Cuba reaches 2nd round of WBC with 4-3 win over Australia
TOKYO (AP) Outfielder Alfredo Despaigne hit a grand slam in the fifth inning Friday to lead Cuba over Australia 4-3 and into the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
Despaigne, who played for the Chiba Lotte Marines in Japan the last three seasons, connected off Australia pitcher Lachlan Wells for his second homer of the tournament.
''I don't swing to be a home run king,'' Despaigne said. ''I try to drive in runs. I'm so happy to contribute to the national team.''
Despaigne homered three times in six games in the 2013 World Baseball Classic. His grand slam Friday came off a 2-1 fastball Wells left in the middle of the plate.
Cuba finished Pool B with a 2-1 record and will face Israel at Tokyo Dome on Sunday. Australia has played in the WBC all four times but has never made it out of the first round.
''We out-hit them, we out-played them,'' Australia manager Jon Deeble said. ''The only place we didn't win was the scoreboard. They (Cuba) have a knack of doing that.''
Also, Seiji Kobayashi and Sho Nakata both hit two-run homers as Japan beat China 7-1 to finish Pool B with a 3-0 record.
Two-time champion Japan will open the second round against the Netherlands on Sunday.