Two-time World Baseball Classic champions Japan take the lead in Pool E after rallying to victory over Cuba.
After tying the game three different times, Japan rallied in the eighth to beat Cuba 8-5. Thanks to the clutch hitting of Tetsuto Yamada, who went 3-for-4 with four runs and 3 RBI, Japan stands 2-0 in Pool E while Cuba is 0-2 and nearing elimination.
Although Yamada gave Japan an early lead with a home run in the first, Cuba’s Yurisbel Gracial answered with a two-run homer in the second. Yamada brought the game-tying run home in the third only to watch Cuba regain the lead.
Victor Mesa nearly cleared the bases with an RBI single that scored two runs and put Cuba ahead 4-2 in the fourth.
After Nori Aoki drove in a run with a ground out, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh tied the game 4-4 in the fifth.
Two innings after Seiji Kobayashi tied the game with a single in the sixth, Siichi Uchikawa hit a sacrifice fly that put Japan in front 6-5 in the eighth. Later in the inning, Tsutsugoh capped his fantastic night with a two-run homer that padded Japan’s lead.
Cuba can still reach the semifinals, but they will need to defeat the Netherlands later today at 8:00 p.m. PST and improve to 1-2. If they can beat the Dutch and Israel falls to Japan on Wednesday, March 15, at 3:00 a.m. PST, then Cuba will be a part of a three-way tie for the runner-up spot.
If the scoring of both those games goes in their favor, Cuba will face either Israel or the Netherlands in a tiebreaker to determine the runner-up spot in Pool E.