FROM CBD NEWS SOURCE
HAVANA – The USA Baseball Collegiate National Team couldn’t find an answer for Cuban starting pitcher Freddy Alvarez who struck out eight and allowed just two hits in 7.1 innings to lead Cuba to a 5-2 win on Sunday afternoon at Latin American Stadium.
Team USA fell behind early and played catch-up all game. Trailing by four with two outs in the bottom of the eighth inning, the U.S. put together a two-out rally, getting a single from Kyle Farmer (Georgia), a double by Austin Cousino (Kentucky) and another two-bagger, which drove in both runners, by Johnny Field (Arizona).
Finally on the scoreboard, the Red, White and Blue found itself just one swing of the bat away from tying the contest but Cuba closer Pablo Milian Fernandez came on to shut the door, getting the final four outs of the game.
Although saddled with the loss, U.S. starter Ryne Stanek (Arkansas) pitched well in hot and humid conditions in Havana, striking out four and yielding three runs – two earned – in six strong innings. Dan Child (Oregon State) made his first appearance of the series, striking out three in two frames of work, before Trevor Williams (Arizona State) twirled a scoreless ninth.
The U.S. managed just five hits for the entire contest, Field and Cousino each adding singles in addition to the three-straight hits in the eighth.
The difference in the game came down to free passes, as Team USA issued nine, compared to just two by Cuba.
Playing as the visiting team in its own stadium, Cuba got the scoring started in the top of the first with an RBI single by Frederich Cepeda. It was almost a two-run deficit right out of the gate for the U.S. as Jose Abreu later singled with two runners on base, but Michael Lorenzen (Cal State Fullerton) made a heads-up play by in center, throwing behind the runner at second for the third out before the run crossed the plate.
Two innings later, a leadoff, two-base error came back to haunt Team USA as Cuba bunted the runner to third, allowing him to score on a wild pitch just moments later. Cepeda then struck again in the fifth, blasting a 3-2 pitch to left for a solo home to put Cuba up 3-0.
In the top of the eighth, Cuba tacked on another tally as William Luis stroked a pinch-hit RBI single to right to make it 4-0.
Following Field’s two-run double in the home half of the frame, Cuba got one of the runs back in the ninth thanks to the hustle of Alexei Bell. The “Toy Cannon” led off the frame by getting hit by a pitch and promptly stole second. He then took off for third and was able to score as the throw from the catcher sailed into left field.
The five-game series between Cuba and the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team will conclude at 8 p.m. on Monday at Latin American Stadium in Havana. Southpaw Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) is slated to make the start for the Red, White and Blue.