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Baseball: Cuba demolish Taiwan to keep WBC hopes alive

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Powerful Cuba belted four home runs in a 14-0 demolition of Taiwan on Saturday which kept alive their hopes of a first World Baseball Classic title.

Frederich Cepeda's two-run homer got them off and running in the first inning and Yasmany Tomas hit another for three runs in the fourth, before Jose Abreu and Alfredo Despaigne both knocked it out of the park in an eighth-inning rampage.

The thumping win, which was brought to an early halt after Cuba had a more than 10-point advantage after seven innings, revived the campaign of the 2006 finalists after Friday's shock loss to the Netherlands.

Cuba will now face the losers of Sunday's clash between Japan, the two-time defending champions, and the Netherlands for a spot in the second round's final game on Tuesday.

But defeat spelled the end of Taiwan's campaign after the round one co-hosts narrowly lost to Japan 4-3 on Friday.

Cepeda's two-run homer off Taiwan starter Lo Ching-Lung into the right stand put Cuba ahead 2-0 in the bottom of the first.

Taiwan squandered a scoring chance with two outs in the second inning when Kuo Yen-Wen grounded out with runners on the first and second bases.

Lo walked Erisbel Arruebarruena at the start of Cuba's third-inning offensive and let him reach second base on a sacrifice bunt by Guillermo Heredia.

Taiwan manager Hsieh Chang-Heng changed their pitcher to left-hander Yang Yao-Hsun to stop the Caribbean guns.

But they had to pull him out in the next inning after he allowed Cuba a four-run blitz including the three-run homer by right-fielder Tomas.

Taiwan put another runner in a scoring position with two outs in the fifth inning after catcher Kao Chih-Kang was walked and reached second base on a grounder by Kuo.

But Yang Dai-Kang popped up, drawing a collective sigh from Taiwan supporters at Tokyo Dome.

Cuba's red machine hit top gear in the sixth with eight runs including two homers by Abreu and Despaigne, forcing Taiwan to change their pitcher twice. The game was called at the end of the seventh inning as Cuba's lead surpassed 10 runs.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/afp/130309/baseball-cuba-demolish-taiwan-keep-wbc-hopes-alive