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  • 09 / 24 / 2006

By Sigfredo Barrios, Granma

Mexico surprised Chinese Taipei. Lamadrid leads hitters. Cuba KO over South Africa with homer by Carlos Mesa.

It was no surprise that Cuba won a 7-inning mercy rule shortened game 13-1 over South Africa Friday, but Mexico pulled a major upset by defeating Chinese Taipei 5-3 in 13 innings.

With their fifth consecutive win, the undefeated Cuban team battling to win the 22nd "AAA" World Junior Baseball Championship, now faces the United States (3-2), in the sudden death game that opens the final round of competition on Sunday.

Like Cuba, the US had an easy time on Friday defeating Spain 11-1 in seven innings. Greg Peavy struck out 12 and Tommy Medica went 3 for 4. Spains lone run came on a homer by Xavier Gonzalez, his second of the tournament.

Cubas manager Carlos Marti wanted to save his top pitchers for the next round and gave righthander Alberto Soto the starting assignment to pitch two innings to loosen up since he hadnt pitched in five days. He was followed by lefthander Aroldis Chapman who retired the nine consecutive batters he faced with six strikeouts to get the win. Slugger Dayan Viciedo, used normally as an infielder, came on to close giving up one run and striking out four in two innings.

Carlos Mesa hit Cubas second homerun but the most productive bats were Darian Gonzales, 2 for 4 with 4 RBIs and Yoquey Perez, who had a triple and drove in three to reach a leading nine for the tournament. Leandro Lamadrid failed to get a hit in one at-bat but he is the new tournament leader with a .500 average, tied with South African Botha and Michael Main from the US.

In the best game of the day, Mexico and Chinese Taipei battled 13 innings. In their final at-bat the Mexicans played Asian style and with the bases loaded used three straight squeeze play bunts to score three runs and assure second place in Group B, while Mexico finished third.

Canada shut out Italy 10-0 in 8 innings with Cory Hall striking out 7 in seven innings and Jonathan Waltenbury going 2 for 3 with a home run and 2 RBIs. Chris Dennis went 3 for 4 with 3 RBIs. The Canadians finished on top of Group B and will play Panama, fourth in Group A, in their sudden death game on Sunday.

In Fridays other two games, South Korea breezed 9-1 over Holland with four pitchers striking out 15 rivals, and Panama upset Australia with a 3-0 shutout to become the last team to qualify for the final round of play.


Group A: Cuba 5-0, Korea 3-2, Holland 3-2, Panama 2-3, Australia 2-3 and South Africa 0-5.

Group B: Canada 4-1, Chinese Taipei 3-2, Mexico 3-2, US 3-2, Italy 2-3 and Spain 0-5.

Saturday was a day off for all teams.

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