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USA Baseball defeats Cuba 5-2 in Honkbal Tourney

HAARLEM — Trea Turner went 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs scored, an RBI and a stolen base and the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team scored three runs in the seventh to defeat Cuba, 5-2, and improve to 2-0 in pool play in Honkbal Week at Pim Mulier Stadium on Sunday.

“What a great baseball game between two very well respected teams in a fun and exciting atmosphere,” Team USA manager Dave Serrano said. “We had five battles over there in Cuba and I think those prepared us for this victory tonight.

“Trea has been struggling a little bit and he came out of it in a big way tonight. When Trea Turner rolls, our offense rolls. He came up with some big at-bats in some big situations and helped us chip away to get five runs and allow our pitching staff to do what it does and preserve the win.”

Starting pitcher Jonathon Crawford (Florida) battled through 5.1 hard-fought innings before handing the ball over to southpaw Carlos Rodon (North Carolina State) with the score tied at 2-2.

Rodon would go on to earn the win, working two shutout frames while the U.S. bats came alive. Bobby Wahl (Mississippi) would then come on to record the next four outs before Michael Lorenzen (Cal State Fullerton) got the always dangerous Yulieski Gourriel to fly out to center to end the game and preserve the win.

In addition to Turner’s sterling effort, D.J. Peterson (New Mexico) also had a solid day at the plate, going 2-for-4 with his third home run in six games against Cuba. He actually got the scoring started with his solo shot in the bottom of the first before Gourriel tied it with a one-hop RBI double off the wall in left in the third.

Team USA jumped back in front in the home half of the frame thanks to a defensive miscue by Cuba. With one out in the stanza, Turner ripped a double down the left-field line. He promptly stole third before coming in to score on a strikeout as the batter missed a pitch in the dirt but the throw to first from the catcher sailed into right for an error.

The U.S. was right back at it in the fourth, threatening to add to its lead in the fourth. Using a leadoff single by Jose Trevino (Oral Roberts) and Cuba’s second error of the game to put two runners on with nobody out, it then tried to lay down a sacrifice bunt but it was fielded perfectly by Gourriel and he was able to get the runner at third to start a 5-6-3 double play that effectively thwarted the rally.

The Collegiate National Team returned the favor in the very next frame though, as Cuba put two runners on with just one out and the heart of its order coming up to bat. Crawford was able to work out of the jam, getting Gourriel to pop up behind the plate and Frederich Cepeda to fly out to center.

Although Cuba tied the game back up on a solo home run by Alfredo Despaigne in the sixth inning, the Red, White and Blue struck for three runs against a bevy of Cuban relievers in the seventh to take a 5-2 advantage.

Kyle Farmer (Georgia) got the inning started by taking a pitch off his left arm to earn a free pass. Turner then knocked a double off the left-field wall, his second of the day, to bring Farmer all the way around to score what would eventually be the game-winning run. After a four-pitch walk to Johnny Field (Arizona), Peterson followed with a bunt single down the first-base line to load the bases.

Cuba reliever Norberto Gonzalez was able to get Michael Conforto (Oregon State), who previously hit a grand slam off of him in Havana, to pop out to short, but his teammate Pablo Fernandez didn’t fare quite so well as Kris Bryant (San Diego) smoked an RBI single to left and Trevino tacked another run on with a sacrifice fly to center to put the U.S. up 5-2.

The U.S. held its opponent in check in the eighth, but played with fire a little in the ninth as Cuba loaded the bases with a double, a single and a walk. Lorenzen was called in from right field and slammed the door, however, inducing a flyout to center off the bat of Gourriel to end the game.

Team USA will have Monday off before continuing pool play against Puerto Rico at 2 p.m. on Tuesday. The U.S. will also play Chinese Taipei on Wednesday and the Netherlands on Thursday before the beginning of the medal-round games on Friday, July 20.

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