1998 Baseball World Cup
The 1998 Baseball World Cup was one in which things remained the status quo - and called for change. Held in Italy from July 21 through August 2, 1998, the Cup was the sixth straight Baseball World Cup won by the Cuban national team. The South Korean national team captured their second straight Silver Medal while the Nicaraguan national team got their second medal in a three-tournament period. As Cuba won with a veteran team led by 1980s international standouts like Omar Linares, Orestes Kindelan and Antonio Pacheco, there were calls from many quarters in the USA to bring professional players. This was the first year professional players were allowed but only a few of the teams used pros. While the change would be made, Cuba would continue to win the next three Cups (through 2006) competing against many pros.
- Cuba 7-0, 67 runs, 18 allowed
- Japan 6-1, 33, 14
- Dominican Republic 5-2, 39, 23
- Italy 3-4, 26, 33
- Panama 3-4, 34, 32
- China 2-5, 15, 28
- Spain 2-5, 34, 37
- South Africa 0-7, 12, 75
- Australia 5-2, 48, 33
- Nicaragua 5-2, 69, 37
- South Korea 4-3, 35, 34
- Netherlands 4-3, 45, 34
- USA 4-3, 38, 28
- Canada 3-4, 27, 32
- Taiwan 3-4, 36, 38
- Russia 0-7, 12, 74
- Cuba 12, Netherlands 1 - Jose Ibar allows one run in seven while Omar Linares produces five runs.
- South Korea 8, Japan 5 - Japan jumps to a 5-0 lead against their archrivals before Koji Uehara tires in the 9th, which he entered with a 5-1 edge. Hee-seop Choi triples, homers, scores two and drives in two as the South Koreans bludgeon the fading Uehara and four relievers for 7 runs in the 9th and 10th to win.
- Italy 9, Australia 8 - 1B Alessandro Flisi homers twice, scores three and drives in four to give the home team an extra-inning win in a game in which Australia had rallied to tie three times only to fall short.
- Nicaragua 12, Dominican Republic 4 - The Nicaraguan offense continues to be the tourney's best. Edgard Lopez, Jenrry Roa and Norman Cardoze each bang out three hits.
- Cuba 14, Nicaragua 2 - Nicaragua's offense finally goes silent as no one can get more than one hit off of Pedro Lazo, who works all 7 innings as the 10-run rule applies. Cuban cleanup hitter Orestes Kindelan homers twice and drives in five.
- South Korea 8, Italy 2 - In the other matchup of quarterfinal champs, the South Koreans rely on a balanced attack to top the home team.
- Netherlands 7, Dominican Republic 3 - Pedro Ruiz is knocked out in the third inning by a Dutch onslaught. RF Dirk van 't Klooster drives in 3 while CF Rikkert Faneyte falls a triple shy of a cycle.
- Japan 11, Australia 6 - Despite a triple, homer and single from Andrew Scott, the Australians fall short. The Japanese bullpen recovers from the quarterfinals to hold on this time. SS Tomohiro Nioka scored 3 and drove in 3 while Takaaki Sato goes 4 for 4.
- Cuba 7, South Korea 1 - Cuba showed why it is the World Cup powerhouse, trashing Byung-hyun Kim for 4 runs in five innings as 10 of 24 batters reach successfully. Another South Korean future major leaguer, DH Hee-seop Choi, strikes out twice in going 0-for-3. Jose Contreras fans 13 in a complete game, walking none (though he hit two batters) and allowing five hits in a dominant win. The lone Korean score is a solo homer by 2B Myung-chul Shin. 2B Antonio Pacheco goes 4 for 4 with two doubles, is hit by a pitch and scores twice. The big duo of Kindelan and Linares only goes 1 for 6, but it doesn't matter due to the team's depth; Kindelan does draw three walks and score two.
- Nicaragua 5, Italy 1 - Trying for their first medal ever, the home team has it tied at one until the 8th when starter Diego Ricci tires and 1B Alessandro Flisi makes a key error, allowing four unearned runs that frame. DH Jenrry Roa (3 for 5) leads the offense while Marvin Zelaya leaves in the 8th after a fine day on the hill to give the Nicaraguans the medal; Vicente Padilla retired the final five batters, three by strikeout. The Italians came close but missed out.
- Japan 9, Netherlands 3 - Shinji Udaka scatters 11 hits and Japan puts it away earlier as they chase Patrick Beljaards with 7 runs in under 3 innings. CF Yusuke Nishizawa goes 4 for 5 with a steal, a run and 7 putouts.
- Australia 9, Dominican Republic 2 - Veteran pitcher David White throws a strong complete game while DH Adam Burton scores 3 and CF Grant McDonald drives in four in the 7th-place game.
- C - Juan Manrique, Cuba
- 1B - Loidel Chapelli, Cuba
- 2B - Antonio Pacheco, Cuba
- SS - Edgard Lopez, Nicaragua
- 3B - Omar Linares, Cuba
- OF - Oscar Machado, Cuba; Chin-Yuan Chen, Taiwan & Robelquis Videaux, Cuba
- DH - Orestes Kindelan, Cuba
- P - Yosvani Aragon, Cuba & Jurriaan Lobbezoo, Netherlands
- Australia disappointed after tying for the best record in their pool in pool play, falling to 3-4 Italy in the quarterfinals and finishing 7th of 16. Utility man Andrew Scott (.439/.467/.707) and 2B/DH Adam Burton (.407/.529/.667, 4 SB in 4 tries) led a productive offense. LHP Cam Cairncross (1-0, 0.82) was their most effective pitcher.
- Canada finished 11th at 3-4 but did defeat Silver Medalist South Korea, 4-1. Veteran Canadian team member 2B Warren Sawkiw hit .393/.433/.536 and CF Joseph Colameco batted .375/.394/.625. Brett Kondro (1-0, 1.00) worked a complete game in the win against South Korea and was their top hurler as a result.
- People's Republic of China was 2-5 and finished 12th. A 583 team OPS was to blame as they barely averaged over 2 runs per game. Zhanpeng Wang (2-0, 1.04, 27 K and 1 BB in 17 1/3 IP) was the clear star of the team. He fanned 18 in a game against Spain, the best single game mark in the tourney.
- Cuba was their usual dominant self, outscoring opponents 117-14. They beat Panama, 8-5, but every other win was by at least 7 runs. Almost every starter made the All-Star team for the tourney - C Juan Manrique (.500/.552/.962, 9 R, 9 RBI), 1B Loidel Chapelli (.417/.512/.806, 14 R, 11 RBI), 2B Antonio Pacheco (.486/.487/.886, 11 R, 17 RBI, 1.000 fielding percentage), 3B Omar Linares (.469/.575/.813, 13 R, 9 RBI), DH Orestes Kindelan (.529/.561/1.088, 12 R, 18 RBI, 5 HR), LF Oscar Machado (.412/.500/.882, 12 R, 14 RBI, 4 HR) and RF Robelquis Videaux (.452/.500/.786, 20 R). One of the two starters who did not was SS Danel Castro, who hit .438/.514/.844 with 12 RBI. It was the second time Kindelan had led a World Cup in average; he also led in RBI and homers. The staff had a 1.48 ERA with standouts including Yosvani Aragon (2-0, 1.13), All-Star Jose Contreras (2-0, 0.53, 28 K in 17 IP to lead the tourney in whiffs and tie for the wind lead. He was 4th in ERA), Jose Ibar (2-0, 1.80) and Pedro Lazo (2-0, 1.38).
- Dominican Republic was 5-2 in the pool play, but then 0-3 in the playoffs to fall to 8th. C Victor Rosario (.476/.476/.857) led the offense.
- Italy recovered from a 20-0 pounding by Cuba in the round-robins to advance to the Bronze Medal game, where they finally fell in a competitive contest. Italy had never won a Bronze in World Cup history, so it would have been their first. The home team was plagued by pitching woes - they had a 6.80 ERA as a staff, with Diego Ricci (2-1, 0.52) the one bright spot. 2B Alberto D'Auria hit .378/.425/.514 with 7 runs and 8 RBI but the top star was clearly 1B Alessandro Flisi, who smacked five homers to tie Kindelan for the lead. Flisi hit .348/.400/1.000 with 9 RBI.
- Japan had a disappointing fifth-place finish after the second-best record in round-robin play, losing only to Cuba. In the playoffs, they fell to South Korea in the crucial first game, dropping them into the loser's bracket, where they won both times. Koji Uehara (2-0, 2.13, 33 K in 25 1/3 IP) was the staff ace, though Eiji Yano (2-0, 2.25) clearly was close. The offensive stars were SS Tomohiro Nioka (.353/.452/.618, 12 R, 7 RBI, 4 SB), CF Yusuke Nishizawa (.417/.533/.556, 4 SB, 14 R), 3B-1B Takaaki Sato (.423/.433/.731) and 2B-3B Kanichi Matoba (.381/.462/.667, 3 SB).
- Netherlands finished sixth, an unusual second place finish among European entries. CF Rikkert Faneyte (.341/.391/.610, 10 R, 11 RBI) and 1B-RF-DH Dirk van 't Klooster (.421/.442/.526, 11 RBI) led the offense. Jurriaan Lobbezoo (2-0, 2.11) led a weak staff that had a 7.09 ERA, with three pitchers over 10. He was one of three non-Cubans on the All-Star team for the tournament.
- Nicaragua had a team OPS of 918 in averaging 8.8 runs per game to power them to a Bronze Medal. A balanced attack featured numerous stars, but the clear bright light was All-Star SS Edgard Lopez (.462/.500/.786, 12 R). Vicente Padilla allowed no earned runs in 8 IP and was the only pitcher in the tournament to register two saves. Marvin Zelaya (2-1, 2.29) was the most effective starter.
- Panama finished 10th of 16 teams. LF-1B Earl Agnoly (.448/.484/.759) and 1B-DH Manuel Rodriguez (.458/.500/.708) guided the offense. The staff featured no starring performances. The only pitcher to top .500 had an ERA over 5.
- Russia was outscored 75-12, so there were few positives. The work of Andrei Bogatyrev (0-2, 3.46) on the mound and twin brother Alexandre Bogatrev at the plate (4 for 5 with a triple and steal) led the team.
- South Africa was nearly as bad as Russia, also scoring 12 and winning no games, but their pitching was better, allowing 55 runs, to finish 15th of 16. Glen Morris (0-3) had a deceptive 0.56 ERA as he allowed 16 runs - and only one was earned as South Africa averaged over two errors per game.
- South Korea captured Bronze again despite losses to 3-4 Taiwan and Canada as well as Australia in the round-robin. OF Han-yi Park (.415/.455/.659, 10 R) and DH Hee-seop Choi (.346/.469/.808, 3 HR) were the top hitters. Chul-min Kang (1-0, 1 Sv, 2.70) was their best hurler. The most famous in retrospect would be Byung-hyun Kim (0-3, 1 Sv, 5.64).
- Spain beat Russia and also got an upset over Italy to finish 14th. A staff ERA of 8.47 was to blame for their struggles. 3B Jose Arza hit .348/.423/.739 with 6 RBI in 6 games to lead the offense.
- Chinese Taipei finished 13th but was competitive, being outscored only 36-35 and beating both the Bronze Medalists (South Korea) and Silver Medalists (Nicaragua) in the round-robin. DH Chin-Feng Chen (.379/.400/1.069, 12 RBI, 8 R) tied for the tourney lead with 5 homers while OF Chih-Yuan Chen (.481/.533/.778, 8 R, 7 RBI) made the All-Star team and was the only non-Cuban in the top five in batting average. The rest of the offense and the entire pitching staff revealed no other starring players, though, rendering the Chens as two-man show.
- The United States finished 9th, best of the teams not to make the playoffs. The youngest team with an average age of 19 years and 9 months, they beat Australia, the top team in their pool, but lost to Nicaragua, the other 5-2 team in pool play. They also dropped 3-1 games to both South Korea and the Netherlands (against Rob Cordemans), both made possible by two-run errors by 3B Brant Ust. RF Ryan Ludwick (.407/.414/.852, 8 R, 8 RBI) and OF Willie Bloomquist (.389/.421/.778) led the offense. On the mound, Ryan Mottl (1-0, 0 R in 8 IP) and Jonathan McDonald (1-0, 0 R in 6 2/3 IP) led the tourney in ERA. Not as effective were Eric Munson (.130) and Brad Cresse (.111). The staff had a 2.95 ERA overall.
Main source: IBAF website