The Cuban national team beat the Kingdom of the Netherlands by a narrow margin: 6 – 5
After taking an early 1-0 lead, Cuban pitcher Frank Montieth could not hold the Dutch bats at bay. In the bottom of the third inning, the Dutch scored two runs as Kalian Sams and Sharlon Schoop were the runners in scoring position as Carlton Daal singled to first base to drive in Kalian Sams. Sharlon Schoop moved to third and eventually scored as Randolph Oduber doubled to center field to give the Dutch a 2-1 lead. After Curt Smith got on base in the fourth, Shawn Zarraga hit a two run homer to extend the lead to three runs.
After giving up the 1-0 lead, Jair Jurrjens, who got the nod of Hensley Meulens, kept the Cubans in check rather well until the sixth inning. That sixth appeared to be one inning too much for him. After Lourdes Gourriel, Yulieski Gourriel and Alfredo Despaigne brought Cuba back to a 3-4 score, Estayle Hernandez hit a two run bomb to give Cuba a 5-4 lead in the sixth.
The Dutch managed to tie the game again in the bottom of the sixth, when Andruw Jones scored on a wild pitch.
In the meantime catcher Shawn Zarraga left the game with a hand injury. It is not clear yet how serious the injury is, but it is the third player of the Dutch squad that gets injured, even though the injury of Diegomar Markwell doesn’t seem too serious as the lower part of his pitching arm was bruised.
After Juan Carlos Sulbaran, who had replaced Jair Jurrjens in the sixth, gave up two singles to the Cubans in the eighth inning, he was replaced by Jim Ploeger who managed to get one out before he was replaced by Byron Cornelisse. With runners in scoring position, Yosvany Alarcon hit a ground ball single to left field to drive in the winning run.
The Dutch had a chance to tie the game in the eighth as they had runners on first and second, but when Kalian Sams grounded into an inning ending double play, the last big chance was over.
In the ninth, Cuban reliever Jose Garcia retired the first two hitters before Randolph Oduber hit a fly ball to right field. Normally this would have been a basehit (at least) but thanks to a fantastic catch by left fielder Lourdes Gourriel, the game was won by the Cubans.
Jose Garcia earned the win for Cuba and Juan Carlos Sulbaran took the loss.
Best hitter for the Netherlands was (batting average wise) Dashenko Ricardo, who went 1 for 1, but the most impact had Shawn Zarraga who went 1 for 3 with two runs batted in.
For the neutral fan this must have been a great game as the score went back and forth and the outcome could have gone both ways. Both teams were each other’s match, but the scale tipped towards the Cubans this time.