With Cuba having beaten Puerto Rico yesterday (see previous post) and the Dominican Republic having beaten Venezuela the night before, and with Korea 5-0 for the tournament, only one slot in the simifinal round in San Diego remains to be determined. It comes down to a game between the USA and Mexico today in Anaheim. Mexico’s thin hopes were dashed last night by the Japanese pitchers’ failure to give up enough runs to put Mexico in a possible tiebreaker situation (see two posts down). However, Japan could still own the tiebreaker with the USA if the latter team loses today.
In case of a win by Mexico, there would be a three-way tie for second place in the pool, with Mexico, Japan, and USA all 1-2. The tiebreaker would be fewest runs allowed per nine in games involving the tied teams. Mexico allowed six to Japan, Japan allowed one to Mexico and four to USA, and the USA has allowed three to Japan. If Mexico wins today, the tiebreaker between Japan and the USA will depend on the score of the game.* If the USA wins, it advances.
Both the Cuba-Puerto Rico and the South Korea-Japan games yesterday were spectacular (as was the previous day’s win-or-go-home DR-Ven game). In Korea vs. Japan, neither team scored till the 8th, when Korea put across two. Then Japan got within one in the bottom of the ninth on a leadoff homer, and had the potential winning run at bat when Hitoshi Tamura nearly homered to win it. Not only would the homer have put Japan in, it would have knocked out the USA (regardless of today’s outcome), which would have been justice for the blown call that tipped the Japan-USA game earlier in the week. Alas, Tamura’s blast went foul. Now Japan needs help from Mexico.