Kyle Schwarber’s sacrifice fly to score Taylor Sparks in the top of the 10th inning was the game-winner as Team USA beat the Cuban national team 3-2 Friday night in front of a Werner Park crowd of 3,087.
The win was the second extra-inning victory in consecutive nights for the Americans over Cuba in Game 2 of a five-game exhibition series.
Indiana University’s Schwarber figured in two of Team USA’s three runs as he went 2 for 3 with a run scored.
Schwarber said he was looking to get a pitch up in the zone and hit it far enough to score the go-ahead run, but that wasn’t the pitch he got from Cuba reliever Diosdani Castillo.
“He threw a fastball down, and I had to drop the head on it,” Schwarber said. “I just missed it, but it got out there far enough.”
The U.S. got a good outing from starter Luke Weaver. The Florida State pitcher went six innings and gave up five hits and two unearned runs while striking out five and walking one.
Team USA coach Jim Schlossnagle from Texas Christian University said he was impressed with the command Weaver showed against a good-hitting Cuban squad.
“Luke was outstanding,” Schlossnagle said. “I thought he was really, really good. He had a good fastball and a good change-up. He had a good breaking ball.
“He deserved a better fate for sure.”
UCLA’s David Berg got the win in relief while Noelvis Entenza took the loss for Cuba.
Team USA threatened in the third inning when Trea Turner lined a two-out single to left and moved to second on a balk by Cuba starter Freddy Alvarez.
But Alvarez extinguished the American rally by striking out LSU’s Alex Bregman.
The Americans scored the first run of the game in the fourth inning without a hit.
Schwarber led off the inning with a walk, took second on a wild pitch and ended up at third on a passed ball with one out.
Matt Chapman followed by smacking a ground ball back to the mound that Alvarez was forced to knock down, which gave Schwarber enough time to score and put Team USA up 1-0.
The lead didn’t last long. Cuba loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the inning against Weaver.
A sacrifice fly by Yunior Paumier scored Yasmani Tomas to tie the game 1-1, and an RBI single by Lorenzo Quintana gave Cuba a 2-1 advantage.
Team USA knotted the game 2-2 in the seventh.
Austin Cousino of Kentucky blasted a one-out triple off the right-field wall, and he scored the tying run when second baseman Jose Fernandez was unable to handle a ground ball by Grayson Greiner.
The U.S. loaded the bases with one out later in the inning, but Alvarez got out of the inning without any more damage.
Under international rules, each extra inning begins with runners on first and second and nobody out.
Schlossnagle said that though he hasn’t had much experience playing with those rules, he is quickly learning the best strategy after two straight nights of extra frames.
“The more I’m around it, the more it’s going to come down to who gets a hit,” Schlossnagle said. “A big hit that gets more than one run in.”
Game 3 of the series is Saturday at 7 p.m. at Werner Park before shifting to Cary and Durham, N.C., for the final two on Monday and Tuesday.
TCU’s Brandon Finnegan is scheduled to start Saturday for Team USA against Entenza.
Team USA ............................ 000 100 100 1—3 6 1
Cuba ............................ 000 200 00x 0—2 7 1
W: Berg, 3-0. L: Entenza, 0-1. S: Ferrell, 1. 3B: USA, Cousino 3. 2B: Cuba, Gourriel 1.