Cuba ended Australia's run at the World Baseball Classic and became the first team to book their place in the semi-finals
Tokyo (AFP) - Cuba ended Australia’s run at the World Baseball Classic and became the first team to book their place in the semi-finals with a 4-3 win in Tokyo on Wednesday.
Cuba, who have players from Major League Baseball on their team for the first time, broke open a tight quarter-final with three runs in the fifth inning but had to fend off an Australian fightback to claim the victory.
Cuba has long been a baseball powerhouse and finished runner-up at the inaugural World Baseball Classic in 2006.
The team has been boosted by the addition of MLB players, with Chicago White Sox pair Luis Robert Jr. and Yoan Moncada both in their starting line-up.
Australia was in uncharted territory after advancing past the group stage for the first time with wins over South Korea, China and the Czech Republic.
The Australians took the lead when Rixon Wingrove drove in a run in the second inning but the Cubans struck back to leave the game tied heading into the fifth inning.
Cuba scored three runs to seize the initiative but Wingrove blasted a two-run home run in the sixth inning to drag Australia right back in it.
Cuba managed to hold Australia scoreless for the rest of the game to punch their ticket to Miami for the semi-finals.
Japan takes on Italy in the second quarter-final in Tokyo on Thursday, with superstar Shohei Ohtani on the mound as the home team’s starting pitcher.