Cuba outgun Japan to make baseball final
Cuba, led by Jose Ariel Contreras and Orestes Kindelan, advanced to the Olympic baseball final on Tuesday by defeating Japan 3-0 in the semi-finals at Olympic Park Stadium.
Double Olympic champions Cuba will play the winner of Tuesday night's semi-final between the United States and South Korea for the gold on Wednesday.
Contreras shut out the Japanese on six hits. The hard-throwing righthander struck out nine without walking a single batter.
The offence was supplied by power-hitting first baseman Orestes Kindelan.
Kindelan drove in all the runs for Cuba, knocking in the first run with a line drive single to left in the fourth inning and then bringing home two more runs with another sharp single to left in the sixth off starter and losing pitcher Tomohiro Kuroki.
"He's the best in the world," Kuroki said about Kindelan. "I was well prepared for him but I threw the ball too high, and he hit it. He's the best player, so it is not easy."
DELAY FAILED TO MAR CONTRERAS BRILLIANCE
The start of the game was delayed by 10 minutes due to rain, and after the first half inning of the contest, rain stopped play again for more than an hour. The long delay failed to affect the brilliance of Contreras.
The Japanese had two good scoring chances against Contreras, but failed to break through.
Japan had runners on first and second with one out in the fourth, but first baseman Nobuhiko Matsunaka, who entered the game hitting .370 in the tournament, grounded into a double play.
In the seventh inning, Japan had men on first and third with one out, but Contreras struck out Yukio Tanaka and retired pinch hitter Shinnosuke Abe on a grounder to second.
Some faulty Japanese play in the field contributed to Cuba's scoring.
Cuban manager Servio Borges said the difference was the pitching of Contreras.
"We think Japan are a very, very good team and a strong team," Borges said. "In baseball, however, we say when you have a very good pitcher, there are no batters."
Mail your comments