Italy emerged victorious against Cuba in a thrilling extra-innings match at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Pool A of the World Baseball Classic. The game featured an array of exciting moments, including big hits, strikeouts, fielding errors, back-and-forth scoring, and dugout-clearing celebrations after singles. After ten innings of play, Mike Piazza’s Team Italy secured a significant 6-3 win against Cuba.
The game’s first five innings passed by quickly, played within a crisp hour and a half. Cuba’s starter, Roenis Elías, a Mariners reliever, pitched five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits. Italy’s starter, Matt Harvey, and reliever Andre Pallante, matched Elías by delivering five scoreless innings, giving up only three hits.
In the sixth inning, the game picked up momentum as Italy scored the first run on a Brett Sullivan sacrifice fly. They added another run in the seventh inning with the help of a Yoenis Céspedes-assisted double. Cuba bounced back with a run in the seventh inning and then another significant two-out Erisbel Arruebarrena RBI single in the eighth inning, causing his teammates to erupt in celebration.
Both teams went down in order in the ninth inning. However, for the first time in World Baseball Classic history, it was extra-runner time at second base. Sal Frelick was the man on second for Italy, and he caught Cuba off guard and stole third base. John Valente knocked Frelick in with a single up the middle, and Italy piled on more runs. Dominic Fletcher added an insurance run with an RBI double into the right-center-field gap, and after Cuba intentionally walked David Fletcher to get to Nicky Lopez, the Royals’ speedster made manager Armando Johnson pay with a game-breaking, two-run single up the middle.
Cuba added one run in the bottom of the inning, but it was not enough to catch up with Italy, who secured a significant victory in their first game of the week. Italy will face Chinese Taipei in their next game, while Cuba will take on Panama. Each team will play against the other four in round-robin play, with the pool’s winner and runner-up advancing to the quarterfinals in Tokyo against the top teams from Pool B.