Cuba beat Australia, advance to World Baseball Classic semifinals

Cuba beat Australia, advance to World Baseball Classic semifinals
A bases-loaded single by Yoelkis Guibert broke the tie in the fifth before Cuba went on to beat Australia 4-3. Japan will take on Italy in the second quarterfinal on Thursday, 16 March.

World No. 8 Cuba beat No. 10 Australia in the first World Baseball Classic quarterfinal in front of 35,061 fans at the Tokyo Dome, 4-3.

"We played a great game," commented Cuba's manager Armando Johnson. "Our lineup managed to stay away from double plays, and our bullpen did a great job in protecting a tiny lead."

Australia took the first lead and Cuba needed some great defence to stay in the game.

Cuba took the lead in the bottom of the fifth. With the game tied at one, a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Alfredo Despaigne gave Cuba the lead. Erisbel Arruebarruena followed with a base hit, and right fielder Yoelkis Guibert delivered a two-RBI single against reliever Jon Kennedy to make it 4-1.

"I was trying to make good contact and stay away from the double play," commented Guibert postgame. "Thank God; I batted in the two runs."

Australia stayed in the game thanks to a two-run home run by Rixon Wingrove off reliever Roenis Elias.

Elias pitched a scoreless seventh inning, and Livan Moinelo and Raidel Martinez took care of the final six outs.

"The first couple of games in Taichung were tough," commented Johnson. "Then our team came together. We had to adjust since we had MLB players for the first time, and they joined the group late. Now we are looking forward to the next stage in Miami."

"I'm very disappointed," commented Australia's manager David Nilsson. "We had our chances but couldn't deliver. I tip my cap to Cuba. They made the most of their opportunities."

Cuba will face the winner of the quarterfinal between the Group C runner-up and Group D winner, scheduled on Sunday, 19 March.

Japan will face Italy at the Tokyo Dome in the second quarterfinal on Thursday, 16 March, at 7pm local time. Samurai Japan picked two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani as their starting pitcher. Italy will give the ball to right-hander Ryan Castellani, a 26-year-old who spent most of his 2022 season at Triple-A and appeared in three MLB games for the Oakland A's.

The winner of Japan-Italy will face on Monday, 21 March, the team prevailing in the quarterfinal between Group D runner-up and Group C winner, scheduled for Saturday, 18 March.