Cuba gets past S. Korea 3-1 in exhibition baseball game

November 5, 2015
Cuba defeated South Korea 3-1 in a second round of an exhibition baseball game held on Nov. 5, 2015 at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.(Yonhap)

Cuba defeated South Korea 3-1 in a second round of an exhibition baseball game held on Nov. 5, 2015 at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.(Yonhap)

SEOUL (Yonhap) — Cuba defeated South Korea 3-1 to take the second game of their exhibition series at a brand new dome in Seoul on Thursday.

Cuba scored twice in the bottom of the first and held off South Korea to avenge a 6-0 loss from Wednesday at Gocheok Sky Dome in western Seoul.

The two teams met here for two games in preparation for the inaugural Premier 12 tournament, which will start Sunday with a game between South Korea and Japan at Sapporo Dome.

After getting shut out while managing just four singles Wednesday, Cuba went to work right out of the gate in the bottom first. A bunt single and a double put men at second and third, and Lourdes Gurriel drove in the first run with a sacrifice fly to right.

Yulieski Gurriel then bounced one right back at South Korean starter Woo Kyu-min for an infield single. Woo took the ball to the back of his right hand and was lifted for left-hander Jang Won-jun.

Jang, who was rushed into the game following the injury, gave up a sacrifice fly to Alfredo Despaigne for a 2-0 Cuba lead. Left fielder Son Ah-seop made a strong throw home, but it went off the line just enough to allow Estayle Hernandez to avoid the tag at the plate.

Yosvany Torres hit two batters and gave up an infield single to load the bases with two outs in the top second, but retired Lee Yong-kyu on a pop fly to first.

In the bottom half of that inning, the Cubans loaded the bases on two singles and an error by second baseman Jeong Keun-woo. It was Jang Won-jun’s turn to work out of a jam, as he struck out Lourdes Gurriel looking on an inside fastball.

Relieving starter Torres, Freddy Alvarez gave up a single and walked two batters to load the bases with two outs in the top fourth.

Jonder Martinez came on to face Lee Yong-kyu and got him swinging to escape the jam.

While South Korean relievers kept Cuba at bay, their teammates at the plate kept frittering away chances until No. 9 hitter Hur Kyoung-min came through in the top sixth to cut the deficit in half.

It was shaping up to be another wasted inning for South Korea. Na Sung-bum led off the inning with a double and moved to third on a fly out. When Kang Min-ho hit a comebacker to the mound, Na was caught standing several feet off the third base bag and catcher Frank Morejon got him in a rundown.

Kang reached second on the play and speedier Kim Sang-su pinch ran for him. Hur then delivered a single up the middle to put South Korea on the board.

Lee Yong-kyu, hitless on the night up to that point, followed up with an infield single to keep the rally going. Jeong Keun-woo, however, watched a 3-2 curve for an inning-ending strikeout.

Cuba gave itself more breathing room in the seventh. Lourdes Gurriel launched a one-out double off the right-center wall, and his older brother, Yulieski Gurriel, drove him home with a bloop single to shallow left for a 3-1 advantage.

South Korea put together its final rally in the top ninth, as Yang Eui-ji led off the inning with a double to right center and Lee Yong-kyu drew a nine-pitch walk off Yennier Cano.

Jeong Keun-woo swung at the first pitch and hit a soft chopper right back to Cano, who turned it into a 1-4-3 double play.

Hector Mendoza relieved Cano and promptly walked Son Ah-seop. Kim Hyun-soo then took the right-hander for a ride to deep left-center, but Yuniesky Gurriel made a spectacular catch at the track to end the game, while colliding with his younger brother Lourdes.

Woo, who left after making only 13 pitches, was diagnosed with a bruised right hand and should be ready for the Premier 12.

After Woo was hurt, South Korea used six pitchers, giving them live action three days before the start of the Premier 12. They gave up a run on six hits in 7 2/3 innings, while striking out six and walking none.

Cuban starter Yosvany Torres held South Korea to two singles and struck out three in three innings of work. Four pitchers after him allowed only a run, and Jonder Martinez, the team’s third pitcher, was credited with the win after giving up a run in 1 2/3 innings.

Lee Dae-ho, the reigning Japan Series MVP who didn’t start Wednesday’s game due to a right palm injury, got into the starting lineup Thursday, but went 0-for-2 with a strikeout. He was lifted for pinch hitter Kim Hyun-soo in the fifth inning.

Park Byung-ho, who’s hoping to sign a big league contract via posting, remained cold at the plate. Batting fifth, he was 1-for-3 with two strikeouts, after going 0-for-4 with three Ks on Wednesday.

Leadoff Lee Yong-kyu drew two walks but was 0-for-2 with the bases loaded.