare their ERAs. I wonder what that would show.”

Well, I don’t know what it would show overall, but it’s worth noting that the Royals do have a bullpen filled with guys who throw extremely hard. Kyle Farnsworth, Juan Cruz, Robinson Tejeda and Roman Colon all have mid-to-high 90s fastballs. They have a combined ERA of 5.56.

The funny thing about baseball is that people will believe what they want to believe. Nobody in the game will watch Kyle Farnsworth give up runs and conclude: “Well, apparently guys who throw 100 mph can’t get people out in the big leagues.” But it’s that way with the submarine pitchers. Disco Hayes has hit a bit of a rough patch the last three weeks in Omaha — his ERA has jumped from around 3.00 to 4.78 — and he knows there are people who conclude that he has hit his ceiling, that Disco Time was fun while it lasted, but a pitcher can’t get batters out throwing in the 70s.

Of course, he doesn’t worry about it. He can’t worry about it. He will pitch in the big leagues. Three years ago, after his unlikely signing with the Royals, Hayes found a cheap flight and came down to watch a couple of games at Kauffman Stadium. His favorite part was the fountains, of course. And ever since then, he has had this mantra that has played over and over again in his mind: “Listen to the fountains.”

Disco says that’s what he tries to do when the doubts and doubters shout in his ears. Listen to the fountains. Maybe the Royals will offer him a September call-up to the big leagues next week. Maybe they won’t. Maybe he will get a chance to pitch winter ball. Maybe he won’t. Maybe the Royals will be the team to give him the chance that Chris Hayes believes is his destiny. And then again, maybe they won’t.

Does it matter? No. Not today it doesn’t. This is the thing about sports that endlessly fascinates me. Kurt Warner believed he would be a star NFL quarterback. Maurice Greene believed he would run 100 meters faster than any man before him. Tom Watson believed he could win one more British Open, even with an artificial hip and his 60th birthday closing in. Bill Snyder believed he could turn Kansas State football into a winner. Bill Self believed his team could come back in the final seconds. Priest Holmes believed he could score more touchdowns in a season than anyone before him.

And Disco Hayes believes he will have a long and fun career pitching major-league baseball. Do all dreams come true? Of course not. Most of them don’t. But maybe the point is not about them coming true. Maybe the point is trying, and listening to the fountains.

Ponanski, Joe 2009 ‘Disco Hayes defies the odds in Royals’ system’, Kansas City Star. http://www.kansascity.com/180/story/1412928.html#

28th September
USA DEFENDS WORLD CUP:

Sunday’s 10-5 win by the USA over Cuba in Nettuno, Italy gave the USA its fourth World Cup, and their second consecutive title. They defeated Cuba 6-3 for Gold in Chinese Taipei in 2007 as well. It is the second time USA has won back-to-back World Cups, having done so in 1973-74. It was just the second time that the USA beat Cuba for Gold. Cuba now leads the finals matchups 6-2. The USA’s circuitous route to the title saw them play games in eight cities (Regensburg, Germany and seven different Italian cities) during the three weeks. Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak was named World Cup MVP, while Tampa Rays prospect Jon Weber (.412 3 HR 13 RBI)  and Philadelphia Phillies farmhand Terry Tiffee were named All-World Cup Pitchers. Lucas Harrell, a Chicago White Sox prospect, and Atlanta Braves prospect Todd Redmond both went 3-0 for Team USA.

WORLD CUP SUPERLATIVES:

TOP HITTER: Paco Figueroa, Spain (17-35, .500)
BEST ERA: Matt Kniginyzky Canada (2-0, 0.00 ERA in 18 innings)
MOST RBI: Rene Reyes, Venezuela (23 RBI)
MOST HOME RUNS: Alfredo Despaigne, Cuba 11 *
MOST RUNS SCORED: Rene Tosoni, Canada (18 runs)
BEST DEFENSIVE PLAYER: Angel Sanchez, SS, Puerto Rico


ALL WORLD CUP TEAM:

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER Justin Smoak, USA (.291 9 HR 22 RBI)
Starter: Norge Vera, Cuba
Reliever: Trystan Magnuson, Canada
Catcher: Sydney deJong, Netherlands
1B: Justin Smoak USA
2B: Hector Olivera Cuba
3B: Shawn Bowman Canada
SS: Hainley Statia, Netherlands
OF: Alfredo Despagne, Cuba, Miguel Abreu, Puerto Rico, Jon Weber, USA
DH: Terry Tiffee, USA


LARGEST TELEVISION AUDIENCE EVER FOR THE WORLD CUP:
Sunday’s final was broadcast on the MLB Network in the United States, Eurosport2 across Europe, ICRT in Cuba, RAI Sport in Italy and on tape delay on ESPN STAR Asia, making it the most widely broadcast final in the World Cup’s 71 year history.  In addition to the final, World Cup country-specific games were shown live or on tape delay on NOS in the Netherlands, TVES in Venezuela,  VIASAT in Sweden,  TV4 in Nicaragua, CzechTV in the Czech Republic, WIPR in Puerto Rico and on NBC Universal’s Spanish language channel in the United States, WAPA TV, giving the event its largest broadcast footprint.

WORLD CUP BRINGS RECORD TRAFFIC TO http://www.facebook.com/l/19ec5;IBAF.ORG The IBAF’s official site, http://www.facebook.com/l/19ec5;Ibaf.org attracted over 750,000 visitors and over 12 million page views through the World Cup, coming from over 170 countries, an increase of over 70% from during its last heavy visit period, which was the Beijing Olympics.

ATTENDANCE MARKS: 
Further evidence of baseball’s growth in Europe was seen throughout the tournament. Leading the way was Regensburg, Germany, which saw crowds in excess of 5,000 for almost all of the three days of competition in the first round, highlighted by a Friday night crowd of almost 10,000 fans for USA-Germany. At other first round sites, Sweden had a capacity crowd of over 2,100 for Saturday’s final day and strong crowds approaching 1,500 on the others. Spain had overflow crowds on both Friday and Saturday in excess of the 1,500 seating capacity for their games with Puerto Rico and Cuba and Prague had an overflow of 2,500 for Saturday and crowds in excess of 1,500 for Friday, all positive signs of growth. The Netherlands drew crowds of over 3,000 for their home games, capped by a near-capacity of 4,000 in Rotterdam for their game with Cuba. The Gold Medal game in Nettuno, Italy drew a sellout of 4,600.   

FUTURE STARS ALIGN: 
Over 120 players from 17 countries under contract with Major League teams participated in the three weeks of the World Cup, the largest professional international tournament in the history of the sport.  Also there were 25 players with Major League experience who participated in this year’s World Cup. Both the numbers of prospects and veterans were records for the event.

CUBA MEDALS AGAIN: 
Despite their loss in the final. Cuba continued their consecutive run of medals in the World Cup. They have taken Gold in 25 of the 29 World Cups in which they have played, and have taken two silvers and two bronze medals in the other four. They had won all three of the World Cups held in Italy (1978, 1988, 1998) prior to Sunday’s loss.

CANADA, AUSTRALIA LAND BEST-EVER FINISHES:
Canada’s 6-2 win Saturday over Puerto Rico gave them the Bronze medal, their best-ever finish, while Australia’s 4-1 win over the Netherlands on Saturday gave them a fifth place finish, their best ever. Canada’s previous best was fifth on three different occasions, while Australia’s previous best was sixth in 2007. Kansas City Royals prospect Tim Smith (.414  2 HR 10 RBI), Future’s Game MVP, Eastern League All-Star and Minnesota Twins prospect Rene Tosoni (.357 3 HR 16 RBI) and  Milwaukee Brewers farmhand Adam Stern (.333 1 HR 9 RBI) led the hitting,  while pitchers Matt Kniginyzky (2-0, 0.00 ERA in 18 innings), a Kansas City Royals prospect,  Toronto Blue Jays prospect Trystan Magnuson,  and Brewers prospect Nick Bucci (0.00 ERA in 14 innings) led the pitching staff.

PUERTO RICO USES MIX OF YOUTH AND EXPERIENCE TO TAKE FOURTH:
Puerto Rico used a mix of veterans and prospects to finish fourth, matching their best overall performance since 1976 (they also finished fourth in 1990). Baltimore Orioles prospect Miguel Abreu was an All-World Cup selection, leading the team in hitting at .380, while Toronto Blue Jays prospect Angel Sanchez (.333) finished second and was named top Defensive Player.  Puerto Rico had a tournament high NINE players with Major League experience on their roster in addition to their rising stars.

NETHERLANDS CONTINUES AS EUROPE’S ELITE: 
The Netherlands continued their spot as Europe’s top country, finishing sixth, after taking fourth in each of the last two World Cups. San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop hit .364, while Los Angeles Angles prospect Hainley Statia (.333) took all tournament honors, along with leading hitter and veteran Sidney deJong.

GEOGRAPHIC DOMINANCE A RARITY: 
The top four finishers - USA, Cuba, Puerto Rico and Canada - all came from the same geographic region, something which had not happened in World Cup competition since 1974, when the USA, Nicaragua, Colombia and the Dominican Republic finished 1 through 4.

ASIAN NATIONS MISS OUT:
With Chinese Taipei finishing eighth, it marked the first time since 1974 that no Asian team medaled at the World Cup. Korea (9) and Japan (10), two traditional baseball powers, had their lowest-ever finishes. Korea had never finished lower than eighth (1988) while Japan had never finished lower than fifth (1998 and 2005).

MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECTS, DRAFTEES PLAY BIG ROLES: 
Many of the MLB organization-high 14 players under contract to the Minnesota Twins played prominent roles in the World Cup. They included Puerto Rico’s Nelvin Fuentes (1.42 ERA), the USA’s Trevor Plouffe  (.287 3 HR 7 RBI), leading Canadian hitter Rene Tosoni (.357 3 HR 16 RBI), the Netherlands top pitcher Tom Stuifbergan (1.80 ERA) , leading Australia hitter Luke Hughes (.286 4 HR 12 RBI), and pitchers Liam Hendriks (2.57 ERA) and Matthew Williams (2-0). The Twins had 23 total players who originally signed with or currently under contract with the Twins, play in the World Cup.

NEW YORK METS PROSPECTS AND VETS ALSO MAKE AN IMPACT:
 
Besides the Twins prospects in the World Cup, the New York Mets organisation was represented by 13 players, eight current and five former players. Canadian infielder Shawn Bowman was selected to the All-World Cup team (.275 3 HR, 15 RBI), while Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick and organisation Player of the Year in 2009, hit .308 with 2 HR and 4 RBI. Canada’s Jonathan Malo hit .263, while Aussie infielder Stefan Welch hit .259 with 3 HR 11 RBI. Puerto Rico’s roster had five former Mets players not currently signed to an MLB team, including Jose Santiago, Raul Casanova, Luis Matos, Jose Valentin and Juan Padilla.  Valentin led the team with 10 RBI.

PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES SIGNEES PLAY ROLES AS WELL:
Australia’s Tim Kennelly and Joel Naughton, two Phillies Prospects, were key in the Aussie’s best-ever finish. Kennelly hit for average (.273) and power (three home runs, nine RBI), while Naughton (.464, eight RBI) was key as well.  USA’s All-World Cup pick Terry Tiffee (.357 4 HR 20 RBI), who spent the season with Lehigh Valley, also had a solid tournament.

PIRATES FUTURE CHIMES IN:
A group of Pittsburgh Pirates prospects also made an impact in the World Cup, including USA’s  Pedro Alvarez, a New York native who set the record with three home runs in one game (3), and pitcher Brad Lincoln, who went 2-0 in four appearances with a 2.70 ERA.  Australia’s Christopher Snelling, who spent the season at AAA Indianapolis, also hit .240 as a key starter in their best-ever finish. There are also six current Pittsburgh Pirates who helped USA win the Gold in 2007.

RANKINGS UP NEXT: 
Following the World Cup, the new country-by-country rankings will be announced in the next week.

27th September
USA DEFEATS CUBA TO TAKE GOLD AT BASEBALL WORLD CUP SUNDAY:


The USA exploded for six two out seventh inning runs, and got a three run home run from Los Angeles Dodger prospect Lucas May and a solo home run from Tug Hulett to defeat Cuba 10-6 and successfully defend their World Cup title before a sell-out crowd of 5,600 Sunday in Nettuno, Italy.

May’s three run second inning home run off Norge Vera gave the US an early 3-0 lead, and it was 4-2 in the sixth when Cuba’s Ariel Borerro hit a two run home run of his own off pitcher Brad Lincoln, to tie the score. However, the USA answered right back in the seventh.  With runners on second and third and two out, Trevor Plouffe reached on an error, scoring both Hulett, son of former MLB player Tim Hulett,  and Buck Coates to give the US the lead again at 6-4. Jon Weber followed with an RBI single off pitcher Pedro Lazo, and Terry Tiffee, Josh Kroger and May came right behind with RBI singles of their own to break the game open.  Alfredo Despaign’s record 11th home run cut the margin to 10-6 in the eighth, and Cuba had the bases loaded and two out in the ninth before Nate Field entered the game and got Despaigne on a fly to left to end the game.

Lincoln, a Pittsburgh Pirates prospect, got the win for USA, while May went 4-4 in the game.  The USA successfully defended its title, defeating Cuba for the second time in four days and reeling off 13 straight wins. Justin Smoak, who set a Team USA record with nine home runs and is a top prospect for the Texas Rangers, was named tournament Most Valuable Player. Cuba takes the silver medal for the second straight time, after nine consecutive titles, and Canada, which defeated Puerto Rico yesterday, took the bronze for their best ever finish.

26th September
RESULTS FROM SATURDAY:

CANADA 6 PUERTO RICO 2: 
The Canadians completed a successful World Cup by taking their first-ever Bronze Medal, defeating Puerto Rico in Grosetto. Canada took an early 3-0 lead on a Shawn Bowman RBI double and a Jimmy Van Ostrand sacrifice fly, but Puerto Rico cut the lead to 3-2 in the second on Jose Valentin’s two run home run off of starter Jamie Richmond.  It remained a one run game until the eighth, when Jonathan Malo tripled in Adam Loewen from first, and then in the ninth Van Ostrand hit a two run home run off of Richard Rodriguez to break the game open. Four Canadian pitchers held Puerto Rico to seven hits and did not allow a runner to get as far as third after Valentin’s second inning home run

AUSTRALIA 4 NETHERLANDS 1: 
David Welch and Dushan Ruzic held the Netherlands to one run and eight scattered hits, giving Australia their best finish ever, fifth place, in a 4-1 win.  Hainley Statia’s RBI single had tied the game at one in the third for the Dutch, but Australia took the lead for good on an RBI single by James Beresford and a run scoring ground out by Nicholas Kimpton in the seventh.  Stephan Welch ended the scoring with an eighth inning home run, and Ruzic ended the game by getting Daschenko Ricardo on a pop up to second with the tying run at the plate.

VENEZUELA 6 CHINESE TAIPEI 3:
Venezuela took seventh place, rallying from a 2-0 deficit in the sixth to win. Dirimo Chavez two run single tied the score at 2-2 after six, and a Jonathan Sivira sacrifice fly scored Wuilliams Vazquez to give Venezuela the lead for good in the seventh. A Rene Reyes two run single in the eighth pushed the lead to 5-3, and Yosnel Garcia’s RBI  single ended the scoring. Four different Venezuela pitchers held Chinese Taipei scoreless over the final four innings.

GOLD MEDAL PREVIEW:  USA VS. CUBA, SUNDAY AT 15:00, NETTUNO, ITALY:

The United States of America and Cuba will meet in an International Baseball Federation (IBAF) Baseball World Cup final for the second time in a row, Sunday, at 15:00 (9:00 am EDT)  in Nettuno, Italy. The U.S. enters the game at 7-0 (13-1 overall), and Cuba, 5-2 (12-2 overall) in third round play. The USA’s only loss was their first game, 13-9 in 11 innings to Venezuela on 10 September. Cuba has lost to Puerto Rico 5-2 on 18 September and to the USA 5-3 on Thursday.

The game will be seen on the MLB Network in the United States, Eurosport2 across Europe, ICRT in Cuba, RAI Sport in Italy and on tape delay on ESPN STAR Asia, making it the most widely-broadcast final since World Cup play began in 1938.

The final game will be a rematch of the 2007 IBAF Baseball World Cup, held in Chinese Taipei.  The United States won that match-up, 6-3, ending Cuba's run of nine-straight World Cup titles. Although the USA has seen the most recent success in the event, Cuba has historically dominated World Cup play.  The current No. 1 in the world, Cuba has won a staggering 25 titles out of the 29 World Cups in which it has competed.  Of the 25 wins, three of them have come in World Cups held in Italy (1978, 1988, 1998), and in the four tournaments it has not placed first, it has never finished outside of the top-3.

Team USA - current world No. 4 - will make its 12th appearance in a World Cup gold medal game. The USA is looking to take back-to-back titles for only the second time ever, the last time being in 1973-'74. The U.S. has won the World Cup three times in 1973, 1974 and 2007.  Overall, this will be the seventh time Cuba and the USA have played for World Cup gold, with Cuba holding a 6-1 lead. The last time two nations met in consecutive World Cup Finals was in 1994 and 1998, with Cuba defeating Korea both times to win the gold.

They met for the gold medal twice before in Italy, in both 1978 and 1988.  Sunday's final will take place in Nettuno, which is referred to throughout Italy as the country's foremost baseball town.  Stadio Steno Borghes will play host to the two world baseball powers, providing a dramatic backdrop for the IBAF's crown jewel event.

Both Cuba and the United States have seen balanced offensive and pitching performances throughout the World Cup, but it is hard to ignore the prolific power numbers put up thus far by Cuba's Alfredo Despaigne and the USA's Justin Smoak.

Despaigne homered on Friday to break the Cuban and World Cup record for home runs in one event, with 10. Not to be outdone, Smoak, a Texas Rangers (MLB) prospect, already holds the U.S. Record in this World Cup with nine home runs.  His 21 RBIs also lead the club.

Cuba continues to dominate in the pitching categories as well, leading all nations with a 1.70 ERA. It has three pitchers now at 3-0, Norge Vera, Miguel and Yulieski Gonzalez, while reliever Pedro Lazo has three saves and has yet to allow a run.

On the U.S. side, Terry Tiffee (.353 4 HR 19 RBI) sits two RBIs behind Smoak for the team lead, while Jon Weber leads the team in hitting (.435 3 HR 12 RBI).  The U.S. pitching staff, which has been key in the squad's current 13-game winning streak, boasts a 1.93 ERA and is led by 3-0 Lucas Harrell (no runs allowed in 10 innings in relief) and a five-man starting rotation which has allowed a total of 12 earned runs in 83 innings.

 

25th September 2009
LATEST FROM THE BASEBALL WORLD CUP:

RESULTS FROM THE FINAL DAY OF POOL PLAY:

PUERTO RICO 4 AUSTRALIA 2: 
Carlos Rivera hit a third inning grand slam and four pitchers held Australia to just three hits in a 4-2 victory.  Tim Kennelly and Stefan Welch had hit back-to-back second inning home runs off starter Alexander Woodson to give Australia a 2-0 lead, but Rivera’s bases-clearing homer off Drew Naylor gave Puerto Rico the lead for good.  With the win, Puerto Rico (4-3) finishes Pool 1 as the No. 2 seed and will face Pool 2's No. 2, Canada (5-3), at 20:00 Saturday in Grosseto.  Australia (2-5) wraps up pool play as Pool 2's No. 3 seed and will square off against Pool 1's No. 3, the Netherlands (3-4), Saturday in Messina.

UNITED STATES 8 NETHERLANDS 2: 
Buck Coats had three hits and three RBIs, and the USA broke open a close game with a six-run sixth inning on its way to an 8-2 win. New York Mets prospect Ike Davis’ solo home run in the second gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead, and Coats’ two-run single, followed by a bases-clearing single by Justin Smoak that was helped along by a Netherlands throwing error, broke the game open in the sixth.  Kasey Kiker pitched six innings of one-hit ball and combined with three relievers for the win. Coming into Friday's game USA (7-0) had already clinched Pool 2's No. 1 seed and thus, a spot in Sunday's final at 15:00 in Nettuno. There it will face Cuba (5-2), who finished No. 1 in Pool 1, and who the U.S. beat on Thursday, 5-3. The loss moves the Netherlands moves to 3-4, good enough for the No. 3 seed in Pool 2.  It will play Australia (2-5) on Saturday in Messina at 20:00.

CUBA 5 CANADA 1: 
Yulieski Gonzalez and Pedro Lazo combined on a two-hitter to give Cuba the win the 5-1 win.  Alfredo Despaigne’s second-inning home run gave Cuba the 1-0 lead, but Adam Stern’s solo shot for Canada tied the game in the fifth.  Cuba retook the lead in the bottom of the inning, however, on Hector Olivera’s two-run double, and it added to the lead on another Olivera two-run, ground rule double in the seventh to stretch the lead to 5-1.  Despite the loss Canada (4-3) still finished with the No. 2 seed in Pool 2, and it will take on Pool 1's No. 2, Puerto Rico (4-3), Saturday at 20:00 in Grosseto. Cuba (5-2) moves on to the gold medal game, Sunday in Nettuno at 15:00, where it will face rival USA in a rematch of the 2007 World Cup final.

VENEZUELA 6 CHINESE TAIPEI 4: 
Wuilliams Vazquez hit a three-run home run in the first inning, and Venezuela held off a late rally to defeat Chinese Taipei, 6-4. Po-Yu Lo’s home run gave Taipei a 1-0 first inning lead before Venezuela rallied for four runs off of Chih-Lung Huang to take the lead for good.  It was 6-1 going into the ninth, when Chinese Taipei pushed across three runs and had the tying run on first, but Erik Arteaga got Kun-Sheng Lin on a pop up to first to end the game. Junior Guerra was the starter and winner for Venezuela.  Chinese Taipei (1-6) and Venezuela (2-5) will meet again on Saturday night, 20:00 in Firenze, in a battle of Pool 1 and 2's No. 4 seeds.

SATURDAY PREVIEWS:

3rd/4th Place Game - Puerto Rico v Canada:

Puerto Rico and Canada will end their 2009 Baseball World Cup the same way that they kicked off the third round - by playing each other. Only this time, the stakes will be much higher, as the teams square off to determine who will take home the bronze medal. In their first meeting, four Canadian pitchers combined to turn in the most impressive pitching performance of the tournament, one-hitting the Puerto Ricans and leading their team to a 3-0 victory. That feat will be tough to duplicate this time around, however, as the Puerto Rican team has been hot as of late, scoring 12 runs in its last two games.

While pitching was the story for the Canadian team last time out against Puerto Rico, the offense has been equally as important in helping the squad to what is already its best-ever World Cup finish (5th place four times (1974, 1980, 1982, 1988). The Canadians remain the tournament's highest scoring team, with 117 total runs, nine more than the second place USA squad and 25 more than third place Australia.  Rene Tosoni continues to impress with a .357 average, 16 RBIs, and tournament-leading 16 runs scored.  He has received help from his fellow outfielder, Adam Stern, who is second on the team in average (.333), and also finds himself among the tournaments leaders in hits (17) and runs (14).  Three of the four pitchers who aided in the one-hitter last Tuesday - Nick Bucci, Trystan Magnuson and Dustin Molleken - have yet to give up an earned run in the tournament, despite all pitching more than seven innings each.  Starter Matt Kniginyzky is the fourth Canadian pitcher who has an ERA of 0.00, which is even more impressive considering he has logged 18 innings pitched, which is among tournament leaders.

After dropping the first two games in Italy to Canada and the United States, Puerto Rican has stormed back with wins over Chinese Taipei and Australia and carry a great deal of momentum into its rematch with Canada.  Puerto Rico is one of the most balanced teams in the tournament, ranking in the top third in most major hitting and pitching categories. Miguel Abreu has been outstanding, leading the tournament with 22 hits and batting an even .400.  Puerto Rico has also used its great team speed to create havoc on the base paths, placing second in the tournament as a team with 13 stolen bases, with Luis Matos and Irving Falu tying for the tournament lead with four apiece.  In 16 2/3 innings of relief, Orlando Ramon has mowed down opposing hitters, leading the tournament with 26 strikeouts.  Starters Mario Santiago and Luis Atilano have also been spectacular, combining for a sterling 5-0 record and ERAs of 1.08 and 2.21, respectively.

5th/ 6th Place Game - Australia v Netherlands

In the fifth place game, Australia will take on the Netherlands at 20:00 (CET) in Messina.  The two teams met earlier in the third round, with Australia emerging victorious 5-2.  If Australia wins, it will be its best finish in the IBAF Baseball World Cup ever, with its previous best being 6th place in 2007.  The Netherlands will look to avenge its loss to Australia from earlier this round and end the tournament on a positive note.

Australia's offense has been strong throughout the World Cup, with 20 team HRs (3rd) and 85 team RBIs (3rd), and it is led by Luke Hughes (.286 AVG, 16 hits, 4 HR, 12 RBI).  Australia 's pitching has been most impressive, with starters Dushan Ruzic (1-1, 0.00 ERA, 18 IP, 11 Ks), David Welch (0-0, 1.00 ERA, 18 IP, 22 Ks) and Adam Blackley (1-0, 1.69 ERA, 16 IP, 13 Ks) leading the way.

Dutch hitters have been impressive during the World Cup with a .298 team batting average (3rd). It is led by Sidney de Jong (.371 AVG, 13 hits, 2 HR, 11 RBIs), Sharlon Schoop (.364 AVG, 16 hits, 1 HR, 8 RBIs) and Randall Simon (.333 AVG, 15 hits, 4 RBI).  The Netherlands’ pitching staff is highlighted by Tom Stuifbergen, (1-0, 1.10 ERA, 16.1 IP, 10 Ks).

7th/ 8th Place Game - Chinese Taipei v Venezuela

The battle for seventh place will be a matchup of familiar foes, as Chinese Taipei and Venezuela will square off against each other for the second consecutive day on Saturday.  Their first meeting on Saturday night featured plenty of offense, with Venezuela jumping out to an early 4-1 lead in the first inning courtesy of a Wulliams Vazquez home run.  After getting two more runs in the sixth, Venezuela looked like it was going to cruise until Chinese Taipei mounted a late three-run ninth inning rally that ultimately fell short.

Rene Reyes continues to be an offensive force for the Venezuelans, leading the tournament with 22 RBIs and also pacing the team with five home runs and 31 total bases.  At the top of the lineup, Lino Connel has done his job at getting on base, leading the team with a .370 batting average and also drawing a tournament-leading 10 bases on balls.  The Venezuelan pitching staff has also seen solid performances from Luis Torres (0.00 ERA in 10 innings pitched) and Roger Luque (17 strikeouts in 16 1/3 innings).

The story on offense for Chinese Taipei continues to be Han Lin, who is batting a team-leading .409, good for sixth in the tournament.  Cleanup hitter Hung-Yu Lin has supplied the power, with four home runs and 15 RBIs, both team highs.  Yen-Feng Lin has been the squad’s best starting pitcher, with a 1.50 ERA through three starts.  The bullpen has been anchored by Yu-Ching Lin, who despite only pitching 8.2 innings of relief, leads the team with a 3-0 record and 1.04 ERA.

NOTES:

DESPAIGNE BREAKS HOME RUN RECORD: 
Cuba’s Alfredo Despaigne' homered on Saturday to break the Cuban and World Cup record for home runs in one event, with ten. Cuba also continues to dominate on the pitching side, leading all nations with a 1.70 ERA.  Cuba has three pitchers now at 3-0,  Norge Vera, and Miguel and  Yulieski Gonzalez, while reliever Pedro Lazo has three saves and has yet to allow a run.

USA, CUBA REMATCH FOR GOLD ON SUNDAY: 
The USA will have a rematch with Cuba for the Gold Medal Sunday in Nettuno. The USA ended Cuba's nine straight World Cup titles with a 6-3 win in the Gold Medal game in Chinese Taipei in 2007, and will be looking to win back-to-back World Cup titles for the first time since 1973-74.  Cuba, the USA and Venezuela (1944-'45) are the only nations to ever win back to back titles.  The Cubans are hoping that Italy brings them luck again, as they have won all three of the World Cup title games played in Italy. This will be the seventh time Cuba and the USA have played for World Cup Gold, with Cuba holding  a 6-1 lead.  They met for the Gold Medal twice before in Italy, in both 1978 and 1988.

24th September
BASEBALL WORLD CUP LATEST UPDATES:

PUERTO RICO 8 CHINESE TAIPEI 2: 
Luis Atalano allowed just seven hits and one earned run, while Ruben Gotay had a home run and a two-run double, and Jose Valentine homered to lead Puerto Rico to the win. Raul Casanova’s RBI-single gave Puerto Rico a 1-0 first inning lead. It stretched its lead to 8-0 before Chinese Taipei pushed across a run in each of the fifth and sixth innings, but it did not score again after that.

CANADA 11 NETHERLANDS 5: 
Canada rallied from an early 4-0 deficit and used a five-run eighth to break open a close game and go on to the win. The Dutch used a Hainley Statia two-run double and RBI singles by Sharlon Schoop and Eugene Kingsale to take a 4-0 second inning lead, and it still led 5-2 in the bottom of the sixth when Canada rallied. Adam Loewen’s two-run single got them within one at 5-4, and then Shawn Bowman’s two-run home run in the seventh gave Canada the lead for good at 6-5. Canada then broke the game open in the eighth, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five runs on just three hits. Three Canada relievers held the Dutch to only two hits over the final five innings, with Trystan Magnuson getting his third win of the World Cup.

VENEZUELA 9 AUSTRALIA 4: 
Venezuela broke open a close game, scoring three runs in both the seventh and eighth innings for a come from behind win. Christopher Snelling’s two-run double in the third inning helped stake the Australians to a 3-0 lead, but a Dirimo Chavez two-run double of his own in the bottom of the inning closed the gap to 3-2 and got Australia on the scoreboard. The teams traded runs to make it 4-3 Australia, and then Venezuela took the lead for good with a three-run seventh inning, led by a two-run, two-out single by Yosnel Garcia. Rene Reyes then broke the game open for Venezuela with a three-run home run in the eighth off reliever Timothy Cox. Relievers Robert Zarate and Jose Rodriguez held Australia hitless over the game's final five innings.

USA 5 CUBA 3: 
In a rematch of the 2007 World Cup final, USA (6-0) and Cuba (4-2) didn't disappoint, playing out another classic battle with the U.S. winning, 5-3.  Team USA struck first, jumping out to a 4-0 lead after three innings behind an Ike Davis RBI-base hit, Terry Tiffee two-run home run and Jason Castro run scoring-single. Cuba answered with three runs of its own in the seventh, highlighted by a Michel Enriquez solo shot to lead off the inning.  An RBI-single from Buck Coats provided the U.S. with an insurance run in the eighth, however, as Cuba was held scoreless the rest of the way. Lucas May moved to 3-0 for Team USA, filling in for starter Trevor Reckling (injured after one inning pitched) and throwing four innings of one-hit, scoreless baseball. Cuban starter Maikel Folch was saddled with the loss after allowing three runs (two earned) in 2 2/3 innings, while Ehren Wasserman earned the save (1) for the U.S.

PREVIEWING FRIDAY'S MATCHUPS:

Cuba v Canada:

When Cuba and Canada meet for the first time in this year's Baseball World Cup, it will be a classic matchup of dominating pitching versus explosive hitting.  Cuba enters the game with a team ERA of 1.75, tops in the tournament, and has held opposing batters to a .189 average.  Canada, meanwhile, has been one of the tournament's top hitting squads, leading all teams a .317 average and 116 runs scored.

With only two losses, one being today vs. the US, Cuba has already clinched a spot in the championship game Sunday versus the United States. While its pitching has garnered most of the attention, they also boast one of the top offenses. Alfredo Despaigne has put on an incredible offensive display and is making a strong case for tournament MVP, batting .426 with a tournament leading nine home runs and 15 RBI. Hector Olivera (.387), Michel Enriquez (.349) and Ariel Pestano (.317, four home runs) have also helped pace an offensive that is batting .285 as a whole. The pitching staff is lead by the tournament's two top strikeout leaders, Miguel Gonzalez and Norge Vera, who boast a 1.83 and 0.44 ERA, respectively.

Canada's success has come from scoring runs, runs, and more runs.  Five players have scored double digit runs, including MLB Futures Game MVP Rene Tosini, who leads the tournament with 16 runs and 20 hits. Brett Lawrie (13 RBIi) and New York Mets prospect Shawn Bowman (12 RBI, game winning homer on Thursday) have also helped carry the load. The Canadian pitching staff has two members who have yet to give up an earned run in extended work; Matt Kniginyzky (18.0 innings pitched) and Brewers prospect Nick Bucci (14.1 innings pitched).

Venezuela v Chinese Taipei:

On Friday Night, Venezuela and Chinese Taipei will face off in Grosseto, Italy in the teams' final games of round robin play. Venezuela comes into the game on a high note, after beating a very strong Australian team 9-4 on Thursday night. Meanwhile, Chinese Taipei will search for its first win in Italy after dropping its first three.

Venezuela is lead on offense by Lino Connell, who is hitting .370, with 8 walks and a .473 OBP. Chinese Taipei is lead on offense by Han Lin who continues to impress with a .409 average.

With a Venezuela win, the two teams will square off again in the 7th place game on Saturday.  However, if Chinese Taipei wins and Australia loses, then Chinese Taipei will play in the 5th place game, with Australia dropping to the 7th place game on Saturday.
Venezuela and Chinese Taipei play in Grosseto on Friday Night at 7pm.  The game can be followed on http://www.facebook.com/l/ d6089;www.2009baseballworldcup.com on the CBS stat tracker.

Puerto Rico v Australia:

The last game of round robin play for Puerto Rico and Australia holds huge implications for both teams. With a 3-3 record in the third round, Puerto Rico is currently tied for second place in Pool 1 and with a victory on Friday, will give itself a shot to play for third place on Saturday. With a win, Australia, who is 2-4, will assure itself the opportunity to play in the fifth place game by virtue of its third place finish in Pool 2.

Puerto Rico is led offensively by Miguel Abreu, who is pacing the team with a .380 average.  Angel Sanchez, Luis Matos, and former Major Leaguers Alex Cintron and Jose Valentin are all also batting over .300.  The pitching staff is has gotten great performances from aces Mario Santiago, who is 2-0 with a 1.08 ERA, asnd Luis Atilano, who is a perfect 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA.

Luke Hughes has been the brightest offensive star for the Aussies, with a .302 average, four home runs, and 12 RBI  The Australian pitching staff has been stellar, lead by the triumvirate of Dushan Ruzic, David Welch, and Adam Blackley. Starters Welch and Blackley sport ERA's of 1.00 and 1.69, respectively, while Ruzic has yet to give up an earned run in 18 innings of work.

USA v Netherlands:

On Friday, Nettuno will play host to a match-up of two of the strongest teams in the Baseball World Cup when the USA faces the Netherlands. The USA has been on a tear, winning 12 straight and going 6-0 in the third round. They have clinched a spot in the World Cup Championship game to be played on Sunday, where they will defend their title vs. Cuba.
While two straight losses have knocked the Netherlands out of contention for the championship, a win on Friday would assure them a spot in the third place game.
The USA offense has continued to be strong, led by Jon Weber (.439 AVG, 3 HR, 11 RBIs), Terry Tiffee (.353 AVG, 4 HR, 19 RBIs) and Justin Smoak (.311 AVG, 9 HR, 19 RBIs).  The USA pitching, not to be overshadowed by the offense, has also done its job with a 1.96 ERA and 110 strikeouts.

The Netherlands boasts a powerful offense, collecting 110 hits and sporting a .313 team average. Sidney de Jong (.406 AVG, .525 OB%) and Sharlon Schoop (.400 AVG and 16 Hits) lead the way, while the pitching has been paced by Tom Stuifbergen, who owns a 1.10 ERA in 16.1 innings pitched.

NOTES:

USA, CUBA REMATCH FOR GOLD ON SUNDAY:
 

With insurmountable leads now in pool play, the USA will have a rematch with Cuba for the Gold Medal Sunday in Nettuno. The USA ended Cuba's nine straight World Cup titles with a 6-3 win in the Gold Medal game in Chinese Taipei in 2007, and will be looking to win back-to-back World Cupo titles for the first time since 1973-74. Cuba, the USA and Venezuela (1944-'45) are the only nations to ever win back to back titles. The Cubans are hoping that Italy brings them luck again, as they have won all three of the World Cup title games played in Italy. This will be the seventh time Cuba and the USA have played for World Cup Gold, with Cuba holding  a 6-1 lead. They met for the Gold Medal twice before in Italy, in both 1978 and 1988

22nd September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP FINAL EIGHT BEGINS TUESDAY IN ITALY:

FINAL RESULTS FROM MONDAY - RESCHEDULED GAMES:

USA 4 AUSTRALIA 3: 
Trevor Plouffe hit a two-out, two-strike walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth off Timothy Cox to give USA a 4-3 win over Australia Monday in Bologna, giving the U.S. the top seed in Group A heading into the World Cup final round. The USA had taken a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the sixth on Justin Smoak’s World Cup-leading ninth home run and a Jon Weber RBI ground out, but Australia took the lead back in the seventh, scoring one run on an error and another on a Daniel Berg sacrifice fly.  The lead was short lived, however, as the U.S. again tied the score in the bottom half of the inning on a Plouffe ground out that scored Tug Hulett from third. Australia had a chance to re-take the lead in the ninth, but reliever Ehren Wassermann got catcher Andrew Graham on a line out with runners on first and second to end the inning and set things up for the dramatics in the bottom of the ninth.

ITALY 7 NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 6: 
Juan Carlos Infante’s sacrifice fly in the bottom of the ninth scored Jairo Ramos and pushed Italy to a 7-6 win over the Netherlands Antilles in both teams' final World Cup game.  The two teams traded leads five times in the game, before Rafael Jozepha scored on an error to give Netherlands Antilles a 6-5 lead in the top of the eighth.  In the bottom of the ninth, Mario Chiarini’s one-out double scored Davide Dallospedelle with the tying run, and set up Infante’s game-winning sacrifice fly.

THE FINAL EIGHT: 
Monday’s play completed the eight-nation field that will move on to the final round. Those eight nations are The United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Chinese Taipei.

TUESDAYS POOL PLAY GAMES: 
Australia-Cuba (Grosetto), USA-Venezuela (Firenze), Chinese Taipei-Netherlands (Messina) and Canada-Puerto Rico (Nettuno)

WINNERS REMAINING IN THE FIELD: 
Of the eight teams advancing to the final round, four have won at least one of the 38 previous World Cups. Cuba is the leader with 25, followed by the United States (3), Venezuela (3) and Puerto Rico (1). The last European country to win was also the first - Great Britain in 1938. The last Asian team to win was Korea in 1982. Australia’s best finish was sixth in 2007

HOST COUNTRIES:
 
This is the first time the Baseball World Cup was held in multiple nations since its formation in 1938 - Italy will host the final for the fourth time, after hosting it in 1978, 1988, and 1998. Cuba has won all three times Italy has hosted the World Cup.

THE WORLD CUP IN EUROPE:
This is the seventh time Europe has hosted the World Cup. Great Britain hosted and won the inaugural Cup in 1938, defeating the United States, other than Italy (three times), the Netherlands hosted the World Cup in 1986 and 2005. Other than the win by Great Britain in 1938, all of the other six World Cups held in Europe have been won by Cuba.

GLOBAL HOSTS OF THE CUP:
Cuba has hosted the Cup the most times (10), while Nicaragua (5), Italy (4) and Colombia (4) have been the hosts the second and third most.  Each of the three North American countries, the United States (1974), Mexico (1951) and Canada (1990) have hosted the event once. Japan (1980), Korea (1982) and Chinese Taipei (2001 and 2007) have been Asian hosts. Venezuela has hosted the event three times and the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica have hosted the Cup once.

2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup Final Round Team Capsules:

POOL F (SECOND ROUND RECORD VS. REMAINING TEAMS IN PARENTHESIS):

#1 NETHERLANDS (2-1):

How it got here: #1 seed in Pool F . . .faces Chinese Taipei (1-2, #4 Pool G) in Messina on Tuesday . . .finished tied atop Pool F at 6-1 with Cuba and Puerto Rico, finished tied with Puerto Rico in the runs-allowed-to-tied-teams tie-break criterion (seven each, Cuba was eliminated with eight runs allowed), then won the head-to-head tie-breaker against Puerto Rico, having defeated it 5-2 in Round 2. . .enters final round with a 2-1 record (record against other three teams from Pool F to advance). . .received a bye to the second round as a host nation.

Current world rank: 6
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 4th place (two times – 2005, 2007)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (4th place)

#2 PUERTO RICO (2-1):

How it got here: #2 seed in Pool F. . .faces the Canada (1-2, #3 Pool G) in Nettuno on Tuesday. . .finished tied atop Pool F at 6-1 with Cuba and the Netherlands, finished tied with the Netherlands in the runs-allowed-to-tied-teams tie-break criterion (seven each, Cuba was eliminated with eight runs allowed), then lost the head-to-head tie-breaker against the Netherlands, having been defeated by the host nation 5-2 in Round 2. . .enters final round with a 2-1 record (record against other three teams from Pool F to advance). . .finished #2 in Round 1 Pool B in Barcelona at 2-1.

Current world rank: 10
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 1st place (1951)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (8th place)

#3 CUBA (2-1):

How it got here: #3 seed in Pool F. . .faces Australia (1-2, #2 Pool G) in Grosseto on Tuesday. . .finished tied atop Pool F at 6-1 with the Netherlands and Puerto Rico, but lost in the runs-allowed-to-tied-teams tie-break criterion (eight runs, against the Netherlands and Puerto Rico’s seven each). . .enters final round with a 2-1 record (record against other three teams from Pool F to advance). . .finished a perfect 3-0 in opening round Pool B competition in Barcelona.

Current world rank: 1
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 1st place (25 times - 1939, 1940, 1942, 1943, 1950, 1952, 1953, 1961, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1976, 1978, 1980, 1984, 1986, 1988, 1990, 1994, 1998, 2001, 2003, 2005)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (2nd place)

#4 VENEZUELA (0-3):

How it got here: #4 seed in Pool F. . .faces the United States (3-0, #1 Pool G) in Firenze on Tuesday. . .finished tied with Korea for the #4 seed, but won the head-to-head tie-breaker, having defeated the 2008 Olympic champions, 4-1, in Round 2. . .enters final round with a 0-3 record (record against other three teams from Pool F to advance). . .was the #1 in Pool E after going a perfect 3-0 in Round 1 action in Regensburg, Germany.

Current world rank: 9
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 1st place (three times – 1941, 1944, 1945)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (12th place)

POOL G:

#1 UNITED STATES (3-0):

How it got here: #1 seed in Pool G. . .faces Venezuela (0-3, #4 Pool F) in Firenze on Tuesday. . .finished the second round at 7-0. . .enters final round with a 3-0 record (record against other three teams from Pool G to advance. . .was the #2 seed at 2-1 coming out of opening round Pool E in Regensburg, Germany.

Current world rank: 4
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 1st place (three times in 1973, 1974, 2007)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (1st place)

#2 AUSTRALIA (1-2);

How it got here: #2 seed in Pool G. . .faces Cuba (2-1, #3 Pool F) in Grosseto on Tuesday. . .finished the second round at 5-2. . .enters final round with a 1-2 record (record against other three teams from Pool G to advance). . .was second in Round 1 Pool A in Prague at 2-1.

Current world rank: 11
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 6th place (2007)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (6th place)

#3 CANADA (1-2):

How it got here: #3 seed in Pool G. . .faces Puerto Rico (2-1, #2 Pool F) in Nettuno on Tuesday. . .finished the second round at 5-2. . .enters final round with a 1-2 record (record against other three teams from Pool G to advance). . .dominated Pool C in the first round in Sundyberg ( Stockholm ), Sweden , going 3-0.
Current world rank: 8
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 5th place (four times in 1974, 1980, 1982, 1988)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (9th place)

#4 CHINESE TAIPEI (1-2);

How it got here: #4 seed in Pool G. . .faces the Netherlands (2-1, #1 Pool F) in Messina on Tuesday. . .finished the second round at 5-2. . . enters final round with 1-2 record (record against other three teams from Pool G to advance). . .came into Round 2 at 1-2 after qualifying in Prague as one of the four-best Round 1 #3 seeds.

Current world rank: 5
Best World Cup result (year(s)): 2nd place (1984)
Most recent World Cup (result): 2007 (8th place)

NOTES:

CROWDED TRAFFIC ON THE WEB: 
The IBAF’s official site, http://www.facebook.com/l/8cba5;Ibaf.org has attracted over 250,000 visitors and several million page views in the first two weeks of the world cup, coming from over 150 countries, an increase of over 60% from during its last heavy visit period which was the Beijing Olympics.

21st September
Final Eight Nations Set, Seedings To Be Determined Monday As Baseball World Cup Reaches Championship:

FINAL ROUND SEEDINGS TO BE FINALIZED FOLLOWING MONDAYS PLAY: 
The rain-effected second schedule will be concluded with two games on Monday in Italy, including a crucial USA-Australia makeup matchup which will determine seeding for the final round of the right top remaining nations in the 2009 World Cup.  The pairings, seedings and sites will be announced immediately following Australia-USA.

THE FINAL EIGHT:
Sunday’s play finalised the eight nations that will move on to the final round. Those eight nations are The United States, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Netherlands, Australia, Canada and Chinese Taipei. 

SUNDAY’S SCORES:

USA 12 ITALY 3:

Justin Smoak’s Team USA World Cup record and tournament-leading seventh and eighth home runs highlighted his squad’s 12-3 win over host nation Italy.  Smoak finished the night 2-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBIs, continuing his tear through the World Cup.  Buck Coats and Trevor Plouffe also hit home runs for the U.S., and Kasey Kiker got the win.  With the victory, Team USA stays unbeaten in the second round at 6-0 and is left with a rain make-up game against Australia (5-1) on Monday to decide the final seeding among the top two teams in Pool G.  Jack Santora and Davide Dallospendale each had one RBI for Italy.  The defeat took the Italians to 1-5 and out of contention for a final round bid.  It faces the Netherlands Antilles Monday in the day’s other rain make-up game.

CUBA 5 NETHERLANDS 3:
Yousvany Peraza’s three run double in the third inning gave the visiting Cubans an early lead they never relinquished in knocking the Dutch from the undefeated ranks with a 5-3 win before 4,000 in Rotterdam. Sharlon Schoop’s home run cut the lead to 3-1 in the bottom of the third, but an Alfredo Despaigne home run and a Luis Navas RBI double in the eighth pushed the lead to 5-1, before Hainley Statia’s two run home run closed the gap again to two runs, 5-3, in the bottom of the inning.  The Netherlands had the tying run at the plate with one out in the ninth and a runner on first, but Pedro Lazio, got the final two outs to seal the victory.  Yulieski Gonzalez went 7 1/3 innings for Cuba to get the win, allowing three runs on just four hits.

CANADA 5 CHINESE TAIPEI 3:
Sunday’s rain-shortened Canada vs. Chinese Taipei match-up featured two teams guaranteed a spot in the final round, and it lived up to the billing, with Canada pulling out a close, 5-3 win.  The victory pulls the Canadians even with Chinese Taipei in the win-loss columns at 5-2, but Canada secures the #3 seed, owning the tie-breaker with Sunday night’s win.  Chinese Taipei will be the #4 seed.  Canada was buoyed by a Rene Tosoni home run, continuing his run as Canada’s leading hitter in the World Cup.  Starter Jamie Richmond was solid in the start for Canada, allowing three earned runs in five innings.  Chinese Taipei held the lead twice Sunday night, but Canada answered each time, eventually pulling away in the sixth.  Chung-Chun Wu was 1-for-2 with two RBIs for Chinese Taipei.  As has been the case throughout much of Pool G’s second round schedule, torrential rains moved into the area during the contest, resulting in the game being called after the sixth inning.

JAPAN 9 NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 1:
In match-up between the last two teams in Pool G, Japan (2-5) kept the Netherlands Antilles (0-6) winless in Round 2, topping the Caribbean nation 10-1. Leadoff hitter Ikuhiro Kiyota led the attack for 2009 World Baseball Classic champion Japan, going 3-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and three RBIs, and Motoki Higa secured the win, going five stellar innings, striking out 10 and giving up only the one earned run.  Netherlands Antilles could not follow-up its first round success (2-1; Pool C; Sundbyberg, Sweden) and will face host nation Italy in a rain make-up game on Monday to wrap-up World Cup play.  Andley Simmons led the Netherlands Antilles going 3-for-4 at the plate with an RBI, while Simon Pantoplet took the loss, giving up 10 runs (eight earned) in five innings pitched.

AUSTRALIA 6 MEXICO 5:
Another Australia-Mexico showdown, another one-run game.  In a rematch of the top two teams in Prague’s Pool A, Australia (5-1) avenged its opening round 10-9 loss to Mexico (2-5), this time holding it off for a 6-5. The Aussies were guaranteed a spot in the final round coming into the game, while Mexico was already eliminated from the final round, failing to capture the magic it found as a 3-0 Round 1 winner.  Australia moves into tomorrow’s rain make-up showdown against the USA (6-0) with the number one overall seed in Pool G on the line.  Bradley Harman led the Australia attack Sunday night, going 1-for-2 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs.  Abel Martinez was 2-for-3 with three RBIs for Mexico, including a home run that brought his squad within one run in the top of the ninth.

KOREA 2 SPAIN 1:
Korea rallied late, scoring the tie breaking run on an eighth inning bases loaded walk, and held on to defeat Spain 2-1 in Amsterdam Sunday. Paco Figueroa’s two out RBI single off starter Seung-Lak Sonhad given Spain a 1-0 lead in the sixth, but South Korea tied the game at 1-1 in the seventh on a Buong-Gon Jeung RBI single off Pedro Balmonte, and then took the lead for good in the eighth, when Hun-Gon Kim walked with the bases loaded and two outs against Rheiner Cruz. Spain had the tieing run on third and the go ahead run on second in the top of the ninth, but Ji-Woong Yoon struck out pinch hitter Lesther Galvan to ground out to end the game.

VENEZUELA 6 GREAT BRITAIN 1:
Venezuela’s pitchers Roger Luque and Erik Arteaga combined to scatter eight hits and hold Great Britain to one run in a 6-1 win in Haarlem. Venezuela took advantage of three walks and a wild pitch to take a 1-0 first inning lead, extended it to 2-0 on a Yosnel Garcia sacrifice fly in the fourth and then scored four runs on six hits, including a two run double by Michael Sandoval, to break the game open in the seventh.

PUERTO RICO 16 NICARAGUA 0:
Nicaragua’s pitching staff had allowed a total of 25 runs in their first nine games, but Puerto Rico exploded for 16 runs, including an eight run sixth, to defeat their Latin rivals 16-0 in Haarlem. Puerto Rico scored a pair of unearned runs in the first and another in the fourth, and were leading 5-0 after five when they broke the game open, sending 11 men to bat in a 7 hit (all singles), eight run inning. Seven different players picked up RBI’s in the inning.  Alexander Woodson pitched six shutout innings to earn the win for Puerto Rico, combining with Melvin Pizarro on a six hitter, Puerto Rico’s second shutout and fifth straight win.  Stephen Morales and Miguel Negron each had three hits to lead the balanced Puerto Rico attack.

NOTES: 

ON TO THE FINAL ROUND:
Following Monday’s makeup games, the final round of the 2009 Baseball World Cup will begin with four games on Tuesday in Grosetto, Nettuno, Firenze and Messina.  The final round will continue all week, with the Gold Medal game being played Sunday, 27 September in Nettuno, Italy.

NO UNBEATEN TEAM LEFT:
Sunday’s win by Cuba over the Netherlands knocked the final country from the ranks of the unbeaten. Entering Monday’s makeup games the Unites States now owns the longest current win streak in the World Cup at seven games, after losing their tournament opener to Venezuela in Regensburg, Germany 13-9 in 11 innings. Canada and Puerto Rico own the second longest winning streak at five, with both having completed their second round play.

USA SMOAK’S ITS WAY INTO THE HOME RUN RECORD BOOK:
Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak had his record third two home run game on Sunday vs. Italy, giving him a World Cup best eight home runs thus far. 

CUBA STILL SETTING THE PITCHING PACE:   
Cuba’s quest to regain the World Cup continues to be led by its Tournament-leading pitching staff, which has compiled a 1.76 ERA during its 9-1 run thus far. The Cuban staff has amassed 103 strikeouts thought the first two rounds (second only to Japan’s total of 120) and given up only 22 walks and three home runs.   Cuban pitcher Norge Vera is 2-0 and has yet to allow a run in 14 innings, while his teammate Freddy Alvarez is 2-0 and has allowed one earned run in 15 innings. 

DUTCH FINISH IMPRESSIVE ROUND AT 6-1 ON HOME TURF:
 
The Netherlands continued their emergence on the international baseball scene, going 6-1 with a lone loss to Cuba in Round Two. The Dutch are second only to Australia in team batting average .325 and are led by  San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop, who is hitting .464 (13-28), while Los Angeles Angels prospect Hainley Statia (10-24, .417) and former Baltimore Oriole Eugene Kingsale is hitting at a .368 pace.

AUSSIE HITTING SHOES STAY ON: 
Australia enters Monday’s game with the USA leading all teams with a .328 average, and third in runs scored with 77.  Australia’s only two losses thus far have been by one run to Mexico (10-9) and Chinese Taipei (5-4), both of which they have avenged.  Philadelphia Phillies  prospect Joel Naughton continues to set the hitting pace for Australia with  a .478 mark (11-23), with Minnesota Twins prospect James Bereford hitting .343 (12-35) and two other teammates hitting .333, Phillies prospect Timothy Kennelly and Pirates Christopher Snelling.

WOW CANADA:
 
The team leading all nations in runs scored through two rounds is Canada. The Canadians have scored 9.3 rpg in their 8-2 run thus far, and are led by Minnesota Twins prospect Rene Tosoni .390 3 HR, 11 RBI.


September 18th
2009 BASEBALL WORLD CUP RESULTS AND NOTES

KEY MATCHUPS ON TAP SATURDAY:
There will again be eight games played on Saturday in the Netherlands and Italy, including key matchups between South Korea and Cuba and the United States and Mexico.  The complete schedule can  be found at  http://www.facebook.com/l/4f150; 2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10

USA-AUSTRALIA RAINED OUT FRIDAY: 
Friday’s USA-Australia game was rained out. Make up date is TBD.

CHINESE TAIPEI 1 MEXICO 0 (10): 
Chia-Hao Chang scored on a wild pitch in the bottom half of the tenth inning to give Chinese Taipei a 1-0 win in Verona. Yen-Feng Lin and Yu-Ching Lin combined on a three hit 10 inning shutout.  Mexico had the bases loaded in the top of the tenth, but Cristian Presichi struck out swinging to end the threat.  Mexico’s three pitchers did not allow a Chinese Taipei runner to even reach third until the tenth inning as shortstop Han Lin was the only Chinese Taipei batter with more than one hit in the game.

ITALY 6 JAPAN 4:
 
The homestanding Italians posted a come from behind win in Provini, their first of the World Cup. Japan had a 2-0 lead on a two run, two out single by Kenji Suzuki in the second, but solo home runs by Mario Chiarini and Leonardo Zileri in the fourth and fifth tied the score, and a bases loaded, three run double by Franceso Impiriali in the sixth helped break the game open. Japan closed to within 6-4 in the ninth and had the bases loaded and one out, but reliever Franklin Torres struck out Tsutomu Sasaki and Go Yamaoka to end the game.   

NICARAGUA 9 SPAIN 5:

Nicaragua snapped a two game losing streak, as Juan Oviedo hit a three run first inning home run and Justo Rivas hit a two run shot in the fifth to lead the win.  Spain took advantage of two Nicaragua errors in the sixth to close to within 7-5, but a pair of bases loaded walks in the seventh pushed the lead back to 9-5, and pitchers Julio Raudez and Jose Saenz held Spain scoreless the rest of the way. Oviedo’s 3-4, 4 RBI day led Nicaragua, who overcame five errors in the game in Amsterdam.

NETHERLANDS 6 GREAT BRITAIN 0: 
Tom Stuifbergen and two relievers pitched an eight hit shut out as the Dutch remained undefeated with an 8-0 win over Great Britain in Rotterdam. Raily Legito’s second inning leadoff home run and an RBI triple by Hainley Statia gave the Netherlands a 2-0 lead they would never relinquish.  Statia, Legito, Eugene Kingsale and Sharlon Shoop all had two hits apiece for the Dutch.  Christopher Berset went 3-4 for Great Britain.

VENEZUELA 4 SOUTH KOREA 1:
Dirimi Chavez broke a 1-1 tie with a sixth inning leadoff home run as Venezuela defeated South Korea in Haarlem. Venezuela’s Orlando Perdomo pitched five no-hit innings but left a 1-1 tie, and Young-Hun Cho broke up the no-hit bid with a single, South Korea’s only hit of the game, in the sixth against Robert Zarate. Zarate and Jose Rodriguez held South Korea without a hit the rest of the way.

PUERTO RICO 5 CUBA 2:
Puerto Rico handed Cuba their first defeat of the World Cup, as Luis Matos’ leadoff eighth inning home run and a two run double by Jose Valentin broke a 2-2 eighth inning tie in Amsterdam.  Irving Falu’s third inning RBI single gave Puerto Rico a 1-0 lead, but Alfredo Despaigne’s fourth inning home run tied the score, before Puerto Rico retook the lead in the bottom of the inning when Matos was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, scoring Angel Sanchez. A fifth inning Ariel Pestano homer tied the game, and four Puerto Rico relievers held Cuba to just two hits over the final four innings. 

CANADA 19  NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 2: 
Team Canada pounded out 17 hits and scored in all but one inning against the Netherlands Antilles in Godo, Italy. Rene Tosoni, Brett Lawrie and Emerson Frostad had three hits each and Jimmy Van Ostrand’s three run first inning home run keyed the early onslaught. Lawrie and Shawn Bowman also homered for Canada, and Brooks McNiven pitched all six innings for the win.

NOTES:

DUTCH LONE UNDEFEATED TEAM AT 5-0 ON HOME TURF: 
The Netherlands improved their record to 5-0 with Friday’s win.  San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop, who played with Connecticut of the Eastern League this season, is hitting .550 (11-20) in the first five games, while Los Angeles Angels prospect Hainley Statia (7-16, .438) and former Baltimore Oriole Eugene Kingsale is hitting at a .368 pace. The Netherlands are leading all teams with a .344 batting average.

PUERTO RICO  COMING ON STRONG:
 
Friday’s win by Puerto Rico was their third straight and followed one run wins over South Korea and Great Britain.  Puerto Rico’s mix of veterans and rising stars is led by Baltimore Orioles prospect Miguel Abreu, their leading hitter at .387 (11 hits) and a team best eight runs scored.

CHINESE TAIPEI PITCHING BOUNCES BACK: 
Chinese Taipei bounced back from their 14-3 loss Thursday to the USA to shutout hard hitting Mexico in 10 innings Friday. Yu-Ching Lin is 3-0 in relief for Chinese Taipei to lead all pitchers in wins, and in their four wins their staff  has allowed just four earned runs in their last 47 innings of work.

CUBA STOPPED BUT STILL SETTING THE PITCHING PACE:
  
Cuba’s quest to regain the World Cup was slowed a bit by Puerto Rico Friday, but they are still leading the World Cup  in pitching.  Led by a staff with a 1.70 ERA and 89 strikeouts vs. only 19 walks, and one home run allowed.  Cuban pitcher Norge Vera raised his record to 2-0 on Wednesday and has yet to allow a run in 14 innings, while Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971. 

NICARAGUA BALANCED ATTACK CONTINUES: 
Led by veteran 3B Jimmy Morales Gonzalez and a solid pitching staff, Nicaragua has remained in the World Cup mix.  The 31 year old Gonzalez is the World Cup’s leading hitter, (.500 16-32 5 HR 14 RBI).

CANADA PULLS THREE STRAIGHT TOGETHER: 
Canada had their third straight win Friday, led by a pitching staff that has allowed just two runs per game over the last three. 1B Tim Smith, now a Texas Rangers prospect, is leading a balanced attack (.500 10-20 2 HR 9 RBI), while Minnesota Twins Rene Tosoni is hitting .400 (14-35).

RECORDBREAKERS THUS FAR: 
The World Cup thus far has seen several team and World Cup records tied for fall. They include:
--Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez striking out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971.
--Australia pitcher and Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect David Welch set an Australian record with 13 strikeouts in just seven innings Tuesday against Chinese Taipei.
--USA pitcher and California Angels prospect Trevor Reckling, had 11 K’s against China last Saturday, tying the team mark of pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.
--USA infielder and Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez set a team mark by hitting three home runs in Thursday’s win over Chinese Taipei.

METS PROSPECT DAVIS NAMED ORGANIZATION PLAYER OF THE YEAR: 
Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick, is hitting .417  and was named the Organisation’s Minor League Player of the Year on Thursday. The New York Mets organization is represented by 13 players, eight current and four former players. In addition to Davis,  infielders Shawn Bowman and Jonathan Malo are playing for Team Canada, infielder Stefan Welch is playing for  Australia and is second on the team with 3 HR and 8 RBI, right handed pitcher Montero Cruz is  playing for Spain, catcher Kai Gronauer  represented Germany, left-handed pitcher Arturo Lopez  plays for Mexico and infielder Ray Van Gurp is on the Netherlands roster.  Puerto Rico’s roster has four former Mets players not currently signed to an MLB team, including Jose Santiago, Raul Casanova, Luis Matos, Jose Valentin and Juan Padilla.  Valentin is tied for Puerto Rico’s lead in runs scored with six.

EXTRA INNING RULE:
The IBAF’s Extra Inning Rule, designed to control the length of games, has now been used six times, with Chinese Taipei (3-0) and Australia (1-1) going to extra innings the most thus far. For extra innings, each team starts their half of the inning with runners on first and second and no out.  Each subsequent inning starts the same until a winner is determined.  A version of the rule, starting in the 11th inning, was implemented during the Beijing Olympics and was used five times, with only one game going an additional inning before being decided.  The World Baseball Classic adapted the rule, starting in the 14th inning, but it was never put into effect.

9th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP DAY ONE SUMMARIES

Australia 17 Czech Republic 4
The Aussies opened the 2009 World Cup by pounding out four home runs and 20 hits in a win in Prague. 1B Stefan Welch went 4-6, while OF Tim Kennelly went 3-5 with a pair of home runs and four RBI and DH Andrew Graham went 3-6. Ten Aussies had at least one hit. Martin Schneider went 2-4 with a homerun for the host Czechs. Australia used eight different pitchers in the game.

Spain 15 South Africa 0 (6 innings)

The host Spaniards pounded out 16 hits in just six innings to post the first shutout of the tournament. Catcher Dewis Navarro went 3-4 with 4 RBI and CF Daniel Figueroa went 3-4 for Spain. Two pitchers, Eric Gonzales (5 inn.) and Remigio Leal combined on a two hitter.

Netherlands Antilles 10 Sweden 8
The game of the day took place in Sundyberg, where over 1,200 fans almost saw Sweden rally in the bottom of the ninth against The Netherlands. Antilles broke the game open with six unearned runs in the top of the ninth, four on Jair Joseph’s Grand Slam, to give them a 10-2 lead. However 2B Adam Sorgi started a Sweden rally with the third of his three hits, and catcher Bjorn Johannssen brought the Swedes within two with his third hit, a three run homer with two outs to narrow the gap. However, Ludwin Obispo got pinch hitter Per Lindgren to hit into a double play and then ended the rally by getting Tony Dermendziev to line to center to end the game.

Germany 14 China 1 (7 innings)
A crowd of over 5,000 saw the host Germans defeat China in their opener. Germany broke the game open with a seven run third inning’s 3b Dominik Wulf went five for five with a double, homer and five RBI for Germany.

NEWS AND NOTES


WORLD CUP ON THE WEB:  The World Cup website is providing live streaming of select games and live scoring of all the games in the tournament.  In addition, Thursday’s Italy-Netherlands pre-World Cup tune up (Italy and the Netherlands had byes in round one) on  http://www.facebook.com/l/574c1;www.raisport.rai.it and will be seen live on Rai Sport Piu.

SWEDEN OPENS NEW STADIUM: Sweden opened their new field in Nykoping over the past weekend, dropping a pair of exhibition games to Korea. The state of the art facility in Sundyberg, just outside Stockholm, is expecting a near capacity crowd for Saturday’s matchup between Sweden and Canada.

MINNESOTA TWINS HAVE TEN IN THE CUP:  The amount of players under professional contracts playing in the Baseball World Cup is well over 100, a record for the World Cup, but the Major League Organisation with the most players is the Minnesota Twins, who have ten players playing in the event. The Pittsburgh Pirates have six prospects playing in the classic.

THE AUSSIE TWINS: Of the 10 Twins-affiliated players in the event, six are with Australia. The latest addition to the A-Roos was Grafton, Australia  teenager Justin Linger, who turned 19 Monday when he received the call to replace Justin Huber who was called up to the Twins...pitcher Bradley Tippett was an All-Star selection in the Appalachian League after going 8-3 for Elizabethton in the Twins minor league system as well...four Aussies played together in Beloit, WI at the Class A level as well.

USA LOOKS FOR TITLE DEFENSE: The United States snapped Cuba’s nine straight World Cup titles in 2007, taking the Gold Medal game from Cuba 6-2. They will begin their title defence against Venezuela Thursday before playing host Germany on Friday, September 11, in a game that will be televised live in the United States on the MLB Network at 1:00 EDT. The 2007 USA team, which featured future MLB players Evan Longoria, Andy LaRoche and Jayson Nix (who won MVP), will look to a current team which features seven first round draft picks, including Pittsburgh Pirates draftee Pedro Alzarez, who hit a combined .288 with 27 HR and 95 RBI in his just-completed minor league season.

GERMANY READY FOR REGENSBURG TEST: Over 25,000 people are expected to attend the first round games in Regensburg, Germany this week, and the Germans readied for the first round two China and the USA by sweeping a series from Great Britain over the weekend. The Germans have a number of players currently making their way up the professional ranks and will be led by catcher Kai Gronauer, who hit .243 with 6 HR 23 RBI for New York Mets affiliate Savannah this past year. Gronauer was slowed by a thumb injury late in the year but played in Thursday’s opener.

ll and the Olympics to the largest possible audience year-round for the next seven years, a claim which none of the other sports can offer. Even from a finance standpoint, the amount of money in ticket revenue that could be generated in a five day tournament in two stadiums in Tokyo or Chicago (two of the potential cities) could be in excess of $30 million dollars, while Rio or Madrid would still offer up crowds in excess of 10,000 people per day.

So has baseball made its best pitch for Olympic re-inclusion? If you look at the facts you have to say yes. As a matter of fact, the entire process has probably done more to grow the game, from the addressing of anti-doping to the increased play in nations around the world, than if baseball did not have to fight to get back into the Olympics. The real downside will be the young people who will no longer get that exposure to a sport that is all-inclusive, teaches fair play and discipline, is relatively inexpensive to play and promotes healthy physical activity. That is a fairly large downside in terms of development for the future, but one thing is for sure, baseball is a sport that has always shown resilience, and even with a thumbs down from the IOC, it will find a way to make sure it continues to grow around the world.

10th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP DAY TWO RESULTS AND NOTES

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JAPAN 9 GREAT BRITAIN 7:
They had not won a World Cup game since 1938, but Great Britain almost pulled off one of the greatest upsets in international baseball history Thursday in Zagreb, Croatia. Japan led 9-2 entering the last half of the ninth before England rallied for five runs, including three on a home run by Samuel Wiley (his third hit of the game), and had the bases loaded with two out before P Eiichi Hirai struck out pinch hitter Richard Klijn to end the game. The game almost ended two batters earlier, when 2B Timothy Collins struck, out but the ball got away from the catcher allowing Collins to advance to first base and the seventh run to score. Bradley Marcelino followed with a single to load the bases again before the final out.

VENEZUELA 13 USA 9 (11 inn.): 
Venezuela came from 7-2 down to surprise the defending World Cup champions before a near capacity crowd in Regensburg, Germany. Dirimo Chavez’s Grand Slam in the eleventh inning off P Nate Field, Venezuela’s second grand slam in three innings, capped the comeback, which saw Venezuela tie the game at 7-7 in the ninth on former Colorado Rockies outfielder  Rene Reyes’ Grand Slam off pitcher Jason Childers.  The U.S. had grabbed the early lead on a pair of Justin Smoak homers and another by Tug Hulett and appeared to be in control until Venezuela’s ninth inning rally.  In the tenth the IBAF extra inning rule took effect, with teams starting the inning with runners on first and second to start the frame and both teams took advantage, first Venezuela scored a pair to take their first lead of the game at 9-7, but the U.S. rallied to knot the score and force the eleventh, setting the stage for Chavez’s dramatics. 

NICARAGUA 10 CROATIA 1:
Nicaragua jumped out to a 9-0 lead and used a balanced 13 hit attack to defeat homestanding Croatia in Zagreb, the Croatians first-ever game in World Cup competition. Nicaragua’s Jimmy Morales hit a two run first inning home run, and followed that up with another three run homer in the fifth to break the game open. Esteban Garcia also homered for Nicaragua, who used four pitchers on a combined five hitter.

CUBA 10 PUERTO RICO 0:

A standing room-only crowd saw the Cubans begin the road back to avenging their defeat in the Gold Medal game in 2007 with a 10-0 seven inning win over Caribbean rival Puerto Rico. Cuba got all the runs they needed in the first inning, as Leonia Martin led the game off with a double and scored on a Yuliski Gourriel single. Gourriel later scored on an Alfredo Despaigne single, staking starter Norge Vera to a 2-0 lead. Vera struck out the first four batters he faced, and Puerto Rico could only manage three hits in the seven innings. 

CANADA 9 KOREA 1

Canada broke open a close game with an eight run seventh inning and went on to defeat Korea in the opener for both teams. Adam Loewen’s second double of the night drove in DH Tim Smith with the go-ahead run.  Milwaukee Brewers prospect Nick Bucci hurled five three hit shutout innings to get things started for Canada, while Korea’s Kyung-Eun Noh allowed one run over six innings before the seventh inning meltdown.  .

MEXICO 8 CHINESE TAIPEI 0
 
Jesus Cota hit three home runs, including a three run shot in the seventh inning, to lead Mexico to their opening win. Rafael Diaz went six innings to get the win.

EXTRA INNING RULE TAKES EFFECT: 
The IBAF’s Extra Inning Rule, designed to control the length of games, took effect for the first time in the World Cup Thursday in Germany.  For extra innings, each team starts their half of the inning with runners on first and second and no out.  Each subsequent inning starts the same until a winner is determined.  A version of the rule, starting in the11th inning, was implemented during the Beijing Olympics and was used five times, with only one game going an additional inning before being decided. The World Baseball Classic adapted the rule, starting in the 14th  inning, but it was never put into effect. Thursday both Venezuela and the United States scored two runs in the10th inning before Venezuela’s four run eleventh inning decided the game. 

EARLY ATTENDANCE SOLID:
The first two days of play have seen standing room crowds in Barcelona for Cuba-Puerto Rico (capacity 2,500), near capacity crowds of over 5,500 in Regensburg, Germany, a first day crowd of 2,500 in Prague and a crowd of over 1,500 in Sundyberg.  Sundyberg is expecting near capacity for Saturday, and Regensburg is expecting a sell out for Friday’s game with the United States. Ticket sales in the Netherlands and Italy for the second round are also very strong, with teams at select sites still to be determined. The warm up series between Italy and the Netherlands in the Netherlands this week has also drawn near capacity crowds. Italy and the Netherlands had first round byes in the World Cup.   

METS, YANKS PROSPECTS GIVE CUP A NEW YORK FLAVOR
:
Besides the 10 Minnesota Twins prospects in the World Cup, the New York Mets organisation is represented by eight players, second most among Major League teams. Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick, also played on the USA 18 and under National Team in 2004 and Team USA’s 16 and under National Team in 2003. Davis hit .298 (128-429) with 31 doubles, 20 home runs and 71 RBI in 114 games between St. Lucie (A) of the Florida State League and Binghamton (AA) of the Eastern League this year. Infielders Shawn Bowman and Jonathan Malo will play for Team Canada, infielder Stefan Welch will represent Australia, right handed pitcher Montero Cruz will play for Spain, catcher Kai Gronauer will represent Germany, lefthanded pitcher Arturo Lopez will play for Mexico and infielder Ray Van Gurp will play for Netherlands. New York Yankees organisation has four players, including Mexico’s Arturo Lopez and Australia’s Stefan Welch, who went 4-6 in Australia’s opening win.

SAMARANCH ATTENDS OPENER, DIPLOMACY REIGNS IN BARCELONA:
Former International Olympic Committee president Juan Antonio Samaranch attended Spain’s opening win over South Africa. Samaranch was instrumental in bringing baseball to the Olympic programme in Barcelona in 1992. Baseball was denied re-entry into the Olympics for 2016 recently, making it the largest sport in the world not on the Olympic programme.  On Thursday, Bruce Bourbeau, the U.S. consul stationed in Barcelona was joined by Ayaz Hussain, consul general from Pakistan for the Puerto Rico-Cuba game. Hussain´s son Syed Zohair Hussain, was also in attendance and became a very quick fan..

DIAMONDS ON THE FIELD AND IN THE GALLERY
In conjunction with the Baseball World Cup, an Italian exhibit entitled battiti tra diamanti e diamanti, "heartbeats between diamonds and diamonds" has opened in Rome. The exhibit combines baseball with paintings, music and jewels. The organisers have brought in painters Ottorino Mancioli, Rocco Dubbini, Antonio Rovaldi, Donatella Spaziani and Adrian Tranquilli who link the passion of baseball to the passion of the arts.

11th September 2009
BASEBALL WORLD CUP RESULTS AND NOTES:  DAY THREE

Australia 7 Chinese Taipei 5: 
Australia broke a 5-5 tie in the bottom of the eighth to edge Chinese Taipei 7-5.  The Aussies jumped out to a 4-0 third inning lead, three runs coming on Tim Kennelly’s third home run in the first two games of the World Cup, but Chinese Taipei rallied to cut the lead to 4-3 on OF Chung-Chun Wu’s three run homer in the sixth. Australia held a 5-3 lead in the top of the eighth, but Chinese Taipei tied the game at five on 1B Kuo-Min Lin’s two out, two run homer off reliever Matthew Williams. Australia then broke the tie in the bottom of the eighth, when James Beresford hit a two out two run homer off reliever Ching-Ming Wang. Chinese Taipei had the tying runs on with one out in the ninth, but reliever Adam Bright struck out Chia-Yu Lin and got Hsin-Min Wang to ground out to end the game.

Peurto Rico 5 Spain 3: 
Puerto Rico jumped out to a 4-0 lead and then held on to defeat Spain 5-3 in Barcelona, giving each team a split of their first two games. Ruben Gotay’s second inning lead off homer gave Puerto Rico the lead, Spain cut the score to 4-3 in the sixth and setting up a tense couple of innings. Carlos Rivera led off the top of the eight for Puerto Rico with a double and moved to third on a wild pitch. Then Spanish manager Mauro Mazzotti brought in right hander Rhiner Cruz, who struck out Raul Casanova and Gotay, and got Alex Cintron to pop to short left, but shortstop Nestor Perez and left fielder Luis Perez bumped into each other, causing the ball dropped free and give Puerto Rico an insurance run. In the bottom of the eight, Spain had the tying runs in scoring position, but reliever Melvin Pizarro struck out Montiel.Ruerto to end the threat. 

United States 9 Germany 1:
A crowd of just under 10,000 had their upset hopes dashed, as Todd Redmond allowed two hits and one run and struck out seven over eight innings to give the  defending Champions from the U.S. their first win of 2009. New York Mets prospect Ike Davis’ second inning homer, his first of three hits on the night, gave the U.S. a 1-0 lead. They stretched it to 4-0 with a trio of runs on three hits in the third and then broke the game open with another three in the sixth, two coming on a Buck Coates homer. Trevor Plouffe and Justin Smoak also homered for the U.S.

Nicaragua 10 Great Britain 0: 
For the second straight game, 3B Jimmy Morales hit a pair of home runs, leading Nicaragua to the seven innings win. 1B Sandor Mayorca also homered twice for Nicaragua, who have outscored their first two opponents by a combined score of 20-1

Cuba 10 South Africa 5:
The Cubans moved to 2-0 and held off South Africa in Barcelona.  Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Gift Ngoepe got South Africa started with a single and scored on a first inning error, but Alfredo Despaign’s home run in the second tied the score, and Cuba broke the game open with three straight solo homers (Espinoza, Sotelo and Morales)  in the third. South Africa did rally with a four run sixth, again started by a Ngoepe double, but they never got any closer than 9-6.

Venezuela 17 China 2
Venezuela continued their torrid hitting display, scoring seven runs on six hits in the first inning and went on to trounce China 17-2 in five innings. Luis Landaeta’s two run shot opened the floodgates in the first inning and Venezuela never looked back. Starting pitcher Junior Guerra gave his team a solid start allowing just 2 runs on 3 hits, while striking out seven and walking two.

Japan 13 Croatia 3:
The powerful Japanese again had trouble against a European novice before breaking open a close game in the seventh inning and going on to a 13-3 win in a game shortened by rain. Japan jumped out to a 2-0 first inning lead, but Croatia’s Josip Broznic hit a three run homer off Japan’s Tomohisa Otani to give Croatia a 3-2 third inning lead. Japan tied it in the fourth on a double by shortstop Ken Kume and then took the lead for good at 4-3 an inning later when Keiji Ikebe. They broke the game open in the sixth, when RF Hisayoshi Chono hit a bases loaded triple to give Japan a 7-3 lead, and they then scored six more in the seventh, coming off home runs by Go Yamaoka and Tsutomu Sasaki, and improved their record to 2-0

Canada 15 Netherlands Antilles 0:
Matt Kniginyzky and Vince Perkins combined on a one hit shutout, and Canada steadily built a lead and then exploded for eight runs in the seventh to beat the Netherlands Antilles.  Rene Tosoni’s first inning homer gave Canada the 1-0 lead, Jonathan Malo hit a two run homer in the fourth to stretch the lead to 5-0. A two run single by Adam Stern and  a three run homer by Brett Lawrie did the most damage in the seventh, as Canada pounded out 13 hits to move to 2-0.

Mexico 9 Czech Republic 0: 
For the second straight game, Mexican pitchers combined for a shutout, this time downing the hosts in Prague before 1,500 disappointed fans.  Middle reliever Francisco Cordova struck out nine in six innings, and Mexico broke the game open with a four run third inning, three of the runs coming on a Sergio Contreras home run. Edgar Quintero and Ivan Terraza also homered for Mexico.

Korea 5 Sweden 1: 
The largest crowd ever to see a baseball game in Sweden had their upset hopes dashed, as pitcher Seung-Lak Son went eight innings and allowed only a solo home run to centerfielder Peter Johannessen to lead the visiting Koreans. Team Korea jumped out to a two-run lead in the first inning, capitalizing on three walks by Sweden's knuckleball pitcher Kent Karlsson. Eui-Ji Yang put Korea on the board, driving in a run with a ground ball to the shortstop and Yong-Kyu Choi added a run with an RBI-double.

NEWS AND NOTES

CUBA'S GONZALEZ JUST MISSES STRIKEOUT MARK:  Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez today struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico, one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971.  Gonzalez struck out 13 with one walk in 6 1/3 innings in earning the win for Cuba.

SPAIN HAS TWIN ORIOLES:  Spain’s baseball playing twin brothers, Daniel and Paco Figueroa, spent last season with the Bowie Baysox of the AA Eastern League, and are property of the Baltimore Orioles.  They are so alike they even spent the same time on the disabled list last season, but with different injuries.  Both have been impressive at the plate thus far, with Daniel going 3-8 and Paco 3-7 in Spain’s 1-1 start.

MEXICO. NICARAGUA KINGS OF THE HILL THUS FAR: Through their first two games, neither Mexico nor Nicaragua have allowed an earned run.  Mexico’s pitchers have 23 strikeouts and have allowed 12 hits in 18 innings, while Nicaragua has allowed one unearned run in their first two games, both of which they have won by mercy rule.

FORMER MAJOR  LEAGUE STARS WALKER, PIAZZA, WHITT ON THE COACHING LINES:  Team Canada’s continued success stems from their coaching staff.  Head coach Ernie Whitt spent 15 seasons in the Major Leagues as a catcher with the Blue Jays, Braves, Red Sox and Orioles, and was a 1985 All-Star.  Canadian coach Larry Walkerspent 17 seasons with  the Montreal Expos, Colorado Rockies, and St. Louis Cardinals and was National League Most Valuable Player in 1997 and was a five time All-Star. Italy will begin play in Round Two and will have Mike Piazza on their bench.  Piazza, easily one of the greatest catchers in Major League history, was a 16-year veteran for the Dodgers, Marlins, Mets and Padres and was a 10-time all-star. 

LEAVE TV, MANAGE PUERTO RICO:
ESPN Baseball Tonight analyst Eduardo Perez took a leave from ESPN to manage the Puerto Rican team. “They were good to me” he said. “They gave me 30 days to manage Puerto Rico in the World Cup.” Perez, the son of Hall of Famer Tony Perez, said he is proud to do it. He played for seven Major League teams from his debut with the Angels in 1993 to his retirement after playing for the Mariners in 2006. That same year, he became a Baseball Tonight analyst. He played college ball at Florida State and played the 2001-year in Japan with the Hanshin Tigers.

MAZZOTTI TRIES TO BRING ITALIAN SUCCESS TO SPAIN
:
Mauro Mazzotti, 50, is the only manager to win three Italian Serie A championships, Rimini 1999, Bologna 2003 and 2005 and Grosseto in 2007. Currently he manages Rimini, which spent most of this past season in first place in the Italian League, but his goal now is to get Spain into round two of the World Cup as the manager for the national team. Mazzotti, who has a degree physical education, speaks three languages, his native Italian, English and has handled press conferences a the World Cup in Spanish. He has been a scout in Europe for the Seattle Mariners and became the co-ordinator for the scouting in Europe for the Houston Astros.

JAPANESE TAKE A DIFFERENT ROUTE TO BUILD A ROSTER
Team Japan, even though comprising amateur players and coaches from the industrial teams only, has a number of forthcoming draft hopefuls of Nippon Professional League on this World Cup roster, and is 2-0 thus far. Manager Yasuhiko Sugimoto lead the Japanese National Team at the 2005 World cup, Inter-Continental Cup in 2006 and to the top of the Asian Championship in 2009. Most of the players joined the 2009 Asian Championship except for the pitchers, which had been represented by college players only, and are veterans of international competitions.  Star players include Takashi Saito, left handed pitcher (East JapanRailway), Hisayoshi Chono, outfielder (Honda), Kenji Suzuki, catcher (Nippon Express). Ikuhiro Kiyota, outfielder, (NTT East-Japan) and the M.V.P. of Asian Championship last August as well as Keiji Ikebe, outfielder (Nippon Oil ENEOS) are key members of this Japanese team.

12th September 2009
2009 BASEBALL WORLD CUP...RESULTS AND NOTES FOR END OF ROUND ONE

SECOND ROUND MATCHUPS SET TO BEGIN SUNDAY ACROSS ITALY AND THE NETHERLANDS


SECOND ROUND BEGINS SUNDAY: The second round, which will be held at sites in the Netherlands and Italy, begins on Sunday 13 September with eight games, including Netherlands-Korea and Puerto Rico-Spain (Amsterdam), Australia-Netherlands Antilles (Piacenza), Cuba-Great Britain (Haarlem), Venezuela-Nicaragua (Rotterdam), Italy-Chinese Taipei (Firenze), and USA-Canada (Reggio Emilia).

The complete second round matchups for the week can be seen at:

http://www.facebook.com/l/a8560;hosting3.sportingpulse.com /www.2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10

SATURDAY RESULTS

CUBA 5 SPAIN 4:
Yosvany Peraza hit a pinch hit three-run homer that become a two-run in the bottom of the eighth, but those two runs proved to be the deciding margin in the game of the tournament in Spain as the first round of baseball’s World Cup, Group B

MEXICO 10 AUSTRALIA 9:
Mexico completed a 3-0 first round but had to rally after building a big lead to defeat the hard-hitting Aussies. Second inning two run home runs by Cristian Presichi and Carlos Valencia keyed an 8-2 Mexican lead going into the bottom of the sixth, when Australia rallied.  Australia sent 10 men to the plate in the inning scoring five times, including a lead off home run by Christopher Snelling and four separate RBI singles by to cut the lead to 8-7. Mexico extended the lead to 9-7 in the top of the eighth, but the Aussies tied the game at nine when Joel Naughton hit a two run homer off reliever Alan Guerrero in the bottom of the frame.  In the ninth, Edgar Quintero had a one out double off pitcher Joshua Hill and came around to score on Presichi’s single to make it 10-9. Australia had a chance to tie with two out in the bottom of the ninth, when Stefan Welsh reached on an error, but Matthew Kennelly grounded out against reliever Hector Navarro to end the game.

USA 8 CHINA 0: 
Team USA advanced to the second round, shutting out winless China on Saturday afternoon in front of 5,900 at the Armin Wolf Arena in Regensburg by a score of 8-0. Terry Tiffee’s two run first inning home run was the only scoring until the U.S. broke the game open with a sixth run eighth inning, highlighted by a Josh Kroeger homer. Trevor Reckling went seven scoreless innings for the win, allowing three hits and three walks.

NICARAGUA 8 JAPAN 4:
With the win, Nicaragua secured first place in Pool D in Zagreb.  The Latin American qualifier jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first behind third baseman Jimmy Morales Gonzales’ fifth home run of the first round.  Espinoza Lopez made it 4-0 with another homer in the third and Nicaragua broke it open in the fourth with two more homers by Esteban Garcia (solo) and Espinoza Lopez (3-run). Starter Esteban Perez went six innings and had a lot of success mixing changeups with sliders and working with a lot of movement low in the zone. He left with an 8-1 lead (one earned run on three hits). Japan got within 8-4 in the seventh behind a three-run home run by Tsutomu Sasaki, but it didn’t score again.  It was Team Nicaragua’s first win over Japan since 1990.

NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 9 KOREA 5: 
Ardley Jansen erased an early deficit with a towering three-run home run in the fifth inning and added an RBI-single in the seventh as Netherlands Antilles came from behind to upset Korea, 9-5, securing a second-place finish in Group C. Korea had a one-run lead going into the fifth inning when Antilles put together a two out rally as shortstop Raywendley van Gurp and first baseman Andley Simmons hit back-to-back base hits setting up Jansen’s big fly to left centre, his second home run of the tournament. Antilles extended its lead in the seventh as pinch hitter Quincy Martina doubled and scored on a throwing error and Jansen drove in his fourth run of the day. Starting pitcher Johannes Gregorius, Jr. surrendered a run in each of the first two innings but settled down and hurled four straight scoreless frames before tiring in the seventh.  It is the first time in its history the small Caribbean nation will advance in the World Cup.

GREAT BRITAIN 4 CROATIA 1:
Starter Brian Essery and reliever Thomas Boleska limited Croatia to five hits and struck out 10 to help Great Britain claim their first victory  in the 2009 IBAF World Cup. Great Britain got to starter James Summers in the fifth, getting on the scoreboard on an RBI double by left fielder Matthew McGraw. Catcher Christopher Berset’s two run homer made it 3-0 in the sixth, and Croatia could get no closer. They scored their only run an RBI double by right fielder Branko Nenadic in the eighth. 

PUERTO RICO 12 SOUTH AFRICA 0: 
Carlos Rivera hit a two run first inning home run, and Puerto Rico went on to rout South Africa 12-0 in a game ended after seven innings in the final game in Barcelona.

VENEZUELA 12 GERMANY 1:
Orlando Perdomo scattered six hits and allowed one run over 5 2/3 innings as Venezuela jumped out to a 6-0 lead and routed homestanding Germany 12-1 in the final game of round one. Venezuela scored four runs in the second, two coming on a Chavez double, and got a solo home run from Landaeta in the third to break the game open..

CHINESE TAIPEI 10 CZECH REPUBLIC 1: 
Chinese Taipei scored four runs in the first and six in the second and then were held scoreless the rest of the way, but still defeated Czech Republic in Prague. Chinese Taipei strung together five singles and plated four runners in the first off starter Peter Minarik. Hung-Yu Lin drove in four runs in the first two innings with a pair of singles to lead a balanced attack. Chu-Chien Hsu and Yu-Ching Lin combined on a four hitter for Chinese Taipei.

CANADA 19 SWEDEN 1:
For the second day in a row, Sweden set their baseball attendance record, but 2,100 fans went home early as a veteran Canada team pounded out 19 runs on 18 hits in just five innings. The Swedes actually led 1-0 after one, when Pilegard homered off pitcher Brooks McNiven, but Canada answered back by sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs on seven hits in the second.

NOTES

ATTENDANCE MARKS FOR ROUND ONE: 

Further evidence of baseball’s growth in Europe was seen throughout the first round attendance numbers at local sites.  Leading the way was Regensburg, Germany, which saw crowds in excess of 5,000 for almost all of the three days of competition, highlighted by a Friday night crowd of almost 10,000 fans for USA-Germany. Friday night’s Jahn Regensburg soccer match drew approximately 5,000 at the same time, which is a solid sign of interest in baseball in Germany. At other sites, Sweden had a capacity crowd of over 2,100 for Saturday’s final day and strong crowds approaching 1,500 on the others. Spain had overflow crowds on both Friday and Saturday in excess of the 1,500 seating capacities for their games with Puerto Rico and Cuba. And Prague had an overflow of 2,500 for Saturday and crowds in excess of 1,500 for Friday, all positive signs of growth. Large crowds are expected in both the Netherlands and Italy for round two. 

FUTURES STARS LEAD CANADIAN DOMINANCE IN ROUND ONE:
 
Canada outscored their opponents 43-2 in their three games in Sweden, and were led by Texas Rangers prospect Tim Smith (7-10, 2 HR 8 RBI). Future’s Game MVP, Eastern League All-Star and Minnesota Twins prospect Rene Tosoni 6-13 1 HR 7 RBI) and Houston Astros prospect Brett Lawrie (5-15 1 HR, 5 RBI).  Their pitching staff allowed only nine hits in the three games as well.

WHO IS NICARAGUA’S FIVE HOMER GUY?:
 Nicaragua’s 3-0 first round start has been led by solid pitching and the long ball of third baseman Jimmy Morales Gonzalez, who has hit five home runs in their first three games.  The 31 year old Gonzalez played in the Pioneer and California Leagues from 1998-2000 in the Dodgers organisation, for Great Falls and San Bernadino, and has played for Granada in the Nicaraguan Professional League since then.  He had 20 HR and 180 RBI with a .295 average in his three seasons in the minors.

USA’S RECKLING TIES STRIKEOUT MARK, TEAM SETS ONE: 
USA starting pitcher, Texas League All-Star and Los Angeles Angels prospect Trevor  Reckling became just the fourth USA pitcher to reach double digits in strikeouts in a World Cup game, as he fanned 11 Chinese over seven innings on Saturday.  His 11 strikeouts tied the mark of former Dodger and Cubs pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.  Reckling also joined Ben McDonald (1988) and Hank Woodman (2003) as the only USA pitchers to reach double digits in a game. Overall Team USA set their own World Cup record with 16 strikeouts vs. China, breaking the mark of 14 set against Brazil in 2003.

SPANISH TWINS/ORIOLES PROSPECTS LEAD SPAIN TO ROUND TWO: 
They went only 1-2 in round one, but with narrow losses to world baseball powers Cuba (5-4) and Puerto Rico (5-3) Spain will move on to the second round. The twin brothers, Paco (5-11) and Daniel (5-12, 4 RBI) Figueroa (both in the Baltimore Orioles organisation) led Spain, who also got five shutout innings from San Diego Padres prospect Eric Gonzalez, the winner in Spain’s 15-0 whitewash of South Africa. 

PROSPECTS SMOAK, DAVIS, COATES POWER USA BATS: 
Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak (5-9 3 HR 7 RBI), first baseman and New York Mets prospect Ike Davis (4-9, 1 HR, 1 3B) and Los Angeles Dodgers prospect Buck Coates (5-12 1 HR 2 RBI) have helped pace Team USA at the plate in round one.

AUSSIES HIT THEIR WAY TO ROUND TWO: 
Australia smacked 10 home runs and scored 31 runs in their first round matchups, going 2-1 with a close loss to Mexico Saturday.  Philadelphia Phillies prospect Tim Kennelly’s three homers and 8 RBI while Minnesota Twins prospect James Beresford led the team in hits with seven in the three games. Six Twins prospects are on the Australia roster.

13th September 2009
SUMMARIES AND NOTES FROM BASEBALL WORD CUP
 
SECOND ROUND CONTINUES MONDAY: The second round, which will be held at sites in the Netherlands and Italy, continues Monday 14 September with eight games, including Mexico-Italy (Bologna), Cuba-Nicaragua (Haarlem), Netherlands-Puerto Rico (Rotterdam), Canada-Australia (Novara) and USA-Netherlands Antilles (Verona)

The complete second round matchups for the week can be seen at: http://www.facebook.com/l/56504;hosting3.sportingpulse.com /www.2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10

NETHERLANDS 4 KOREA 2:
The second round of the 2009 World Cup opened in dramatic fashion, as Netherlands catcher Sidney de Jong hit a three run home run off reliever Kyung-Eun Noh in the bottom of the eighth inning, giving the Dutch a come from behind win in Amsterdam.  Korea took a 2-0 lead in the top of the third, with an RBI double by Lee Ho and a second run scoring on a ground out against starter Tom Stuifbergen.  The Netherlands got on the scoreboard in the bottom of the fourth when Scharlon Schoop tripled with two outs, knocking in Raily Legito.  The score remained the same until de Jong’s three run shot in the eighth. Dennis Neuman pitched the ninth to earn the save for the Dutch.

AUSTRALIA 19 NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 6:
 
The Aussies continued their torrid hitting, jumping out to a 10-0 lead after three innings on their way to a 19-6 seven-inning win.  Luke Hughes’ two run first inning homer off starter Andley Simmons got the scoring going, and they then broke the game open in the third, sending 10 men to the plate, scoring seven runs on seven hits,  with Stefan Welch’s three run homer and a two run double by Bradley Harman keying the inning.  Australia also sent 16 men to the plate in a nine run, eight hit fifth inning as well to move to 3-1 thus far.  Tim Kennelly and Joel Harmon had four hits apiece for Australia, who used four pitchers and allowed just six hits in the win.   

USA 8 CANADA 0:
 
The defending World Cup champions cooled off the first round’s hardest hitting team, as Cory Luebeke flirted with a no-hitter into the eighth inning, and eventually allowed one hit and had 10 strikeouts in 7 2/3 shutout innings, as the Americans used a balanced hitting attack to down Canada in their round two opener in Caselli, Italy.  Team USA touched up Canadian starter Chris Begg for four runs on three hits in the first, with Terry Tiffee’s two run double the key hit. Tiffee had another RBI double as part of a two run third that made it 6-0, and Pedro Alvarez’s first World Cup homer in the seventh closed the USA scoring.  Tiffee and Jon Webber had three hits apiece to lead USA, while catcher Chris Robinson had Canada’s only hit, a single with two out in the eighth inning.

PUERTO RICO 12 SPAIN 2:
The second meeting of the World Cup between Spain and Puerto Rico was not as close as the first, as Puerto Rico rallied for seven runs after two were out in the second inning and went on to the win in seven innings.  Major League veteran Jose Valentin helped stake Puerto Rico to a 2-0 lead in the first with a solo home run, and then PR broke the game open in the second, getting seven straight batters on base, including a pair of two run singles by Carlos Rivera and Angel Sanchez,  to give them a 9-0 lead.  Luis Perez’s two run third inning homer was all Spain could muster against a trio of Puerto Rico pitchers, including Luis Atilano, who went five innings for the win.

JAPAN 9 MEXICO 3:
 
The Japanese posted their most impressive victory of the World Cup, stopping undefeated Mexico 9-3.  Kenichi Yamakoa’s two run fourth inning triple off starter Juan Pablo Oramas opened the scoring for Japan, but Mexico rallied and tied the game at three on Saul Soto’s two run homer in the top of the sixth.  However the Japanese answered right back, scoring three runs on five hits in the bottom of the inning, with Go Yamaoka, Ikuhiro Kiyota and Yoshinobu Kotegawa plating runs with singles.  Japan then put the game away in the bottom of the eighth on a Keiji Ikebe three run home run.

VENEZUELA 7 NICARAGUA 4:
Venezuela moved to an impressive 4-0 in World Cup play, scoring four runs in the first and two in the third on their way to a 7-4 win over previously undefeated Nicaragua.  Venezuela batted around in the first inning against Nicaragua starter Alvaro Aguilar, scoring four, two out runs on singles by Rene Reyes, Luis Landaeta and Jonathan Sivira, and broke the game open on a two run Landaeta home run in the third. Nicaragua rallied late in the game to get within 7-4, and had the tying run at bat with two outs in the ninth, but Danilo Sotelo flew out against pitcher Jose Rodriguez to end the game. For Nicaragua, third baseman Jimmy Morales failed to homer after hitting five in their Nicargua’s first three games, but he did go 4-5 at the plate with another RBI.  Landaeta and Yosnel Garcia had three hits apiece for Venezuela.   

CHINESE TAIPEI 5 ITALY 2:
Chinese Taipei spoiled Italy’s home World Cup opener, taking an early 3-0 lead and then holding Italy to only four hits in Firenze. Tai-Yung Kuo’s leadoff third inning homer off Tiago DaSilva got Chinese Taipei on the scoreboard,  and Ming-Jen Kuo’s RBI single and an throwing error pushed the lead to 3-0 after four.  Leonardo Zilari’s fifth inning RBI single got the Italians their first run, but a Chung-Chun Wu RBI single made it 4-1 in the eighth, and the Italians never threatened after that.  Yen-Feng Lin allowed two hits and one run over six innings for Chinese Taipei, who had four pitchers combine on the four hitter.

CUBA 6 GREAT BRITAIN 0 
Freddy Alvarez pitched a two hitter for the Cubans, who scored three of their runs in the second inning and three more in the eighth.  Yoennis Cespedes and Ariel Pestano homered  off starting pitcher Stephen Spragg in the second to lead the victory.

NOTES

USA PITCHING DOMINATES AGAIN: 
San Diego Padres prospect Cory Luebeke became the second Team USA pitcher in as many days to reach double digits in strikeouts with 10 on Sunday vs. Canada. On Saturday team mate and California Angels prospect Trevor  Reckling, had 11 K’s against China, which tied the mark of former Dodger and Cubs pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.  Luebeke joined Reckling, Ben McDonald (1988) and Hank Woodman (2003) as the only USA pitchers to reach double digits in a game.  Overall Team USA set their own World Cup record with 16 strikeouts vs. China, breaking the mark of 14 set against Brazil in 2003.

NETHERLANDS WIN A RARE ONE FOR THE HOME SQUAD IN WORLD CUP: 
The Netherlands come from behind win Sunday against Korea was just the second overall for a home country in this World Cup. Spain went 1-2 in Barcelona, while the Czech Republic, Sweden and Croatia all went 0-3, and Italy lost their home opener Sunday to Chinese Taipei, making the host country just 2-12 thus far. The host country has only won the Gold Medal eight times since 1948 - Cuba (1952, 1971,1973, 1984,2003) Columbia (1965), USA (1974), and Korea (1982). Cuba’s win in 2003 was the only time in the last nine events the World Cup has been won by the host country and was also one of two times in the last nine the host country won a medal (host Chinese Taipei won Bronze in 2001).

JAPAN’S WIN CHRISTENS NEW STADIUM: 
Japan’s win over Mexico was the inaugural game in Parma’s new Aldo Nottari Stadium, named after the late IBAF President.  Australia will play Italy in Parma Thursday in the second game at the new field.

deJONG CONTINUES INTERNATIONAL HEROICS
Catcher Sidney deJong was a key member of the Netherlands successful World Baseball Classic team, leading the Netherlands by hitting .500 (5 for 10). He continued the heroics on Sunday, hitting the game winning three run homer run against Korea.

DUTCH ADD JERSEY SPONSOR:
On Sunday it was announced that Argos Oil will be sponsoring the Dutch team during the Baseball World Cup. The name of the fast growing company in Rotterdam-Hoogvliet (400 employees, 1.5 billion euros turnover) will be displayed on the sleeves of the Dutch players the coming weeks. Argos Groep is one of the largest independent oil companies in the Netherlands and is active in the areas of trading, storage and sales of (bio)fuels and lubrication. Founder and general director is Peter Goedvolk, Havenman van het Jaar (Harbourman of the Year) 2006.

AUSSIES CONTINUE TO HIT AWAY: 
Australia continued their torrid hitting on Sunday, and have now smacked 11 home runs and scored 50 runs in their first four games.  Philadelphia Phillies prospect Tim Kennelly’s three homers and 9 RBI while Minnesota Twins prospect James Beresford led the team in hits with nine in the four games. Six Twins prospects are on the Australia roster.

NICARAGUA’S GONZALEZ CONTINUES TORRID PACE:
Nicaragua’s 3-1 start has been led by the long ball of third baseman Jimmy Morales Gonzalez, who has hit five home runs in their first four games and went 4-5 from the plate Sunday.  The 31 year old Gonzalez played in the Pioneer and California Leagues from 1998-2000 in the Dodgers organisation, for Great Falls and San Bernadino, and has played for Granada in the Nicaraguan Professional League since then.  He had 20 HR and 180 RBI with a .295 average in his three seasons in the minors.

16th September 2009
SUMMARIES AND NOTES FROM BASEBALL WORD CUP

RAIN CAUSES CANCELLATIONS:
Rain across Italy forced three games, one from Monday and two from Tuesday, to be rescheduled for Wednesday in Italy.  Yesterday’s Japan-Chinese Taipei game will be played Wednesday as will today’s Italy-Netherlands Antilles and Mexico-Canada games.  The four regularly scheduled games in the Netherlands will also be played Wednesday.   

UNITED STATES 4 JAPAN 1:
The USA made the most of their four hits against four Japanese pitchers, as Chris Smoak hit a  third inning two run homer and Terry Tiffee followed with a solo shot to lead the win. Trevor Plouff’s RBI single gave the USA a 4-0 lead in the seventh, and the Americans held off a late Japan rally to secure the win. USA pitcher Brad Lincoln was the latest to star on the mound, going 7 1/3 innings and allowing a run on six hits with five strikeouts.  Hiroyuki Kamegawa was the starter and loser for Japan, who outhit the U.S. 9-4 in the game.

CHINESE TAIPEI 5 AUSTRALIA 4 (10):
Australia was forced to go to extra innings for the second straight game, but this time it was Chinese Taipei coming from behind to post the win in Godo, Italy.  The game was a pitchers duel between Australia’s David Welch, who struck out 13 in just seven innings and allowed one run on four hits, and Chinese Taipei’s Wen-Yang Liao, who went nine innings and allowed a run on four hits.  The score was tied at one entering the tenth inning, when a throwing error allowed James Bereford to score the tie breaking run, and Christopher Snelling followed with an RBI single and Luke Hughes a sacrifice fly to put the Aussies up 4-1.  However in the bottom half of the inning, Chinese Taipei scored a pair of one out runs on a throwing error by shortstop James Beresford, his second of the game, and Hung Hu-Lin followed with a pinch hit two run home run off  pitcher Paul Mildren to give Chinese Taipei the win. The win avenged a 5-4 loss to Australia in Round One.   

NOTES:

AFTER SLOW START, CHINESE TAIPEI WINS THREE STRAIGHT: 
Chinese Taipei has suddenly won three games in a row after starting out 0-2.  Wins yesterday against host Italy and today against Australia have followed a 10-1 win @ Czech Republic to end Round One.  Pitcher Yu-Ching Lin has notched two relief wins in the last three days to lead a staff that has allowed just three earned runs in their last 27 innings of work.

SMOAKIN THE HOMERS: 
Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak continued his torrid home run pace on Tuesday and now leads all players with six home runs in the World Cup. Smoak has a pair of two homer games for the USA, whose 16 homers as a team also lead the way.

WELCH SETS AUSSIE STRIKEOUT MARK, TIES GONAZLEZ FOR MOST IN A GAME:
Tuesday’s Australia-Chinese Taipei pitching duel saw Milwaukee Brewers pitching prospect David Welch set an Australian record with 13 strikeouts in just seven innings. The 13 ‘s match Cuba’s Miguel Gonzalez, who had 13 strikeouts against Puerto Rico in round one,

CUBANS ONLY 5-0 TEAM:
Led by a pitching staff with a 1.88 ERA and 58 strikeouts vs. only 12 walks, Cubans is the lone remaining undefeated team from the first two rounds. Cuban pitcher Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971.

USA PITCHING IN CONTROL AGAIN:
 
Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Brad Lincoln made his second start another solid one, allowing just one run against Japan on Tuesday. Lincoln joins a rotation that has seen Texas Rangers prospect Kasey Kiker San Diego Padres prospect Cory Luebeke, California Angels prospect Trevor Reckling and Atlanta Braves prospect Todd Redmond combine to allow just two earned runs, 13 hits and 40 strikeouts in 34 innings.  On Saturday Reckling, had 11 K’s against China, which tied the mark of former Dodger and Cubs pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.  Sunday, Luebeke joined Reckling, Ben McDonald (1988) and Hank Woodman (2003) as the only USA pitchers to reach double digits in a game.  Overall Team USA set their own World Cup record with 16 strikeouts vs. China, breaking the mark of 14 set against Brazil in 2003.

AUSSIES LOSE TWO BY A RUN:
Australia’s extra inning loss Tuesday was their second by a lone run, following their 10-9 loss to Mexico in Round One.  In their four wins, Australia’s margin of victory is seven, including two 13 run victories.  Their 61 runs scored are the most thus far in the tournament, and their 13 home runs trail only Cuba (14) and USA (16).

ORIOLES PROSPECTS LEADING THE WAY FOR PUERTO RICO, SPAIN: 
The Baltimore Orioles have three players in this World Cup, but all three are making an impact for their respective countries.  Daniel and Paco Figueroa are leading Spain in hitting and were key factors in Monday’s landmark win over Venezuela, while Puerto Rico’s Miguel Abreu is leading his team in hitting (.471, 6 runs scored three doubles). Paco Figeuroa leads the team with a .438 average, while Daniel is hitting at a .421 pace.

METS PROSPECTS AND VETS ALSO MAKING AN IMPACT: 
Besides the 10 Minnesota Twins prospects in the World Cup, the New York Mets organisation is represented by 13 players, eight current and four former players. Team USA first baseman Ike Davis, the club’s 2008 first round pick, is hitting .417 while infielders Shawn Bowman and Jonathan Malo are playing for Team Canada, infielder Stefan Welch is playing for  Australia and is second on the team with 3 HR and 8 RBI, right handed pitcher Montero Cruz is  playing for Spain, catcher Kai Gronauer  represented Germany, lefthanded pitcher Arturo Lopez  plays for Mexico and infielder Ray Van Gurp is on the Netherlands roster.  Puerto Rico’s roster has four former Mets players not currently signed to an MLB team, including Jose Santiago, Raul Casanova, Luis Matos, Jose Valentin and Juan Padilla. Valentin is tied for Puerto Rico’s lead in runs scored with six.

NICARAGUA’S GONZALEZ CONTINUES TORRID PACE:
Nicaragua’s third baseman Jimmy Morales Gonzalez continues to lead all hitters with 5 HR 12 RBI and a .688 average through five games. The 31 year old Gonzalez played in the Pioneer and California Leagues from 1998-2000 in the Dodgers organisation, for Great Falls and San Bernadino, and has played for Granada in the Nicaraguan Professional League since then.  He had 20 HR and 180 RBI with a .295 average in his three seasons in the minors.

EXTRA INNING RULE IN PLAY AGAIN: 
The IBAF’s Extra Inning Rule, designed to control the length of games, took effect for the second time Monday in the Australia-Canada game.  For extra innings, each team starts their half of the inning with runners on first and second and no out.  Each subsequent inning starts the same until a winner is determined.  A version of the rule, starting in the eleventh inning, was implemented during the Beijing Olympics and was used five times, with only one game going an additional inning before being decided.  The World Baseball Classic adapted the rule, starting in the 14th inning, but it was never put into effect.  The rule has now been used three times including Tuesday’s Australia-Chinese Taipei game, Monday’s Australia-Canada game and last Thursday’s Venezuela-USA game. The Aussies are now 1-1 in extra inning games.

17th September 2009
DUTCH & CUBANS REMAIN UNDEFEATED AT BASEBALL WORLD CUP
:

RAIN ALTERS THE ITALIAN SCHEDULE

Two make-up games were played today in Italy, with the game scheduled for Torino moved to Godo due to persistent rains.  San Marino played host to the Japan-Chinese Taipei clash, while Mexico and Canada squared off in Godo.  In the Netherlands, all four games went off as planned.

2ND ROUND CONTINUES THURSDAY:
The second round, which will be held at sites in the Netherlands and Italy, continues Thursday.  A full slate of games in Italy is headlined by a battle of unbeatens when Chinese Taipei meets the United States in Torino.  Other games include Canada-Japan (Bologna), Australia-Italy (Parma), and Mexico-Netherland Antilles (San Marino).  All games start at 20:00.  Four games will also take place in the Netherlands, with Puerto Rico and Great Britain starting off the action at 13:00 in Haarlem.  The night games, all which start at 19:00, include Netherlands-Venezuela (Haarlem), Spain-Cuba (Amsterdam), and Nicaragua-South Korea (Rotterdam).

The complete second round matchups for the week can be seen at: http://www.facebook.com/l/0d0bf;hosting3.sportingpulse.com /www.2009baseballworldcup.com/index.php?id=10

PUERTO RICO 3 KOREA 2: 
Puerto Rico knocked off Korea , 3-2, on Wednesday, behind a stellar pitching performance from Mario Santiago.  The win moves Puerto Rico to 2-1, while Korea falls to 1-2. Puerto Rico was on the board first, scoring a run in the bottom half of the opening frame off an RBI ground out from Luis Matos.  Both teams scored in the fourth inning, Korea tacking on one run behind an RBI double from Young-Hun Cho, and Puerto Rico plating two with an RBI double from Alex Cintron.  Korea scored one more run in the eighth, but Puerto Rico held on for the victory.  Santiago earned the win after giving up no earned runs in his seven innings, while striking out five.  Richard Rodriguez was awarded the save, and Seung-Lak Son of Korea took the loss.

CHINESE TAIPEI 3 JAPAN 1 (10): 
In Wednesday’s Pool G afternoon game, Chinese Taipei defeated its intercontinental rival Japan in extra innings, 3-1.  Taipei scored a run in the top of the first, Japan tied the game in the sixth, but in the end, Japan couldn’t match Taipei’s two runs in the 10th with the game under the international extra-inning tie-break rule.  It was a two-man show for Taipei , with start Chih-Lung Huang going the distance, giving up only the one run (unearned) and striking out four in 10 innings.  At the plate Hung-Yu Lin led Taipei with two hits while driving in all three runs.  Japan starter Tomohisa Otani had a wasted effort, allowing only one run and striking out seven batters over 8.1 innings.  Leadoff hitter Shoh Aranami led Japan with the bat, going 2-3 with a run scored.

CANADA 4 MEXICO 2: 
Canada bounced back from their Monday loss to USA, as five pitchers combined to scatter seven hits in a win of Mexico in Godo, Italy.  The Canadians grabbed a 2-0 first inning lead on a Brett Lawrie sacrifice fly and a Tim Smith RBI single, extended it to 4-0 on Shawn Bowman’s RBI singles in the fourth and sixth.  Catcher Saul Soto’s two run home run in the eighth cut the lead to 4-2, but Cleveland Indians prospect Robert Swindle struck out Jesus Cota with the tying runs on base in the ninth to end the game. 

NETHERLANDS 10 SPAIN 5: 
The homestanding Dutch moved to 3-0 by doubling up Spain in Haarlem.  Eugene Kinsgale led off the bottom of the first with a triple and scored on a Yurendell Decaster to start the scoring against starter Antonio Noguera and Sidney deJong’s sacrifice fly scored Decaster with a second run to make it 2-0 after one inning of play.  The Dutch then broke the game open in the second, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring seven runs on seven hits to make it 9-0.  Hainley Statia and Raily Legito both had two run doubles to lead the Dutch in the inning.  Spain did rally to within 9-5 in the fourth on a Febles two run single but never got any closer.  The Netherlands pounded out 16 hits, including three by Kingsale.

CUBA 10 VENEZUELA 0: 
The Cubans continued their undefeated play, as Norge Vera and Yadier Pedroso combined on a four hit shutout of Venezuela. Cuba jumped out to a 3-0 lead on an Enriquez RBI double, a Yoennis Cespedes sacrifice fly and an Jose Abreu single in the first, extended it to 4-0 on an Alfredo Despaigne home run in the fourth and added another pair in the seventh and four more in the eighth for the win. Abreu’s three hits and three RBI led Cuba’s 14 hit attack.

NICARAGUA 4 GREAT BRITAIN 1: 
Diego Garcia pitched a complete game five hitter, allowing one run as Nicaragua defeated Great Britain. Nicaragua scored all the runs they would need in the second, stringing together four hits, including a Guido double to take a 3-0 lead off GB starter Brian Essery.  An Adolofo Matamoros double scored the fourth run in the seventh for Nicaragua, who managed only one earned run against Essery and Thomas Boleska

NOTES:

CUBA AT 6-0 LEADING THE WAY:
With Wednesday’s win Cuba continued their unbeaten run in the World Cup.. Led by a pitching staff with a 1.59 ERA and 70 strikeouts vs. only 12 walks, and a World Cup best .351 batting average, the Cubans are the lone remaining undefeated team from the first two rounds. Cuban pitcher Norge Vera raised his record to 2-0 on Wednesday and has yet to allow a run in 14 innings, while Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971. 

CHINESE TAIPEI PACED BY PITCHING: 
Chinese Taipei won their fourth straight Wednesday has suddenly won three games in a row after starting out 0-2.  Their staff that has allowed just four earned runs in their last 37 innings of work.

DUTCH MOVE TO 3-0 ON HOME TURF: 
The Netherlands improved their record to 3-0 with Wednesday’s win.  San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop, who played with Connecticut of the Eastern League this season, is hitting .583 (7-12) in the first three games, while former Baltimore Oriole Eugene Kingsale is hitting at a .455 pace.

SMOAKIN THE HOMERS: 
Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak continued his torrid home run pace on Tuesday and now leads all players with six home runs in the World Cup. Smoak has a pair of two homer games for the USA, whose 16 homers as a team also lead the way.

NEW DUTCH HALL OF FAMER:
Former national team-pitcher and manager Jan-Dick Leurs officially was inducted into the Dutch Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame on Wednesday during a ceremony before the game of the Netherlands and Spain in Haarlem. As a player, Leurs won five Dutch championships with Haarlem Nicols, whom he then coached to six more titles. As manager of the Dutch national team, Leurs guided the squad to three European titles.

EXTRA INNING RULE:
The IBA’s Extra Inning Rule, designed to control the length of games, took effect for the second time Monday in the Australia-Canada game.  For extra innings, each team starts their half of the inning with runners on first and second and no out.  Each subsequent inning starts the same until a winner is determined.  A version of the rule, starting in the 11th inning, was implemented during the Beijing Olympics and was used five times, with only one game going an additional inning before being decided. The World Baseball Classic adapted the rule, starting in the 14th inning, but it was never put into effect. The rule has now been used four times, with Chinese Taipei now 2-0 and Australia 1-1 in extra inning games.

17th September
THURSDAYS RESULTS:

PUERTO RICO 5 GREAT BRITAIN 4: 
Great Britain nearly upset another world baseball power on Thursday, taking an early lead before Puerto Rico rallied for a 5-4 win. After taking a 2-0 lead on a two-run double by Puerto Rico’s Stephen Morales in the second inning, the Brits came up with a four-run rally in the fourth, when starting pitcher Jose Santiago gave up five hits with one out, including an RBI-double by Samuel Wiley and two-run single by Aeden McQueary-Ennis.   Puerto Rico recovered immediately and tied the score in its half of the fourth, scoring two on RBI-singles by Irving Falu and Miguel Abreu. A single by Alex Cintron gave Puerto Rico a 5-4 lead, and reliever Orlando Gonzalez retired the last 11 batters he faced to earn the save.

UNTIED STATES 14 CHINESE TAIPEI 3: 
Pedro Alvarez hit a U.S. World Cup record three home runs, including one each in the first two innings and drove in six runs as the USA jumped out to a 14-0 lead and snapped Chinese Taipei’s three-game, second round win streak, 14-3. The USA hit six homers in total against five Chinese Taipei hurlers’ also a Team USA record - and Todd Redmond went six innings to earn his second win of the World Cup.

MEXICO 9 NETHERLANDS ANTILLES 8: 
Mexico rallied from an early 6-0 deficit to hang on for a 9-8 win in San Marino.  A first inning grand slam by the NA’s Ulrich Snijders was the key hit in a five run first, but Mexico rallied, using a five-run fifth inning to eventually take the lead, with the go-ahead runs coming on Cristian Presichi’s two run double and Jesus Cota’s run scoring single.  The Netherlands Antilles closed the gap to 9-8 in the seventh on Dijonny Joubert’s RBI single, but two Mexican relievers, Alan Guerro and Hector Navarro, did not allow a base runner over the final two innings to close out the dramatic win.

CUBA 10 SPAIN 0:   
The undefeated Cubans broke open a close game with five eighth inning runs, and three pitchers combined on a four-hitter to defeat Spain. Jose Abreu’s two run double in the second gave Cuba the early lead, and a Hector Olivera run-scoring single made it 3-0 in the seventh.  Cuba then used a solo home run by Yulieski Gouriel and a three-run shot by Ariel Pestano to break the game open in the eighth.  Miguel Gonzalez went seven innings for the win.

NETHERLANDS 8 VENEZUELA 5: 
The Dutch remained undefeated at home, using a 13-hit attack to beat Venezuela before 3,500 spectators.  The game was tied at 3-3 in the bottom of the fourth when the Netherlands took the lead for good on a Yurendell Decaster sacrifice fly, and it extended the lead to 6-3 on Sharlon Schoop and Hainley Statia RBI singles in the fifth.  It was 8-3 in the eighth inning when Venezuela rallied, scoring on two bases loaded walks and had the tying runs on base, but Kenley Jansen struck out Billy Rojo to end the threat.  Sidney de Jong and Curt Smith had three hits apiece for the Netherlands, while Lino Connel went 4-5 for Venezuela.

CANADA 3 JAPAN 2 (11):
The Canadians managed only two hits off three Japanese pitchers, but scored a pair of runs on a throwing error to come from behind to beat Japan in Bologna.  Brett Lawrie’s RBI single had tied the game at one in the bottom of the sixth, but Japan came back to take a 2-1 lead in the top of the 11th on a Ryo Saeki RBI single before the Canadian rally in the bottom half of the inning.  Jimmy Henderson pitched the final three innings to get the win for Canada.

AUSTRALIA 5 ITALY 4: 
Christopher Snelling’s RBI single in the bottom of the ninth kept the host Italians winless and gave Australia a come-from-behind win in Parma .  Italy used a first inning RBI single by Jairo Ramos and a three-run second inning double by Juan Carlos Infante to go up 4-0, but Australia chipped away and tied the score at four on a Nicholas Kempton home run in the bottom of the fourth.  Dushan Ruzic pitched seven shutout innings in relief for Australia to get the win.

SOUTH KOREA 7 NICARAGUA 2:
 
South Korea scored six runs in the fifth inning to come from behind and beat Nicaragua 7-2. South Korea used a combination of three Nicaragua fielding errors and three walks to break the game open, and three pitchers held the Nicaraguans to just seven hits in the game.  Yung-Hun Cho also homered for South Korea. 

NOTES:

INTERNATIONAL TELEVISION COVERAGE EXPANDS: 
The IBAF has added three additional television partners for the latter part of the second round and into the final round.  WAPA TV, the Spanish-language channel of Universal Sports in Puerto Rico and the United States, has added Friday’s  Cuba-Puerto Rico game, TVES in Venezuela will show all remaining games involving Venezuela, and TV4 in Nicaragua will show all Nicaragua games remaining in the tournament.  That is in addition to the coverage of Eurosport2, NOS in the Netherlands, RAI Sport in Italy, and ICRT ib Cuba.
   
UPON FURTHER REVIEW - MAYBE THE TWINS SHOULD HAVE FIELDED THEIR OWN TEAM:
More proof that scouts are the best source for information arose today, when the Twins scouting staff pointed out that there are actually 14 players currently under contract in the organisation and playing in the World Cup. The 14 players include: Garcia and Fuentes (PR), Plouffe (USA), Tosoni (CAN), Galvan (Spain), Robb (SA), Stuifbergan (NED), Rehacek, Hejma (CZE), Beresford, Hughes, Hendriks, Tippett, Williams (AUS). In addition, there are nine other players, 23 total, who originally signed with the Twins but are either with another team now, or they have been released: Smit (NED), Tiffee (USA), Gessman, Henkenjohann (GER), Hajtmar, Toufar (CZE), Berg, Hill (AUS), Sandoval (VEN).

ALVAREZ  SETS INDIVIDUAL, USA TIES, TEAM HOMER MARK: 
Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Pedro Alvarez carved a niche in the USA record book by hitting three home runs in Thursday’s win, including one each in the first two innings of play. Team USA hit six home runs total in the game, tying their World Cup mark set against Spain in both 1988 and 2007.  The USA has now hit a tournament-best 22 home runs, led by Texas Rangers prospect Justin Smoak’s six.  Smoak has had a pair of two home run games thus far as well.

CUBA AT 7-0 LEADING THE WAY:   
Cuba’s quest to regain the World Cup continued on Thursday, with their shutout of Spain, their 4th to date and third in their last four games, in the tournament. Led by a pitching staff with a 1.49 ERA and 70 strikeouts vs. only 12 walks, Cuban is the lone remaining undefeated team from the first two rounds. Cuban pitcher Norge Vera raised his record to 2-0 on Wednesday and has yet to allow a run in 14 innings, while Miguel Gonzalez struck out ten consecutive batters against Puerto Rico in his first start (13 overall in 6 1/3 innings), one short of the World Cup mark of 11 set by former Major Leaguer Burt Hooton (Dodgers and Cubs) of the USA in 1971.   Cuba is also the World Cup’s leading hitting team, with a .351 average.

DUTCH MOVE TO 4-0 ON HOME TURF: 
The Netherlands improved their record to 4-0 with Wednesday’s win.  San Francisco Giants prospect Sharlon Schoop, who played with Connecticut of the Eastern League this season, is hitting .500 (9-18) in the first five games, while former Baltimore Oriole Eugene Kingsale is hitting at a .455 pace.

USA PITCHING IN CONTROL AGAIN:
 
Team USA’s starters continued their dominance the second time through their rotation, as Atlanta Braves prospect Todd Redmond pitched seven shutout innings Thursday to earn his second win, matching the mark of Pittsburgh Pirates prospect Brad Lincoln who allowed just one run against Japan on Tuesday. The USA rotation has combined to allow just five earned runs, 18 hits and 46 strikeouts in 41 innings. On Saturday Reckling, had 11 K’s against China, which tied the mark of former Dodger and Cubs pitcher Burt Hooten, who fanned 11 consecutive batters in 1970.  Sunday, Luebeke joined Reckling, Ben McDonald (1988) and Hank Woodman (2003) as the only USA pitchers to reach double digits in a game. Overall Team USA set their own World Cup record with 16 strikeouts vs. China, breaking the mark of 14 set against Brazil in 2003.

NEW DUTCH HALL OF FAMER:
Former national team-pitcher and manager Jan-Dick Leurs officially was inducted into the Dutch Baseball and Softball Hall of Fame on Wednesday during a ceremony before the game of the Netherlands and Spain in Haarlem. As a player, Leurs won five Dutch championships with Haarlem Nicols, whom he then coached to six more titles. As manager of the Dutch national team, Leurs guided the squad to three European titles.

D-BACKS SIGN FIRST EUROPEAN PROSPECT:
 
The Arizona Diamondbacks this week have signed pitcher Andrea Pizziconi of Italy, their first ever European player signing. Pizziconi is the cousin of Cincinnati reds prospect Matteo Pizziconi, who went 2-2 with a 1.80 ERA for the Reds Rookie League team this past summer

EXTRA INNING RULE:

The IBAF’s Extra Inning Rule, designed to control the length of games, has now been used five times, with Chinese Taipei (2-0) and Australia (1-1) going to extra innings the most thus far. For extra innings, each team starts their half of the inning with runners on first and second and no out.  Each subsequent inning starts the same until a winner is determined.  A version of the rule, starting in the 11th inning, was implemented during the Beijing Olympics and was used five times, with only one game going an additional inning before being decided.  The World Baseball Classic adapted the rule, starting in the 14th inning, but it was never put into effect.