Cuba, Panama 2-0 at U-15 Baseball World Cup; Aussies, Chinese Taipei earn first wins

Two-time defending U-15 World Champions Cuba as well as host Panama improved to 2-0 in the WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018, while Chinese Taipei and Australia both recorded their first wins of the global tournament.

Chinese Taipei 9, Brazil 7

With their backs against the wall, world No. 6 Chinese Taipei scored eight runs in the seventh inning to avoid an upset with No. 19 Brazil.

Down to their final three outs and trailing 5-1, Chinese Taipei used five walks, a hit batter and four hits, including a two-run single from Kuei Yu to even their record to 1-1.

Shan-Tsung Peng was awarded the victory with a scoreless inning of relief with one strikeout.

Sulivan Ribeiro de Almeida suffered the loss after Brazil starter Joāo Sakurai Ferreira worked four innings allowing just one run.

Australia 16, South Africa 6

Bash brothers James Nati and Jake Burns.

World No. 8 Australia received home runs from James Nati and Jake Burns to earn a 16-6 victory over No. 26 South Africa.

Quinn Johnson’s two-run single highlighted a five-run first inning for Australia and he would finish the game with five RBI while Burns added four.

South Africa made things interesting in the fifth, scoring five runs courtesy a Nicholas De Ascensāo two run single while Kyle Schwartz drove in three on a double.

Ian Lee was credited with the win for Australia while Nathan Grobler took the loss for South Africa.

Panama 2, China 1

Leonardo Bernal Carrion led off the top of the sixth with a triple and took home with two out on a wild pitch as No. 14 Panama edged No. 22 China, 2-1.

China took a 1-0 lead in the second when Tianzhou Zhu singled and later scored on an error before Panama drew even with a run in the fourth.

Alexis Bernal Vega recorded the win going four scoreless innings allowing just two hits and walk with eight strikeouts. China reliever Lei Wang suffered the loss.

Cuba 9, Dominican Republic 0

Cuba’s Osiel Veranes struck out 10 versus Dominican Republic Saturday.

Osiel Veranes struck out 10 batters over six scoreless innings and Frank Gonzalez Cuellar drove in two runs as No. 4 Cuba defeated No. 12 Dominican Republic, 9-0.

Leading 4-0 in the fifth, Cuba put across five runs including a two-run single from Montero to go ahead 9-0 and put the game out of reach.

Dominican Republic starting pitcher Julio Torres Guzman worked two innings and took the loss.

Opening Round action continues on 12 August with USA taking on Chinese Taipei, Germany facing China and Brazil against host Panama in Group A, while Group B match-ups include Netherlands against South Africa, Dominican Republic taking on Australia and Cuba facing Japan.

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The baseball stars who ignore MLB to stay loyal to Cuba ... and Canada

Cuban players can make millions if they defect to the United States but others prefer to plot a career path that will keep them close to their families.

Most of the year, Noelvis Entenza pitches in Havana’s historic Estadio Latinoamericano, a ballpark that shakes from the 55,000-capacity crowds and where the buzz of fans’ horns drowns out the players on the field.

But when Entenza’s season ends, he gets on a plane and flies north – to Kitchener, Ontario, where he pitches in front of crowds of a few hundred in a semi-professional baseball league a world away from his life as a star in Cuba’s National Series.

“In Cuba, it’s so crazy. Here, they sit quiet, like in church,” he says, through a translator.

Entenza, a 33-year-old right-hander for the Havana Industriales, is one of four Cubans playing in Canada this summer under a unique agreement with the Cuban baseball federation. While dozens of their former teammates have defected from Cuba in pursuit of millions in Major League Baseball, they’ve chosen to stay loyal to their country.

Entenza, Miguel Lahera, Jonder Martinez and Yorbis Borroto, all veterans from Cuba’s national team, play for the Kitchener Panthers of the Intercounty Baseball League. But while they’re good enough to pursue much bigger paychecks in the US, they say there’s more at stake than just money.

“It’s a decision each person has to make. Every one is different,” said Entenza, who has watched teammates from Jose Abreu to Yasiel Puig to Lourdes Gurriel Jr flee for riches in the MLB.

These players, meanwhile, say they’re happy to be allowed to play abroad, without breaking any laws. After their season in Canada ends, they’ll return home to their families, and their respective Cuban teams.

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“Playing in the MLB is the dream, but we want to play legally,” said Borroto. “We play for our family and our country. To play for a million dollars and be away from Cuba, that’s a big change … We feel good to play in Cuba.”

Two years ago, there were great hopes things were improving. MLB and Cuba were discussing ways for Cuban players to sign with big league teams without having to defect. President Obama went to Havana to watch a game between the Tampa Bay Rays and the Cuban national team. Lahera, Martinez and Borroto all played in that game, and say they felt they were close to something historic.

“It was very emotional,” said Lahera, who has also pitched for Cuba in the Olympics and World Baseball Classic. “I was proud to know we could play with major league players.”

“We came here because it’s a new experience. We wanted to show other countries that Cuban baseball is a good quality,” said Borroto, who plays for the Ciego de Avila Tigres in Cuba. “We wanted to get experience from another country and learn a different style to play.”

By coming to Canada, the four Cubans hope they’re starting something bigger, something that could eventually lead to other Cubans playing legally in the MLB.

Cuba seeking third straight WBSC Under-15 World Cup

Cuba will seek a third successive title when the World Baseball Softball Confederation's Under-15 Baseball World Cup begins in Panama tomorrow.

Action is due to take place over 10 days at the Estadio Kenny Serracín in David and the Estadio Rico Cedeño in Chitré.

Cuba, the six-time winners overall, will play in Group B alongside Japan, the tournament's second-ranked side.

They will be joined by South Africa, Australia, The Netherlands and the Dominican Republic.

Cuba are set to open their account tomorrow against the Dutch.

Hosts Panama are in Group A along with United States, the world's top-ranked team seeking a sixth tournament win but a first since 2011.

Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Germany and China complete the group.

The players taking part will be aged between 13 and 15.

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Cuba Gets Beaten for 5th Consecutive Time

Haarlem, The Netherlands, Jul 19 (Prensa Latina) Cuba suffered its fifth defeat in this baseball week after losing 2-12 to Taipei of China, knockout in seven innings, and will bid farewell to the tournament with the worst performance in the history of the contest.

The Cuban players only hit seven hits against two Asian pitchers, including a double by first baseman Sergio Barthelemy.

The Asian team connected 13 hits, including a homer of the designated Yi-Teng, four dobles and a triple.

The victory went to reliever Chih Jung Cheng, who in six chapters allowed two runs, gave three strikeouts and no tickets to four pitchers.

For Cuba, starter Dachel Duquesne charged with the defeat by earning equal amount of runs and three hits in two thirds of an inning.

The Caribbeans already lost in the fair against the Germans 4-5, Japanese (1-7), Italians (3-7) and Dutch (4-6) and will now play fifth place tomorrow with the loser of the game between Germans and Italians.

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WBSC names SSK as Official Ball for Premier12, 2020 Olympic Baseball and Baseball World Cups

The World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) and the Osaka-based SSK Corporation today announced a partnership expansion that makes the iconic Japanese brand the Exclusive/Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of baseball’s biggest upcoming international events through 2020, including the top-tier 2019 Premier12, the 2020 Olympic Games and 2018-2020 Baseball World Cups.

The agreement expands upon WBSC and SSK’s already existing global partnership, which made SSK the exclusive Umpire Kit Supplier for the inaugural 2015 Premier12 and Baseball World Cups (U-12, U-15, U-18, U-23, and Women’s) for the 2015-2020 cycle.

As part of the newly expanded agreement, and beginning with the upcoming WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018 in Panama this August, SSK will have a major presence on the field of play of WBSC international baseball events, with the umpires kit, WBSC officials apparel and competition ball all derived from SSK’s elite product line.

In addition, the SSK logo will be featured on all outfield fences and within team dugouts, and the SSK corporate video will be shown on the scoreboard during select WBSC Premier12 and Baseball World Cup games. The innovative Japanese baseball brand will also have an in-stadium presence that includes space for setting up exhibitions. SSK will also have the right to use the WBSC, Baseball World Cup and Premier12 logos for other promotional and advertising activity.

WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari said: “Only an iconic and elite baseball brand like SSK could be trusted to fill this critical role during what will be some of the most impactful and most watched international baseball events in history. WBSC is delighted to welcome SSK as the Official Competition Ball and Kit Supplier of international baseball and expand upon our partnership that has spanned more than 20 years. With committed partners like SSK, we will continue to drive baseball into a new and golden global era.”

SSK President Kyoichi Sasaki said: “SSK’s brand motto is ‘Baseball, it’s our game’. We strive to connect the world through the sport of baseball and help them achieve a better life. SSK will be providing official competition balls to Baseball World Cups of all categories, from U-12 to professional – competitions that crown the best baseball country in the world. SSK has been supporting WBSC with umpire gear and apparels for over 20 years, and through this agreement with WBSC, we aim to contribute to baseball’s further development in the world.”

Established in 1950, SSK has evolved into one of the most elite and innovative baseball brands whose products are used by many top professional players and clubs around the world.

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BRIEF CHRONICLES: “MY SON DOES KNOW HOW TO PLAY BASEBALL”

“When he is not in front of the PC, he is playing soccer. And I love baseball much more than soccer, since I was a kid!”

There is a baseball field near my house. And kids were playing….soccer! The FIFA World Cup is being played now and it means passion!

“Everyone dreams of being Messi or Ronaldo,” my neighbor said. I do not want to thwart their dreams. However, if they check the statistics, there are no Cuban players at any top league around the world.”

  Well, perhaps these boys can change the future. Perhaps one      of them is the next Maradona —I said.

  Yes, sure —my neighbor tried to ridicule me—. We have “lots of great pitches here, lots of balls, and trainers. The future is ours.”

I shrugged my shoulders and I did not know how to answer. A lady was passing by and stopped where the teenagers were playing.

  Do you see the kid with the yellow jersey? That’s my son! When he is not in front of the PC, he is playing soccer. But if you give him a baseball bat, he does not know what to do with it. He has never learned how to play baseball.

  Have you ever tried to teach him? —my neighbor asked.

  I tried to teach him myself. I know how to play baseball. My father taught me. My team is Industriales no matter who the manager is.

  What’s your boy’s favorite team?

  Real Madrid!

  Well, perhaps he has a future in soccer —I said.

  Look, the best thing he can do is to study hard and get into college. He can be an engineer in Cuba since he will not go anywhere as a soccer player. Do you know anyone famous here?

My neighbor agreed.

Translated by Sergio A. Paneque Diaz / CubaSi Translation Staff

WBSC reveals Game Schedule for U-15 Baseball World Cup 2018 in Panama

The World Baseball Softball Confederation today unveiled the Official Game Schedule of the IV WBSC U-15 Baseball World Cup® 2018, to be staged from 10-19 August in the Panamanian cities of David and Chitre.

The world’s top tournament in the U-15 youth category and Official World Championship – which will feature the world’s best baseball players born in 2003-2005 — will be contested over 50 games and in three stages: Opening Round (group stage/round-robin), Super Round and World Championship Medal Round.

“These 50 games of the IV WBSC Baseball World Cup in Panama will determine which nation possesses the best U-15 baseball team and players on the planet,” said WBSC President Riccardo Fraccari. “This global tournament – with nations participating from all corners of the earth – also showcases our sport’s geographic footprint, connection to youth and bright future of hitting one billion players, fans and followers by the next decade.”

Through the Continental Championships/Qualifiers, the U-15 Baseball World Cup features the top nations and young players from the Americas — North, Central, South and the Caribbean – Asia, Africa, Europe and Oceania.­

Nations in Group A — host/No. 14 Panama, No. 1 United States, No. 6 Chinese Taipei, No. 19 Brazil, No. 21 Germany and No. 22 China — will begin the global competition For the Title of World Champion at the new US$ 16 million, 8,500-seat Estadio Kenny Serracín in David (Province of Chiriquí).

Nations in Group B — No. 2 Japan, No. 4 Cuba, No. 8 Australia, No. 9 Netherlands, No. 12 Dominican Republic and No. 26 South Africa — will battle at the 3,000-seat Estadio Rico Cedeño in Chitré (Province of Herrera).

Opening Round – Day 1

Game 1: South America’s Brazil and European U-15 champion Germany will meet to open the youth World Championship.
Game 2: Asia and Oceania’s U-15 continental champions — Japan and Australia — will collide.
Game 3: Wild card China will make its U-15 Baseball World Cup debut against Americas U-15 co-champion USA.
Game 4: European U-15 runner-up Netherlands will face two-time defending U-15 World Champions Cuba.
Game 5: Americas U-15 co-champion Dominican Republic will meet Africa’s top baseball nation, South Africa.
Game 6: Host Panama will open with the Asian continent’s U-15 runner-up, Chinese Taipei.
Day 3 will feature the re-match of the U-15 Baseball World Cup 2016 Final, Cuba versus Japan, which Cuba won, 9-4, to repeat as the top U-15 baseball team in the world.

Super Round

Following the 30-game Opening Round, the top three finishers from Group A will battle the top three finishers from Group B in a three-day Super Round at David’s Estadio Kenny Serracín. The 7th-12 Place Consolation Round will be staged at Estadio Rico Cedeño in Chitre.

World Championship Medal Round

The top two nations in the standings following the Super Round will play For the Title of World Champion on Sunday, 19 August, at 18:00. The 3rd/4th Place Bronze Medal Match will be staged at the same venue at 13:00.

The broadcast and live-streaming schedule will be announced in a future news release.

The previous U-15 Baseball World Cup (2016) had a total broadcast reach of over 60 million households and attracted online viewers from 192 countries and territories.

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Local youths to go on a baseball mission to Cuba this summer

Youth Futures International will partner with Boston nonprofit The Base to create “Building Bridges through Baseball,” an international program that will send a baseball team to Cuba this summer with the hope of fostering leadership and diplomacy.

Youth Futures International announced the joint partnership Tuesday, and the inaugural Building Bridges through Baseball will begin Aug. 20, when youngsters will spend 10 days in Cuba completing a variety of leadership and baseball activities. YFI founder and executive director David Butler hopes to create a lasting partnership between the two nonprofits.

“The future is about having long-term relationships,” said Butler. “Long-term is always the goal because of the impact we know can make [rather] than just doing a one-time program.

“I feel real synergy with Robert Lewis Jr. [president of The Base] as we hope we can partner more throughout the year in volunteering in different levels.”

The joint partnership was spearheaded by former Red Sox and Phillies relief pitcher Wayne Gomes, who was coached by Butler in 1982 when he was a military dependent on an Air Force base in Germany. Gomes and Butler reunited last summer with the goal of creating an international baseball program.

“Putting two organizations that are so like-minded can only benefit the kids in masses,’’ said Gomes. “Both programs have grown and I have no doubt they will continue to grow together and the effect will be changing lives in the community.”

Gomes is one of seven former major leaguers who will be coaching with the organizations this summer.

“The major league baseball players provide not only experience from [a] baseball standpoint and instruction they can’t get anywhere else, but they also provide the opportunity to share life lessons,” said Gomes. I [wanted] our coaching staff to be diverse, familiar with working with kids, and having the ability to teach the game like I know it can be taught.”

YFI has created partnerships with England and Ghana, but the partnership with Cuba poses some difficulty because of the United States’ less-than-cordial relationship with the island nation over the years.

“Through sports, our program hopes to generate a positive response with our youth coming together with youth from other nations, whether we’ve had great relations with other countries or not,” said Butler. “Students want to be a part of making a difference positively, and we have safe conduits like baseball and soccer that help create a ripple effect.

“We want them to know they can make a difference now versus just waiting for the problem to be solved.

“Each and every youth, no matter where they come from, can bring relevance, credibility, and value to our global story.”

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