WBC 2017: Cuba gives game away in eighth

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Cuba let Japan work hard for its money. The Caribbean nation took the lead twice but eventually gave the game away in the eighth inning as it was beaten by Japan 8-5.

Japan took an early lead in the bottom of the first on a solo homerun hit by Tetsuto Yamada. But Cuba fought back and took the lead for the first time as Yurisbel Gracial homered as well, but this time with a runner on board in the top of the second inning.

Japan on its turn, scored again in the bottom of the third. Tetsuto Yamada hit a leadoff double on a line drive to left field and advanced to third on Ryosuke Kikuchi’s 4-3 ground out. Eventually, with two outs, Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh singled home Yamada on a ground ball to center field.

After Cuba scored two runs again in the fourth inning to take the lead, Japan came alongside as they scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth.

Both teams scored a run in the sixth to make it 5-5.

After Tomoyuki Sugano was pulled in the top of the fifth after giving up four runs in four innings of work, the Japanese pitching staff kept Cuba in check rather well. Only Hirotoshi Masui gave up a run on two hits in the sixth inning but the other Japanese pitchers kept Cuba from scoring runs.

The aforementioned disastrous eighth inning started with a catch error by first baseman Willian Saavedra which allowed Nobuhiro Matsuda to reach first base safely. Shogo Akiyama then singled to left field on a fly ball and Matsuda advanced to third base on the hit. Then Seiichi Uchikawa hit a sac fly to right field and allowed Matsuda to score the go-ahead run. Tetsuto Yamada then homered for the second time in this game to drive in two insurance runs for Japan.

Kazuhisa Makita took the mound in the top of the ninth to close out the game for Japan. He did what he had to do as he retired the side by striking out two for the save.

Relief pitcher Ryo Akiyoshi earned the win after pitching the eighth inning in which he gave up one hit.

DH Tetsuto Yamada went 3 for 4 with three runs batted in and four runs scored.

Thanks to this win, Japan has clinched a spot in the semi-finals in Los Angeles. Where it will face the runner up of group F.

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