16U: Cuba wins Thriller against Japan

Cuban team blows big lead, but still prevails 6-5 thanks to Wild Pitch Romo Chavez Stadium. Aguascalientes. August 20, 2011.

After getting hit with a forfeit on day one Cuba got into the win column in Group B on Saturday, defeating Japan 6-5 in front of about 4,000 spectators at Romo Chavez Stadium in Aguascalientes. It was not an easy victory, as they blew a 5-0 lead in the process before plating the decisive run on a wild pitch in the bottom of the eighth. Japan dropped to 0-2, having lost to Venezuela in the opener.

Despite the travel difficulties Cuba didn’t show any rust and took a 5-0 lead after six innings. An error helped them to two runs in the fourth, three more scored on a two-run double by Julio Cabrera and a wild pitch.

But Japan came back. Kyuji Ogawa led off the seventh with a solo homerun. RBI doubles by Daiki Asama and Toshiki Fukuda, as well as a RBI single by Yuuki Yoshida added three more runs to the board in the frame. Asama would tie the game one inning later, when he crossed the plate on a throwing error by the Cuban right fielder.

They celebrated only for a few minutes. Cabrera reached base with a one-out single in the bottom of the eighth. He moved to second on the same play, when the shortstop threw the ball away. Another error, this time by the second baseman moved him to third with two outs and a wild pitch finally helped him to cross the plate. Japan went down in order in the ninth and Cuba had its first win.

Jose Pazos (CUB) issued four hits, four runs and three base on balls in six-plus innings. He struck out seven batters during his strong start, which ended with a sour note. Daiki Tajima (JPN) surrendered seven hits, five runs (3 ER) and three walks in five innings. Aldo Conrado (W, 1-0) picked up the win with 1 1/3 innings of perfect relief. Shota Tatsuta (L, 0-1) took the loss.

On Sunday Japan will be back at Romo Chavez Stadium in the evening for a matchup with the Netherlands.