2016 USA-Cuba Series: Hiura's Heroics Hands U.S. Series Win
A pinch-hit home run by Keston Hiura (UC Irvine) proved to be the difference in a hard-fought five-game series as the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team won the rubber game over Cuba, 2-1, on Wednesday at Capitan San Luis Stadium.
The series win is the first in program history for Team USA in Cuba as the third time proved to be the charm. The U.S. previously lost series in 2012 (2-3) and 2014 (0-5) before today's victory.
With the score tied at 1-1, Hiura was sent to the plate as a pinch hitter to open the top of the eighth. With the count even at 2-2 he hit a moonshot over the wall in left for the only home run for either team all series.
Ricky Tyler Thomas (Fresno State) made the one-run lead hold up as he worked the game's final 5.1 innings, including a 1-2-3 bottom of the ninth, to earn the win.
Thomas allowed just two hits and struck out four while keeping Cuba off the board during his stint which followed a 3.2-inning outing by Tanner Houck (Missouri) who scattered nine hits and yielded just the one run.
Cuba southpaw Livan Moinelo suffered the loss despite pitching well as he struck out six in four strong frames, giving up just the one hit, Hiura's home run.
Jeren Kendall (Vanderbilt) drove in Team USA's only other run with an RBI groundout in the sixth which tied the game at 1-1 after Cuba took the early lead in the fourth.
With the victory, the Collegiate National Team finishes its month-long summer tour with an overall record of 11-7-1, including contests played in four different countries.
Team USA field manager George Horton
(On what his team was able to accomplish)
"As I continue to say about this group, they are real men. I call this the 'Compensate and Adjust' tour with the many difficult travel demands and many difficult baseball teams we have played, including a tremendous Cuban team. There is a reason an American team has never been able to win a series here on Cuban soil. I couldn't be more proud of this team."
(On the series against Cuba)
"What a great baseball series. We played at three different places across the island of Cuba and the love and admiration that the Cuban people have for the game of baseball was obvious. They got a very good show and a very competitive series. I am proud that we were able to endure and come away with a win in this last game."
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