- The Washington Times - Friday, March 13, 2009

MEXICO CITY (AP) - Yulieski Gourriel, Ariel Pestano and Frederich Cepeda all homered to help Cuba rout Mexico 16-4 in seven innings Thursday night to secure first place in Group B at the World Baseball Classic.

Pestano and Cepeda each hit three-run homers in a nine-run seventh inning rally to lead Cuba to a win by the mercy rule. Gourriel hit a two-run homer in a five-run fourth and finished with four RBI’s.

“Mexico and Cuba … it was a though game, we had to play to win it, but at the same time, we needed to keep our pitchers fresh because we were both thinking in the next round,” Cuban manager Higinio Velez said.

Yulieski Gonzalez (1-0) gave up one hit and one run with three strikeouts and two walks in two innings of relief for Cuba.

Francisco Campos (0-1) allowed four runs and four hits in 1 2-3 innings. He struck out three and walked one.

Cuba finished the first round undefeated in three games, and Mexico dropped to 2-2.

“Obviously I do not like to lose, much less like this, but we are in, we wanted to classify, we wanted to finish first, but we could not do it,” Mexico manager Vinicio Castilla said. “You have to learn from your mistakes because the good teams will make you pay”.

Mexico will open the second round on Sunday in San Diego against South Korea, winner of Group A in Tokyo, while Cuba will face Japan in a rematch of the 2006 final won by Japan.

“In the next round we will play the Asian team, they have great pitching, and Mexico will be there also and they are going to be different,” added Velez.

Freddy Sandoval, Oscar Robles and Karim Garcia hit solo homers for Mexico.

Mexico’s Foro Sol, located 1.4 miles above sea level, proved to be a hitters delight, with 28 homers hit in the six games played here.

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