As we await the quarterfinal games in Asia of the 2023 World Baseball Classic, one of the top storylines to date was the remarkable parity that we saw from the 10 games played in Pool A in Taichung Stadium in Taiwan. All five teams in the pool ended up with an identical record of two wins and two losses, meaning there was a five-way tie for first place. Cuba and Italy advanced to the final eight because they had the lowest quotient of runs allowed by defensive outs. Cuba was at .139 and Italy was at .157. The Netherlands were at .186, Panama was at .2 and Taiwan was at .295.
Remarkable bounce back for Cuba
Things did not look good for Cuba at the start of the 2023 World Baseball Classic. They lost their first two games to the Pool’s two European teams–4-2 to the Netherlands, and 6-3 to Italy in 10 innings. However, Cuba bounced back to even their record to .500 with a 13-4 clobbering over Panama, and a 7-1 win over Taiwan. In the win over Panama, Chicago White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada of Abreus and Yadil Mujica of Matanzas had four runs batted in each. In the win over Taiwan, Moncada once again led Cuba in hits with three. One of his three hits was a solo home run in the second inning.
Italy wins must win game in dominant fashion
Possibly the biggest game in Pool A was the last game to be played. On Sunday, Italy trounced the Netherlands 7-1 in the battle of the two European teams in the pool. One could argue that Italy and the Netherlands are the faces of European baseball, as they have won 34 of the 36 European Baseball Championships. The Netherlands could have won the pool with a win, but Italy had a gigantic fourth inning where they scored six runs en route to the six-run win. The big hit was a two-run triple by Kansas City Royals shortstop Nicky Lopez. Italy will now play Japan in one quarterfinal and Cuba will play Australia in the other quarterfinal.