Samurai Japan complete sweep of Cuba

SAPPORO (Kyodo) -- Samurai Japan improved to 2-0 under new manager Koji Yamamoto on Sunday with a 3-1 victory over Cuba.
Stymied for six innings by Cuban right-hander Freddy Alvarez, Shota Dobayashi broke the ice in the eighth, when the Hiroshima Carp youngster tripled and came home on a sacrifice fly by Yomiuri Giants shortstop Hayato Sakamoto. Japan added another run, when hometown hero Yoshio Itoi of the Nippon Ham Fighters tripled and scored on a wild pitch the same inning at Sapporo Dome.
Japan's pitchers failed to equal the dominance they showed in a three-hit shutout in Fukuoka on Friday. But despite allowing nine hits, they issued no walks for the second straight game. Cuba and Japan will be grouped together in the first round of March's World Baseball Classic in Fukuoka.
"These were good results for us, and a good way to end the season," said Japan captain Shinnosuke Abe, who did not play against Cuba after being hurt in the Japan Series. "The Cubans haven't even started their season. I expect they will be sharper next March."
The sweep left the Cubans record at 2-3 on their preseason trip through Asia after three games in Taiwan.
"It has been an extremely valuable trip for us," Cuba skipper Victor Mesa said. "Tonight's issue was leaving seven men on base. That's something we have to work on. We made a few mistakes on the mound but otherwise the pitchers did a good job."

(Read full story on The Mainichi)