Cuba Wins Its 22nd World Title
ROME (AP) _ The Cuban national team claimed its 22nd gold medal at the World Baseball Championships on Sunday, beating South Korea 7-1 and extending its winning streak at the event to 41 games since 1986.
The final was a virtual repeat of the 1994 Worlds in Nicaragua, which Cuba won. Cuba won its sixth consecutive title Sunday.
The game’s first run came in the fourth inning when Cuban outfielder Oscar Machado, 31, scored on a double by Antonio Pacheco.
Infielders Orestes Kindelan, Pacheco, and Omar Linares _ Cuba’s leading player, nicknamed ``El Nino″ _ each scored in the sixth inning to help Cuba pull ahead.
Also in the sixth, South Korea’s 19-year-old infielder, Myung-Chul Shin, hit the game’s only home run.
Starting pitcher Jose Contreras went the distance for Cuba, tossing a five-hitter and striking out 13.
``The players’ extraordinary efforts and their drive to win paid off again,″ said Jorge Lusson, an official from Cuba’s minister of sports.
Cuba dominated the tournament from the start, rolling over Nicaragua (14-2) in the semifinals, and the Netherlands (12-1) in the quarterfinals.
The United States and Canada were eliminated in the preliminary round.
Cuba has taken home the gold at every world championship it has played since 1952, a total of 22 titles from 25 tournaments.
This tournament was open to professionals for the first time, but no Major League Baseball players participated.
The South Koreans advanced to the final after an 8-2 victory over Italy, which had never previously reached the World semifinals.
South Korea has played in nine World Championships and won only once, in 1982.
In consolation games, Nicaragua beat Italy 5-1 to finish third, Japan beat the Netherlands 9-3 for fifth, and Australia took seventh with a 9-2 victory over the Dominican Republic.