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PanAm'2023 | Brasil beat Cuba 4-2 in Group B of the tournament

Brazil advances to the Super Round as undefeated group leaders

At the Parque Bicentenario Cerrillos stadium in Santiago, Chile, Brazil continued its surprise performance in the baseball tournament of the XIX Pan American Games by defeating Cuba 4-2 in a historic result.

Brazil's victory over Cuba was its first ever in the history of these tournaments, leaving Cuba with little chances of advancing to the Super Round of the tournament.

Brazil won the battle for a spot in the Super Round, leaving Cuba with almost no chance of advancing to the final round, in a result that may turn out to be the worst result ever achieved by a Cuban team in Pan-American Games.

As for Cuba's fate in the tournament, it will have to wait for the result of the match between Venezuela and Colombia. If Venezuela beat Colombia, the Cubans still have the chance to play for fifth place at these Pan American Games. However, if Colombia beat Venezuela, Cuba's fate will be deciding using the TQB system to decide which team advances with Brazil.

Felipe R. Natel, the 34-year-old right-hander and game winner, kept the Cuban team at bay for 4 2/3 innings. Natel did not allow a hit during his outing. Natel faced only two threats in the first two innings. He kept the score intact, however, by shutting them down.

Since the second inning he went on to retire eight consecutive Cuban hitters until the fifth inning, when an error by the third baseman allowed Raúl González to reach first base. Natel got the second out in that inning, retiring catcher Andrys Pérez for the second time. However, an injury forced him to leave the mound. He threw an excellent game completing 4 2/3 innings, with no hits and giving up three walks, three strikeouts, with only 69 pitches, 41 of them strikes.

A single by the sixth hitter and left fielder, Fabio Murakami, and a sacrifice bunt by Lucas Rojo had Brazil its first runner in scoring position in the second inning against Cuban starter José R. Rodríguez. Then Murakami moved to third and then scored, after two consecutive errors by second baseman Yadil Mujica and Roberto Baldoquín, the shortstop.

José R. Rodríguez (Photo: Guillermo Yaber)

Right-hander José Ramón Rodríguez pitched well through four innings, allowing three hits, a walk, and a strikeout, before a poor defense led to the first run of the game. He should have pitched at least one more inning after a comfortable 67 pitches, but he was inexplicably replaced by Erlys Casanova in the fifth. Despite his efforts, Rodriguez was charged with the loss.

The change didn't go well at all. With one out in the fifth, Casanova allowed three consecutive singles from the middle of Brazil's lineup: Victor Mascai, Paulo Orlando and Shindi Koba. The latter drove in the second run for the visitors. Erlys exited the game after the hit while Renner Rivero entered to allow Murakami's second single of the game. Minutes later Lucas Rojo's double to deep left center capped the inning's three-run rally. Brazil was winning 4-0.

In the sixth inning, the Cubans ended the no-hit, no-run game against veteran right-hander Andre Rienzo.A triple by Dayán Ortega to right-center put Cuba on the board after Rienzo walked Gracial. Cuban offense would not get further in the inning, as Guibert hit a fly ball to center field, ending the inning.

Cuba would make its final threat in the seventh inning by scoring two runs against Brazil's new reliever, right-hander Enzo Sawayama.Raúl González led off the inning with a single. After pinch-hitter Yasniel González walked, Sawayama was relieved by right-hander Eric Taniguchi. Taniguchi, after retiring Luis González on a fly ball to right, allowed a single from Roel Santos that brought Cuba within two runs.

Nevertheless, Yadil Mujica surrendered all Cuban hope with two outs on a ground ball for a 3-6-3 double play that ended the game. This left Cuba's third hitter, Baldoquín, waiting for a crucial offensive turn. Ultimately, Taniguchi saved the game.

Group A

1. Panama 3-0 (*)

2. Mexico 2-1 (*)

3. Dominican Republic 1-2

4. Chile 0-3

Group B

1. Brazil 3-0 (*)

2. Venezuela 1-1

3. Cuba 1-2

4. Colombia 0-2

(*) Advanced to the Super Round