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Cuba vs Japan today in World Baseball Classic
The Cuban baseball team, undefeated in its three games in Group B of the first round of World Baseball Classic II, arrived to San Diego on Friday where it will join South Korea, Japan and Mexico in the second round of action.

During the first round, Norge Luis Vera, Ismel Jiménez and Yulieski González were the winning pitchers for Cuba and the left-handed missile launcher from Holguin, Aroldis Chapman, struck out a team-leading seven.

The Cubans had 11 homeruns (one less than México): three by Frederich Cepeda; two each from Yoenis Céspedes and Yulieski Gourriel; and one by Yosvany Peraza, Ariel Pestano, Alfredo Despaigne and Héctor Olivera.

Frederich Cepeda, the left fielder from Sancti Spiritus batting third in the Team Cuba lineup, leads the team in RBIs with six, followed by Yulieski and Michel Enríquez with five each.

Three years ago in the first Classic, Cuba took on Japan in the final in the same Petco Park where they meet again in the first game of round two in their group on Sunday.

Catcher Kenji Johjima (10-5) and Hiroyuki Nakajima (8-4) lead the Japanese team who batted a team average of .500 in the Asian group. Johjima had five hits and a .800 average, while Nakajima chalked up a .667 batting average with men on base and batted two doubles. Shuichi Murata hit two home runs and drove in five.

Right-handers Daisuke Matsuzaka and Yu Darvish got the two wins for Japan in round one. Without a doubt one of these two pitchers will open for Japan against Cuba; probably Matsuzaka, the winner in the final match of the 2006 Classic, rather than Darvish who unable to beat the Cubans in the Beijing Olympics.

Action in Florida

The other group in round two gets underway on Saturday at Dolphin Stadium in Miami with Venezuela taking on Holland and the United States versus Puerto Rico.


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