Cuba crowned first ever WBSC Baseball5 World Champions

12/11/2022
A Youth Baseball5 World Cup will be held next year before a second edition of the Baseball5 World Cup in 2024. Baseball5 will also feature in the sixth Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games and the ANOCA Beach Games in Tunisia next year and the Youth Olympic Games in 2026.
Pre-tournament favourites Cuba turned on the class to beat Asia vice-champions Japan in straight sets 2-0 (9-1, 6-2) in an amazing final of the inaugural WBSC Baseball5 World Cup 2022 in a pumping El Zocalo in Mexico City on Saturday.

It was an expected and a just result. Cuba, who had an astonishing average of 2.1 runs per inning prior to the final (next best Chinese Taipei (1.0), Venezuela (0.8), Japan (0.7)) and a run differential of +129 (next best Chinese Taipei with 52, Venezuela 16 and Japan 9), have been by the far the best team of the week and they once again showcased their full credentials in an impressive final performance.

A party atmosphere on centre court welcomed the teams at the inspirational El Zocalo and both Cuba and Japan didn’t disappoint, turning on the skill and drama to highlight the great attributes of the WBSC’s newest discipline.

There was standing room only and fans who couldn’t get inside the 2,000 capacity centre court watched the game on the big screen outside.

But it was Cuba, the country where the sport of Baseball5 was born, who dominated the week-long festival remaining undefeated across nine games, to take the World Championship title and their 42nd WBSC World Champion title overall (including 41 men’s baseball titles).

Cuba went into the final having not lost a match (winning all games previously 2-0), including a 2-0 (2-0; 5-2) win over Japan during the Opening Round, and the favourites tag sat well with them.

Japan started ominously with Takuya Shima hitting short of the foul line from the first play of the game while Cuba was immediately into gear with leadoff hitter Orlando Amador straight on first, Briandy Molina quickly followed before Amador scored on the back of a great hit from Roivelis Nunez. Briandy crossed soon after before Amador returned the favour for Nunez. It took a great double play from Ayako Rokkaku – catching Briandy out in centre field before making the out at first for Japan, whose defence has been one of the best of the tournament, to close the first innings with Cuba leading 3-0.

Japan had their moments but couldn’t convert at crucial times. With Shima on third and Rokkaku on first in the top of the second, Takeru Miyanohara hit it into the advertising wall on the full.

Next turn at bat and Cuba pounced once again with Nunez, Amador and Lietis Arcia scoring to make it 6-0. Briandy at this stage was on fire in centrefield for Cuba, keeping Japan quiet again in the top of the third before Amador pulled off one of the plays of the tournament, jumping over Ayano Kazuta on his way to second while Kazuta was grounded fielding a Briandy hit.

This got the crowd even more excited and Cuba played to their rhythm with Amador and Briandy both scoring to make it 8-0 after three innings.

Finally Japan got on the board in the fourth with Shima getting home to make it 8-1 but Briandy had the last say, scoring straight after before making a great play to Nunez on second base to close the match 9-1.

Japan made a better start to the second match with Shima scoring in the first innings but Cuba matched everything Japan could throw at them and more with Amador, Briandy, Nunez and Martinez to give Cuba a 4-1 lead.

Shima scored again in the second after a fumble by Chaquira Azpiazu at first, which closed the score to 4-2 but Amador was in imperious form scoring again along with Arcia in the bottom of the fourth. With Cuba leading 6-2 in the top of the fifth, all eyes were on Japan to see if the could muster a comeback but it was not meant to be with Shun Mikami putting it over the advertising board to spark Cuba wild celebrations.

The first ever WBSC Baseball5 World Cup will be followed by the Youth Baseball5 World Cup next year and a second edition of the Baseball5 World Cup in 2024. It will also feature in the sixth Asian Indoor & Martial Arts Games and the ANOCA Beach Games in Tunisia next year. Baseball5 was showcased during the Tokyo 2020 Paralympics and will also feature in the Youth Olympic Games in 2026.