Japan and USA won (against Cuba and Mexico) in the night games of Day 3 of the WBSC U-18 Baseball World Cup 2017

Japan get back on track with a 7-2 win against a brave Cuba, that tries to play aggressive from the start, gets on base but fails to produce runs. Phenom reliever Taura takes over from wild (6 walks over 5.1 innings) starter Yamashita and puts on another show.

Cuba play it agressive from the start. Lead off designated hitter Chapelli walks and second baseman Prieto advances him on a drag bunt base hit that includes a head first slide into first. A sacrifice bunt puts runners at second and third, but Japan starter Yamashita gets out of the jam despite loading the bases with a walk.

Right fielder Fujiwara leads off the bottom of the first for Japan with a double. Cuba starter Chi Montoya strikes out shortstop Kozono, but the ball gets by catcher Fadraga, Fujiwara gets to third and Kozono is safe at first. Fujiwara scores on a passed ball. Kozono advances to second and scores on a base hit by third baseman Yasuda.

Kyota Fujiwara (Christian J Stewart-WBSC)

Cuba comes right back in the top of the third. Prieto reaches on a base hit and touches second when first baseman Triana walks. Catcher Fadragas wastes no time and he drives Yamashita’s first pitch off the right field wall for a 2 RBI double.
Japan takes back the lead in the bottom of the third. Fujiwara walks and runs all the way to third on a base hit by Kozono. On the throw to third, Kozono reaches second. Cuba intentionally load the bases, but can’t avoid a run on first baseman Kiyomiya (saccrifice) fly to right. Left fielder Sakurai makes it 4-2 with a base hit that sends Chi MOntoya to the showers. Left hander Oscar
Hernandez heads to the mound. He walks designated hitter Inoue to load the bases, but makes it brilliantly out of the inning getting catcher Koga (fly to left field; Yasuda doesn’t even give a chance for a tag and go, as he moves halfway towards home plate) and center fielder Maruyama (a drag bunt fielded by the catcher).

Yamashita opens the sixth with back to back walks, that bring his total to 6. His game is over when he strikes out center fielder Roidel Martinez (seventh strike out). As a thunderstorm approaches, lefty Taura takes the mound and gets started striking out third baseman Yuri Fernandez and left fielder Victor Mesa.

Japan adds 2 runs in the bottom half of the frame. With one out, catcher Koga singles. Japan make then a scientific use of the small ball, loading the bases on a couple of bunts by center fielder Maruyama and second baseman Nishimaki. Fujiwara grounds to shortstop, but Cuba fails to complete the double play and Koga scores. A base hit by Kozono scores Maruyama and makes it 6-2.

Lefty Oscar Hernandez put Japan bats off balance (Christian J Stewart-WBSC)

Cuba struggle to hit the ball out of the infield, but somehow manage to reach base. The problem when Taura is pitching is that he can help himself with a strike out in any moment. So he survives an eigth inning jam caused by an infield hit, a defensive error and a passed ball striking out pinch hitter Noguera and, after intentionally loading the bases, getting second pinch hitter Benavides on a comebacker to the mound.

The last third of the game is played under the rain. Pitcher struggle with control and ,when the ball hits the wet ground, fielders experience difficulties. An error by Cuba shortstop Gonzalez gives Japan a chance to score again and Kozono makes the most of it with a single to center that scores Koga.
Tatsuya Shimizu takes the mound for Japan in the ninth.  He walks Chapelli and pinch hitter Andrial. Cuba apparently decide to refrain from swinging the bat and first baseman Triana strikes out looking. Fadraga works the count full, then hits a sharp liner to second. Nishimaki plays the wizard to stop the ball and starts a game ending double play with the throw to Kozono at second.

Japan players happy after the win against Cuba (Christian J Stewart-WBSC)

USA defeated (6-0, they used just a couple of hits) Mexico in a game shortened to 6 innings by rain.

Starter Matthew Liberatore gave non chance to Mexico, striking out 12 in 6 innings and allowing only one hit and 3 walks.
USA took the lead in the first against starter Cristian Mendoza (who would allow only 2 hits byt 8 walks) without getting a hit (Siani was hit by pitch and scored on an error) and never looked back. The defending champions added 2 in the fourth on a mere infield single and broke the score open adding 3 in the sixth off reliever Palafox again without getting a hit.

Under the rain it becomes a dangerous game (James Mirabelli-WBSC)