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2003 Baseball World Cup
The 2003 Baseball World Cup was the 35th Baseball World Cup. It was held in Cuba from October 12 through October 25 and was won by the Cuban national team, their 8th straight title. Several countries sent their "B" teams (the USA probably sent their "E" team) as Cuba faced less competition than other years. Panama used numerous major leaguers and won Silver. The MVP was Takashi Yoshiura of Japan.
- Japan 7-0
- United States 5-1
- Panama 5-2
- Brazil 4-3
- Netherlands 3-3
- Mexico 2-5
- People's Republic of China 1-6
- France 0-7
- Panama 5, Nicaragua 0. Panama relies on a balanced offense and an excellent outing from veteran Len Picota. Picota throws a 3-hit shutout for the victory.
- Chinese Taipei 2, United States 1. Chih-Sheng Lin hits the winning homer against Conor Brooks, while Chang-Wei Tu holds the US to one run in 7 2/3 innings. En-Yu Lin wraps it up for the save.
- Japan 2, South Korea 0. Takahiko Nomaguchi and Itsuro Tanimura team up on a four-hit shutout. LF Naotaka Takehara goes 3 for 4 with a homer and two RBI to lead Japan's offense in the match-up of long-time rivals.
- Cuba 4, Brazil 3. Brazil almost pulls off a stunning upset as Kleber Tomita carries a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 9th but 2B Yulieski Gourriel hit a long triple to the opposite field and 1B Kendry Morales follows with a game-winning two-run homer into the right-field grandstand as the home team dramatically rallies. Pedro Luis Lazo gets the win.
- Nicaragua 5, South Korea 3. 2B Jimy Gonzalez doubles twice and homers to lead Nicaragua to the victory.
- Panama 4, Japan 1. Rafael Medina throws 7 scoreless innings and Rolando Herrera pitches the final two as Panama advances to the Gold Medal game for the first time ever. CF Ruben Rivera drives in three.
- United States 13, Brazil 4. Brazil fails to make it two close games in a row as they are forced to use five hurlers. 2B Brent Sachs (3 for 4, 3 R) and RF Bryan Warner (4 for 5, 2 2B, HR, 3 R) pace the US.
- Cuba 6, Chinese Taipei 3. Gourriel (2 for 3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) and Morales (3-run homer) again lead Cuba to the win. Norge Vera (0 R in 7 IP) got the decision for the hosts.
- Cuba 4, Panama 2. DH Audes de Leon and 3B Luis Iglesias hit solo homers against Vicyohandri Odelin but Vera comes out of the bullpen to toss 5 1/3 shutout innings of one-hit ball. LF Frederich Cepeda hits two home runs and doubles to provide the offense. Picota takes the loss, allowing two runs in five.
- Japan 7, Chinese Taipei 3. Tanimura pitches 3 2/3 scoreless relief innings for the win and a balanced offense gives Japan the Bronze.
- United States 13, Nicaragua 2. Jonathan Garcia throws 7 strong innings for the US, striking out 8, to help them win the 5th-place game. Henry Berrios goes 4 for 5 with a homer, 3 runs and 3 RBI to lead the attack.
- Brazil 8, South Korea 3. Brazil continues their impressive tournament with a win. Cláudio Yamada throws 8 scoreless innings, allowing only four hits. 2B Reinaldo Sato collects three hits as a balance offense provides all of Brazil's runs in the second inning.
- Brazil was outscored 54-42 but had to take pride in making the top eight teams, in almost beating the champion Cubans and in topping perennial contender South Korea. CF Tiago Magalhaes (.200/.273/.500) hit 4 homers and scored 8 runs in their 10 games. 2B Reinaldo Sato (.324/.392/.622) was their best overall offensive player. Cláudio Yamada (2-1, 1.29, 19 K) and Kleber Tomita (2-1, 2.19, 16 K) were an impressive 1-2 pitching combination and both turned in excellent games in the final round. Tomita made the All-Star team.
- Canada was managed by Gary Picone and just missed the final eight cut with a 3-3 record. They were outscored 40-26. Jordy Alexander (1-1, 2.38) was their top hurler while LF Rob Butler (.348/.444/.565) was the best hitter.
- People's Republic of China was 1-6, far worse than they had done in the 1998 Baseball World Cup. They were outscored by the huge margin of 63-14. Li Zhang (0-2, 2.41) was their only pitcher with an ERA under 6. The team batting line was .164/.194/.237 and the only good hitter was SS Weifeng Qu (.286/.348/.714, 3 HR, 5 RBI).
- Cuba had a surprisingly tough time to the Gold under Higinio Veles's guidance. After an easy round-robin, they had a few close shaves in the final round. They still were 9-0 and had a 66-13 run differential. Numerous hitters performed well - All-Star LF Frederich Cepeda (.406/.444/.906, 4 HR, 9 RBI), All-Star 3B Michel Enriquez (.424/.447/.515, 11 R, 10 RBI), 2B Yulieski Gourriel (.368/.400/.789, 5 2B, 3 HR, 9 R, 13 RBI), 1B Kendry Morales (.265/.306/.588, 3 HR, 11 RBI), All-Star SS Eduardo Paret (.333/.487/.567, 11 R, 7 SB), CF Carlos Tabares (.478/.478/.696) and RF Osmani Urrutia (.304/.385/.652, 8 RBI). Adiel Palma (1-0, 0.00), Norge Vera (3-0, 1.19), Osmaris Romero (1-0, 1.04), Jonder Martinez (2-0, 1.29) and Pedro Luis Lazo (1-0, 1 Sv, 1.13) all pitched well for Cuba. It was Cuba's first World Cup since the mid-80s without Omar Linares, Orestes Kindelan, Antonio Pacheco and German Mesa, long-time stars, but the young guns like Enriquez, Morales, Gourriel and Cepeda picked up the slack. The team was second in average (.322), third in home runs (15), 4th in runs, 1st in steals (11) and first in ERA (1.48).
- France was 0-7 and was outscored 91-13. No pitcher had an ERA under 5.79, with five of ten pitchers in double digits. RF Jamel Boutagra was 8 for 16 with four walks, four RBI, two doubles and a homer as their top hitter.
- Italy only beat Russia but came close against Nicaragua (6-5), Taiwan (5-4), South Korea (4-2) and Canada (5-3) with only Cuba routing them (7-0). Giampiero Faraone managed the team. They were outscored just 28-23. The leading offensive force was RF Mario Chiarini (.500/.563/.643). Michael Marchesano (1-1, 0.71) and Kasey Olenberger (0 R in 7 IP) were the best pitchers. They finished 5th in the Cup in ERA (3.78).
- Japan won their 4th Bronze Medal in Cup history and went 9-1 with a 84-23 run margin. SS Yuki Ito (.400/.516/.760, 10 R), All-Star 2B Daisuke Kusano (.289/.333/.526, 9 R, 11 RBI), 1B Yasuyuki Saigo (.379/.514/.517), 3B Akihide Shimizu (.387/.441/.548, 11 R) and backup Yohsuke Shinomiya (.500/.625/.700) formed a fine infield. Also hitting well were DH-LF Naotaka Takehara (.333/.405/.750, 4 HR, 9 R, 12 RBI), RF Hiroshi Yoshida (.391/.548/.609, 9 R) and MVP/RF-LF Takashi Yoshiura (.387/.513/.871, 5 HR, 17 RBI). Takahiko Nomaguchi (2-0, 0.50, 16 K in 18 IP) and Itsuro Tanimura (2-0, Sv, 0 R, 3 H in 9 2/3 IP) led the pitchers. They led in average (.326), were second in homers (16), led in runs, were tied for second in steals (9) and second in ERA (2.04).
- Mexico was 2-5 despite outscoring the opposition, 35-30. The top performers were SS Jorge Cantú (.333/.406/.630), 3B Luis Cruz (.400/.464/.760) and P Jose Avalos (1-0, 0 R in 8 IP). Their .295 team average ranked 5th.
- Netherlands finished 3-3 under manager Robert Eenhoorn, with one rainout. They had two tough losses - 2-1 to Brazil and 4-2 to Nicaragua. Three hitters put up excellent numbers as the team slugged .531 - CF Eugene Kingsale (.381/.480/.810, 7 R), 3B Ivanon Coffie (.409/.500/.818, 6 R) and All-Star 1B Sharnol Adriana (.391/.407/1.043, 4 HR, 3 2B, 6 R, 10 RBI). Patrick De Lange (1-1, 2.00) was their top pitcher. Adriana was the only All-Star from a team that did not make the final eight. The team tied for 5th with 11 home runs.
- Nicaragua finished sixth at 5-4. Mario Pena (2-0, 0 R in 10 2/3 IP) was clearly the top pitcher on the club, while the offense was provided by CF Justo Rivas (.364/.417/.697, 3 HR), 3B-DH Norman Cardoze (.324/.395/.588, 7 R, 7 RBI) and 2B Jimy Gonzalez (.355/.382/.581).
- Panama got their first Silver Medal in Cup history under the guidance of manager Omar Moreno. The team hit .310/.379/.507 and scored 78 runs in 10 games. The pitching was the weaker area, with a 4.02 staff ERA. They only allowed three unearned runs. Leading the offense were All-Star DH Audes de Leon (.356/.370/.756, 5 HR, 10 R, 16 RBI), All-Star CF Rubén Rivera (.324/.422/.595, 9 RBI), 1B Olmedo Saenz (.410/.462/.487), 3B Luis Iglesias (.361/.439/.556) and RF Omar Moreno Jr. (.294/.500/.324, 12 BB, 12 R). Rafael Medina (3-0, 2.00, 18 K in 18 IP) and Len Picota (3-1, 2.08) clearly led the somewhat shaky staff. The team finished third in average (.310), led in home runs (18) and was second in runs.
- Russia was outscored 80-12 but avoided last place with a stunning 4-1 win over Taiwan, which almost got a Medal. Alexey Valyalin (1-2, 3.46) had the only ERA under 8 on the staff. SS Dmitry Lukin (.313/.353/.438) was their top hitter.
- South Korea finished a disappointing 8th with a 3-6 medal, losing to even Brazil. C Ki-moon Choi (.276/.300/.483) threw out six of eight would-be base-stealers and drove in nine runs to make the All-Star team. 1B Tae-kyun Kim (.353/.450/.647, 10 R) and SS Ji-hwan Son (.333/.400/.528) were the top two hitters on the team. Sang-woo Lee (1-0) did not allow a run in 5 2/3 IP. They were fifth in runs (57).
- Chinese Taipei finished 4th, just missing Bronze, despite scoring only as many runs as their opponents (37). RF Chih-Yao Chan (.303/.378/.515), LF-CF Hsien-Ming Yu (.300/.364/.700) and LF Hung-Yuan Lin (.200/.400/.600) led the offense. Less impressive were future major leaguer Chin-Lung Hu (0 for 10) and future AAA player Yung-Chi Chen (.161/.212/.387). Che-Yi Su (1-0, 1.88) and Chang-Wei Tu (1-0, 1.74) were their top pitchers. Taiwan finished 4th in ERA (3.23).
- United States was a surprising 5th considering they sent a team of independent league stars instead of prospects. They had a 69-19 edge in runs. Jonathan Cannon (2-0, 1.50) was their only All-Star; other good pitchers were Conor Brooks (1-2, 0.93) and Hank Woodman (1-0, 0.82). Leading the offense were DH Henry Berrios (.333/.400/.639, 9 RBI), 3B Joshua Patton (.375/.452/.667, 9 RBI), 2B-LF Brent Sachs (.478/.536/.609, 8 R), 2B Bryan Ward (.423/.444/.654, 8 R) and RF Bryan Warner (.353/.353/.706, 11 RBI). The US was 4th in average (.309), 4th in home runs (14), third in runs (69), tied for second in steals (9) and third in ERA (2.08).
MVP: Takashi Yoshiura, Japan OF
Best Defense: Eduardo Paret, Cuba SS
- C: Ki-moon Choi, South Korea (.276/.300/.483)
- 1B: Sharnol Adriana, Netherlands (.391/.407/1.043, 4 HR, 10 RBI)
- 2B: Daisuke Kusano, Japan (.289/.333/.526, 9 R, 11 RBI)
- SS: Eduardo Paret, Cuba (.333/.487/.567, 11 R, 7 SB7)
- 3B: Michel Enriquez, Cuba (.424/.447/.515, 11 R, 10 RBI)
- OF: Frederich Cepeda, Cuba (.406/.444/.906, 4 HR, 9 RBI)
- OF: Takashi Yoshiura, Japan (.387/.513/.871, 5 HR, 17 RBI)
- OF: Rubén Rivera, Panama (.324/.422/.595, 9 RBI)
- DH: Audes de Leon, Panama (.356/.370/.756, 5 HR, 10 R, 16 RBI)
- P: Kleber Tomita, Brazil (2-1, 2.19, 16 K)
- P: Jonathan Cannon, USA (2-0, 1.50)