Puerto Rico advanced to the Caribbean Cup final with a 4-2 win over Cuba Saturday. (Photo courtesy Federación Béisbol Aficionado Puerto Rico)
By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
FAJARDO, Puerto Rico – Cuba advanced to the final of the Fifth Caribbean Cup with a 4-2 win against Puerto Rico.
Cuba improved to 3-0 at the Caribbean Cup, and starting pitcher Carlos Viera threw threw four innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, one walk, and two strikeouts, sending them to the championship game, where they will face Curacao.
“I wanted to start by thanking god for the opportunity and I tried to pitch different pitches to each hitter and I tried to get into the zone sometimes with a little bit of spots being just squeezed a bit but I was right in the mix with [my catcher Andrys]Perez working through certain sequences against their offense,” Viera told World Baseball Network in Spanish following the game
The Cuba bullpen sent three pitchers to the bump, and Jonathan Carbo, Naykel Cruz, and Yeduis Reyes combined for three innings, allowing two hits, one earned run, no walks, and three strikeouts during Saturday’s 4-2 win over world No. 11 Puerto Rico.
In the bottom of the first, Cuba got on the board when Erisbel Arruebarruena laced a double that bounced in front of the left field wall and Roberto Bardoquin came in to score Cuba’s first run of the game.
In the top of the third inning, Puerto Rico tied the game up at one apiece when center fielder Miguel Egea drew a two-out walk and then stole second base.
Jeremy Rivera hit a grounder to Cuba second baseman Yadil Mujica, who tried to field the ball off balance and fired the ball to first base, but Rivera beat out the throw, allowing Egea to come in to score to tie it up at 1-1.
During the top of the fifth inning, Puerto Rico regained the lead when Rivera led off the inning with a solo home run over the left center field wall to it 2-1.
In the bottom of the fifth inning, Cuba left fielder Yurisbel Gracial drove a two-run home run over the left field, scoring Baldoquin to jump back into the game at 3-2.
“I was just trying to hit the ball well and be ready for that pitch, then I was lucky to hit the ball to grab the lead during that part of the game,” Gracial told to World Baseball Network in Spanish after the game.
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Bardoquin lofted a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring second baseman Yadil Mujica to extend the Cuba lead to 4-2.
Cuba will play Curacao for the second time in the gold medal game at the Caribbean Cup on Sunday.
Puerto Rico will look to medal for the second straight year at the Caribbean Cup on Sunday against the United States Virgin Islands in the bronze medal game. Puerto Rico beat Cuba in the gold medal game last December in the Bahamas at Andre Rodgers National Stadium.
World ranking points can help Puerto Rico establish a spot in the Premier 12 in November of next year with a win on Sunday against the United States Virgin Islands.
Curacao 16, USVI 2, 5 Innings: Curacao routed the United States Virgin Islands 16-2 in five innings to reach the final game of the 2023 Caribbean Cup.
Curacao starting pitcher Ruderly Manuel threw 3.2 innings, allowing four hits, two earned runs, three walks, and five strikeouts.
“I felt great and I am with the job I did to help get to the gold medal game and hopefully we come out on Sunday and do the same thing that we did today,” Manuel said via a translator.
Curacao relief pitcher Sedley Karel entered the game in the bottom of the fourth inning and finished the game throwing 1.1 innings allowing two hits, no earned runs, no walks, and one strikeout.
In the top of the first inning, Curacao left fielder Erickson Leonora balsted a three-home run over the left field wall, scoring shortstop Andrelton Simmons and third baseman Raywendley Van Gurp for a 3-0 lead. It was all they would need.
Curacao tallied 10 runs off six hits against the United States Virgin Islands pitching staff during the fourth inning.
Curacao, ranked No. 28 in the world, will appear in the gold medal game of the Caribbean Cup for the third time in its nation’s history. Previously, Curacao won the gold on home soil during the 2021 Caribbean Cup at Tao Daou Stadium against Cuba.
Curacao will look to win their second gold medal at the Caribbean Cup when they go up against Cuba on Sunday in Fajardo, Puerto Rico at Estadio Concepción Pérez Alberto at 4 p.m. EDT streaming on https://r1live.com/ with a paid subscription service.
The United States Virgin Islands will play Puerto Rico in the bronze medal game at 1 p.m. EDT at Parque Beisbol Doble-A Emilio Huyuke Las Piedras, Puerto Rico streaming on https://r1live.com/ with a paid subscription service.