2001 Baseball World Cup
From BR Bullpen
The 2001 Baseball World Cup was the 7th straight Baseball World Cup won by the Cuban national team. It took place from November 6 through November 18, 2001. It was the final international tournament for many Cuban stars who had led the team in the 1980s and 1990s, including the long-time infield quartet of 3B Omar Linares, 1B Orestes Kindelan, SS Germán Mesa and 2B Antonio Pacheco. It was also the first World Cup in which the USA used professional players, depriving them of the frequent American claim that the Cubans only won because they faced amateur competition. Cuban veteran Luis Ulacia won the MVP award. Notable major league players included Cuba's Jose Contreras, Canada's Justin Morneau and Jason Bay and Japan's Tadahito Iguchi.
 Round-Robin Results
 Pool A
- Taiwan 6-1
- USA 5-2
- Dominican Republic 5-2
- South Korea 5-2
- Nicaragua 4-3
- Italy 2-5
- South Africa 1-6
- France 0-7
 Pool B
- Japan 7-0
- Cuba 6-1
- Panama 5-2
- Netherlands 4-3
- Australia 3-4
- Canada 2-5
- Russia 1-6
- Philippines 0-7
- Cuba 3, Dominican Republic 1 - The Dominicans surprisingly took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth before Cuba rallied to win. In a pitcher's duel, Norge Vera allowed only two hits and five Dominicans, led by Ramon Morel, allowed just four.
- Chinese Taipei 2, Netherlands 0 - Chung-Nan Tsai pitched a masterpiece for 8 innings, allowing one hit to a Dutch team with two major leaguers and two other players who reached AAA. Rob Cordemans allowed only one run in 5 1/3 IP, but it was too much.
- United States 7, Panama 2 - Ken Huckaby and Chris Snopek combine to drive in five for the USA in the victory.
- Japan 3, South Korea 1 - Mayato Nakamura and Kosuke Kato combine on a 3-hit, 1-run effort against Japan's archrivals.
- South Korea 3, Dominican Republic 2 - Dong-hyon Lee hurls scoreless ball for the final five innings to give South Korea the win.
- Cuba 3, Japan 1 - Cuba avenges their round-robin loss to Japan (their first loss in the World Cup in 13 years). Hirokazu Ibata is driven in by a Tadahito Iguchi single through a drawn-in infield in the first but Japan can get nothing more against Jose Contreras and Pedro Luis Lazo. Both Contreras and Shugo Fujii work 10 2/3 innings of the 11-inning affair. Contreras fans 11. Linares and Yobal Duenas pick up key hits in the 11th. Contreras improves his record in international competition to 13-0.
- Panama 5, Netherlands 0 - RF Earl Agnoly drives in two and SS Orlando Miller scores two while Alvaro Hernandez allows just four baserunners, shutting down the 2-7 batters in the Netherlands batting order.
- United States 4, Chinese Taipei 1 - Jason Stanford and three relievers keep up the fine pitching trends. Joe Borchard's 2-run homer in the fifth decides the contest.
- Cuba 5, United States 3 - In the Gold Medal match-up, Jason Phillips walks three and allows four hits and two runs in 2 2/3 IP, but the US rallies to tie it in the fourth against Jose Ibar. In the 8th, it is still tied at two when Tom Shearn allows three Cuban runs. Vicyhandri Odelin gets the win and Pedro Luis Lazo the save. Ken Huckaby, Orlando Hudson, Orestes Kindelan, Ulacia and German Mesa each pick up two hits. Mesa, known more for his defense, drives in two key runs in the 8th.
- Chinese Taipei 3, Japan 0 - Taiwanese ace Chih-Chia Chang blanks the Japanese on five hits in a display that will draw him lots of contract offers from MLB and NPB teams. Future big leaguer Chin-Feng Chen cracks two homers and drives in all three runs in the win to pick up the bronze medal.
- Panama 3, South Korea 2 - A 2-run homer by #8 hitter and RF Freddy Herrera in the fifth gives Panama a 2-1 lead which they will not relinquish. Miguel Gomez gets the win.
- Netherlands 7, Dominican Republic 3 - RF Dirk van 't Klooster reaches base four times and a 3-run homer by DH Hensley Meulens puts this one out of reach. The Dominicans outhit the Dutch, 10-8, but walk 9 batters.
 Team Summaries
- Australia had a decent 3-4 record. DH Adam Burton (.462/.529/.615, 2 SB) led the offense as the team was outscored 32-24. Major leaguers included Ryan Rowland-Smith, Chris Oxspring and John Stephens. Australia led the tourney with 18 steals, led by 5 from SS Trent Durrington.
- Canada outscored opponents 21-18 but went just 2-5 thanks to three one-run losses - to Panama, Cuba and Australia, the latter two by 1-0 scores against Jose Contreras and John Stephens respectively. It was more notable due to the number of (now) well-known hitters on Team Canada. Jason Bay (.143), Aaron Guiel (.167) and Justin Morneau (0 for 8) all were flailing away. The offensive leader wound up being a Team Canada veteran, CF Jeremy Ware (.333/.400/.556). The staff ERA was a strong 2.07, fifth in the Cup. Brett Gray allowed no earned runs in 13 IP yet still went 0-1 thanks to an unearned run in the loss to Contreras and Cuba. SS Kevin Nicholson hit just .154/.185/.192 but was voted as the Best Defensive Player in the Cup.
- Cuba overcame the 5-3 loss to Japan in the round-robin to win yet another Gold medal. They also beat Canada 1-0 but otherwise cruised through the pool competition. In the playoffs, they were less dominant with three straight 2-run victories, but it was enough. MVP CF Luis Ulacia hit .512/.511/.558 with 10 runs and six stolen bases, leading the tourney in average. All-Star 2B Antonio Pacheco batted .353/.400/.559 with 9 RBI. The other long-time veterans in their final games for the national team were All-Star 1B Orestes Kindelan (.364/.432/.455), 3B Omar Linares (.320/.346/.560) and SS Germán Mesa (.211/.375/.263). The team hit .318, the best in the Cup. All-Star Jose Contreras (2-0, 0.00, one unearned run in 21 2/3 IP, 4 BB, 22 K) led the tourney in ERA and was third in strikeouts. Ciro Licea (1-0, 0.00), Norge Vera (2-0, 7 H in 19 IP, 16 K, 0.47), Vicyhandri Odelin (1-0, 0.79, 16 K in 11 1/3 IP) and Pedro Luis Lazo (2-0, 2 Sv, 1.08, 14 K, 3 H in 8 1/3 IP) led a fine staff that finished 3rd with a 1.52 ERA. Jose Ibar (0-1, 6.75) took Cuba's first Cup loss since 1986 (about 50 games) in the defeat to Japan and did not last long in the Gold Medal game.
- The Dominican Republic finished 8th thanks to a 0-3 record in the playoffs. 1B Rafael Martinez (.323/.476/.323, 8 R) got on base well while C Yohanny Valera (.237/.256/.474, 11 RBI) was second in the tourney in RBI. Three pitchers did not allow an earned run - Ramon Morel (1-0, 9 IP), Jose Colon (1-0, 2 H in 9 1/3 IP) and Santiago Ramirez (3 Sv, 6 1/3 IP). Ramirez led the Cup tourney in saves.
- France only scored 7 runs in the 7 games, while allowing 58. They had more than twice as many errors (17) as runs. It explains a 0-7 record. They only lost by 1 to Russia (4-3) and 3-1 to the Dominicans, but fell 17-0 to Team USA. Samuel Meurant (0-1) did not allow an earned run in over 15 innings of work.
- Italy finished sixth in their eight-team group (2-5). The leaders offensively were C/1B/DH Christopher Madonna (.286/.348/.429) and OF Claudio Liverziani (.318/.444/.364).
- Japan was a major disappointment. After being the only unbeaten team in the round-robin and handing Cuba its first Cup loss in 15 years, they lost their rematch to Cuba in extra innings then fell in the Bronze Medal game to finish 4th and medal-less. They led the tourney with 72 runs and were 4th in ERA (1.57). SS Hirokazu Ibata (.438/.561/.531, 11 R, 8 SB in 8 tries) tied for the lead in steals and was third in average. 1B Ikuro Katsuragi hit .367/.459/.667 and RF Yoshinobu Takahashi .353/.476/.529 with 10 runs (and led the round-robin in that department). Ibata, Takahashi and 3B Akihiro Higashide (.324/.432/.405, 10 R, 10 RBI) all made the All-Star team, tying them for the most All-Stars. 2B Tadahito Iguchi tied Higashide and Evert-Jan 't Hoen of the Netherlands for third with 10 RBI but only hit .214/.353/.357. Kosuke Kato (1-0, 1.04) was responsible for the win over Cuba while Yoshiteru Suda (1-1, 0.75) had one of the best ERAs. Shugo Fujii (1-1, 0.96) whiffed 22.
- South Korea finished sixth, with a surprising weak 2-0 win over Russia perhaps the most out-of-the-ordinary event. They were fifth with 49 runs and allowed 26 with a 2.14 ERA, but were easily beaten by the US and Taiwan and lost close games to Japan and Panama. DH Hae-young Ma (.265/.342/.412) led the round-robin with five doubles, but was easily outhit by RF Soo-keun Jung (.440/.481/.440), 2B Joo-chan Kim (.379/.419/.517) and LF/CF Byung-kyu Lee (.395/.400/.474). Dong-hyon Lee (1-0) allowed no runs in six innings.
- Netherlands just managed a 7th-place finish. They could easily have fared better, with one-run losses to Japan and Panama in the round-robin; they came the closest to beating 7-0 Japan in that phase. They then lost a close one to Taiwan in the first playoff game, dropping them into the loser's bracket. They were 4th in runs (52), with an offense led by OF Harvey Monte (.316/.500/.632), SS Ralph Milliard (.364/.488/.424, 7 R, tied for the lead with 8 steals), LF Hensley Meulens (.258/.410/.484, 7 R, 2 HR), 3B/SS Raily Legito (.467/.500/.533) and 2B Evert-Jan 't Hoen (.250/.317/.556, 3 HR, 10 RBI, tied for second in homers and tied for third in RBI). Rob Cordemans (1-1, 0.75) was their ace pitcher.
- Nicaragua hit .310, third-best behind Cuba and the USA but poor pitching against the Dominicans (12 runs) and South Korea (8) helped cost them a spot in the playoffs as they finished 5th in their pool. The top hitter was DH Jenrry Roa (.462/.500/.538), a long-time presence on the national team who finished second in the Cup in average this year. Cairo Murillo (2-0, 0.75) was their most effective moundsman.
- Panama had a respectable fifth-place overall finish, led at the plate by RF Freddy Herrera (.387/.441/.710, 7 2B) and C Julio Mosquera (.333/.371/.636, 3 HR). The run differential was just 38-35.
- Philippines played in its first World Cup and it showed as were shut out in six of seven games and only showed pop against Russia in a close 7-6 game. They allowed four runs to Panama and at least 6 in every other game, topped by 21 against Japan. They hit .153/.183/.158, were outhit 99-29, outscored 75-6, fielded .901 and had an ERA of 9.34. They did not return in 2003 or 2005.
- Russia did better than the Philippines at least, only getting shut out twice and being outscored 66-13. They hit .194/.275/.250, fielded .930 and had a 7.62 ERA, all clearly better marks. The top hitter was easily 2B Alexander Nizov at .346/.393/.615.
- South Africa, like Russia, was probably glad that a weaker team was in their division (France). They got some production from SS Paul Bell (.308/.321/.538), Glen Morris (0.84 ERA) and Braydon Bartle (no runs in 5 IP, 1-0). They were outscored 57-13.
- Chinese Taipei won all their games that did not involve the USA, losing them in both the round-robin and semifinals, to claim the Bronze Medal. Taiwan was led by their pitching, allowing less than two runs in every game not against Team USA. Their ERA was 0.93, the best in the tournament. The home team also led with 10 homers. DH Chuan-Chia Wang (.364/.440/.636) and LF Chin-Feng Chen (.429/.488/1.029, 9 R, 6 2B, 4 HR, 14 RBI) were All-Stars and 3B Tai-Shan Chang batted .364/.459/.606 to form a strong offensive trio. Chen led the tourney in RBI and homers and was fourth in average. Five pitchers had a 0.00 ERA, but the ace was clearly Chih-Chia Chang (4-0, 0.36, 26 K in 25 1/3 IP), who led the tournament in wins and strikeouts.
- United States also got fine pitching, with five shutouts in their seven round-robin games, allowing runs only to Nicaragua (3) and the Dominican Republic (6). They were less dominant in the playoffs, but still allowed only 8 runs in 3 games then. They tied Cuba for second in runs (66) while their 1.34 ERA was second to Taiwan. Good hitting came from All-Star OF Mark Budzinski (.371/.405/.514), SS Matt Erickson (.455/.478/.591), All-Star C Ken Huckaby (.429/.474/.486), 2B Orlando Hudson (.429/.467/.571, 12 R, 7 SB) and 3B Chris Snopek (.364/.417/.545, 9 R). Five relievers did not allow runs while the top starters were All-Star Jason Stanford (2-0, 0.75) and Jason Phillips (2-0, 0.66). It was the only Team USA medal in a Cup between 1989 and 2006.
MVP: Luis Ulacia, Cuba OF
Best Defense: Kevin Nicholson, Canada SS
 All-Star Team
- C: Ken Huckaby, USA (.429/.474/.486)
- 1B: Orestes Kindelan, Cuba (.364/.432/.455)
- 2B: Antonio Pacheco, Cuba (.353/.400/.559)
- SS: Hirokazu Ibata, Japan (.438/.561/.531, 11 R, 8 SB)
- 3B: Akihiro Higashide, Japan (.324/.432/.405, 10 R, 10 RBI)
- OF: Yoshinobu Takahashi, Japan (.353/.476/.529, 10 R)
- OF: Mark Budzinski, USA (.371/.405/.514)
- OF: Chin-Feng Chen, Taiwan (.429/.488/1.029, 14 RBI, 4 HR)
- DH: Chuan-Chia Wang, Taiwan (.364/.440/.636)
- P: Jose Contreras, Cuba (2-0, 0.00 ERA, 22 K in 21 2/3 IP)
- P: Jason Stanford, USA (2-0, 0.75)