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PanAm-U23'2023 | Cuba's 10-5 win over Venezuela fuels World Cup hopes

Updated: Dec 4, 2023

With six runs in the eighth inning, the Cubans won by the tie-break rule

Cuba's U23 baseball team made a significant step in its chances of making the 2024 World Cup in China in a game that truly left the greatest emotions at the end. This Tuesday, Cuba defeated Venezuela 10-5 in Managua, Nicaragua, using the Tie-break rule.

The game would be defined by Cuba scoring six runs during an interminable eight-inning for Venezuela's pitchers.

A two-run homer by Cuba's Guillermo García knocked down Venezuela just one out from a World Cup ticket, when right-handed reliever Jhan Zambrano gave up a 3-2 lead to Cuba in the seventh inning.

However, in the bottom of the seventh, Victor Arias hit a solo home run against closer Randy Cueto with two outs. This tied the game at 4-4 and forced extra innings.

Cuba, with a 3-1 record in the pre-World Cup tournament, now stands in second place in Group B, while Venezuela, with the same record, will try to keep its World Cup hopes alive this Wednesday.

For the moment, Colombia is the only undefeated team in the group. At night, the Colombians will play Curacao.

Against Cuban starter Albert Valladares, Venezuela scored first with a walk to Victor Arias and a double to left center by David García.

While Valladares allowed the run, he pitched a duel with Venezuelan right-handed starter Brayan Zalaya in the first three innings to keep the score the same.

Cuba took control of the game in the fourth inning.A hit by Andrys Pérez and consecutive walks by Alejandro J. Escobar and Carlos Monier put Zalaya in big trouble. Fermín Acosta replaced him and got two outs quickly, retiring Euclides Pérez via double play, but not without avoiding the 1-1 tie when Pérez scored from third. Minutes later, Cuba took the lead with Jean Baldoquin's RBI single that drove in Escobar.

Nonetheless, Venezuela regained the lead in the bottom of the fourth inning. A walk to Víctor Arias and a triple by Antoni Flores produced the tie and sent Valladares back to the dugout. Wilfred Astudillo's single to left off reliever Alex Guerra gave Venezuela a 3-2 lead.

Besides García's homer, another key piece in Cuban's win was right-hander reliever Rafael Perdomo. His 2 2/3 scoreless innings limited Venezuela's offensive to three hits while striking out one and walking none. The Cuban bats were given a chance to comeback thanks to his work.

The winning pitcher, Randy Cueto, who surrendered the tying homer in the seventh inning, was hit hard during his outing. He allowed another run in the eighth inning but closed the game. Wilker Palma was charged with the loss.

On Wednesday at 7:05 pm, Cuba will take on Panama, while at 12:05 pm Venezuela will take on Colombia. If Venezuela loses and Cuba wins, the island will qualify for the 2024 World Cup.