Gonzaga's Utility Man Represents Team USA in Cuba - SWX Right Now-Sports for Spokane, CdA, Tri-Cities, WA

Gonzaga's Utility Man Represents Team USA in Cuba

© Explosive Illustrations © Explosive Illustrations

HAVANA, Cuba – Gonzaga University left-hander Marco Gonzales pitched into the seventh inning in his first pitching start for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team, but Cuba rallied late for a 7-6 victory Friday in an international series that resumed for the first time in 16 years.

Gonzales, a junior-to-be this fall for the Bulldogs, allowed five hits, five runs - all earned, walked three and fanned seven. He left the game after facing three batters in the top of the seventh (Cuba was the designated visiting team).

The recipient of several post-season All-America honors for his two-way play as first baseman and pitcher and the West Coast Conference Pitcher of the Year, Gonzales was touched for three solo home runs, equaling the number of homers he allowed in 92.2 innings this past spring for the Bulldogs. Alfredo Despaigne homered in the second inning, Rusney Castillo homered in the third inning and Jose Abreu homered leading off the seventh inning.

Following the Abreu homer, Gonzales walked Frederich Cepeda and Alexei Bell doubled to left field, advancing Cepeda to third and chasing Gonzales.

Reliever Trevor Williams came on and was touched for a base hit and a sacrifice fly to cap the 3-run inning to draw Cuba to within 6-5, all runs in the inning charged to Gonzales.

In the Cuba eighth, a one-out walk and the lone USA error of the night put runners on first and second. A groundout advanced the runners to second and third, and an intentional walk loaded the bases. William Luis delivered a two-out, two-run single to right to give Cuba the 7-6 lead and saddle Williams with the loss in relief.

Cuba committed its fourth error of the night with one out in the bottom of the ninth, but a pair of strikeouts ended the game and handed USA its first loss in six outings, including Thursday's 4-3 win in the opener of the five-game series at Cuba. The series continues nightly thru Monday.

With the exception of tournament play, the two countries have not competed consistently in a home-and-away series at the collegiate level in 16 years. In 1996, Cuba won a five-game series against the United States, 3-2, as part of a tour played in Minor League ballparks across four southern U.S. states. USA Baseball last sent a collegiate team to Cuba as part of the series in 1993, where it won one of three games in Sancti Spiritus.

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