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Cuba defeats Alabama 6-2

HAVANA, Cuba – The Cuban Collegiate All-Stars used a three-run third inning to defeat the University of Alabama baseball team, 6-2, in game two of the 2008 Friendship Tournament at Latin American Stadium Wednesday afternoon in Havana, Cuba. Center fielder Yoennis Cespedes delivered the big blow with a two-run double in the third inning.

Cuba (1-0-1) out-hit Alabama 11-4 in the win and six of the nine starters had at least one hit. Third baseman Adonis Garcia went 3 for 4 with two stolen bases and scored one run to pace the Cuban attack. Shortstop David Castillo had two hits, one stolen base and scored one run.

For the second straight day Cuba (1-0-1) jumped out to a 3-0 lead, taking advantage of a pair of walks in the third inning. The three-run inning began when UA starter Miers Quigley walked Henry Urruita. After striking out Yolexis LaRosa, Quigley walked Adalberto Ibarra before Castillo reached on a bunt single to load the bases with one out. Leonys Martin drove in the game’s first run with a sacrifice fly to left, scoring Urruita from third base. Cespedes capped the inning with his two-run double off the left field wall.

Quigley (0-1) allowed three runs and five hits in four innings and took the loss for the Tide. In all, Alabama used six pitchers including sophomore Austin Evans, junior David Head, sophomore Nathan Kilcrease, junior Scott Hays and senior Casey Kebodeaux.

Cuba starter Maikel Forch, a member of the 2008 World Games baseball team, held the Tide to one run on three hits in five innings for the win. He added three walks and struck out two. Jose Garcia worked the final two innings for the save, with four strikeouts.

“We had too many walks and errors,” Alabama head coach Jim Wells said. “We gave away too many walks to the bottom of the order, although I’m not sure it matters with this team. We just made too many mistakes and gave away too many runs.”

Alabama pitchers issued six walks and the Tide defense made two more errors in game two. Those miscues resulted in five runs.

The Crimson Tide (0-1-1) tallied its first hit and first run of the game in the bottom of the fourth inning, cutting the lead to 3-1. Sophomore shortstop Josh Rutledge led off the inning with a triple to right-center field and scored on junior left fielder Brandon May’s ground out to second base.

Cuba took advantage of a two-out walk and subsequent error in the sixth inning to extend its lead to 4-1. Adonis Garcia led off the inning with a single to left field before junior left-hander David Head retired the next two hitters. Head then issued a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Adalberto Ibarra and David Castillo reached on a Rutledge’s throwing error, which allowed Garcia to score on the play.

The Tide pushed a run across in the bottom of the seventh inning to cut the lead to 4-2. Junior first baseman Clay Jones opened the inning with a single up the middle. Jones had two hits and reached base three times in the game. Junior third baseman Jake Smith followed with a 10-pitch at-bat that culminated in a walk. Redshirt freshman Jon Kelton entered the game a pinch-hitter and laid down a sacrifice bunt to out two runners in scoring position. Freshman centerfielder Taylor Dugas lifted a fly ball to left to easily score Jones from third base to cut the lead in half.

Cuba added a pair of unearned runs in the ninth as Rutledge’s second error of the game prolonged the inning and allowed Yoleas LaRosa to cap the scoring with a two-run single.

Alabama and Cuba close out their exhibition series Thursday at 2 p.m. (CST) in Havana. Freshman left-hander Adam Morgan will start on the mound for UA. Alabama concludes its trip on Thursday and travels back to Tuscaloosa Friday.

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