These World Baseball Classic games have been filled with non-stop drama in pool play and it all began with Group A, that featured multiple Cubs and White Sox players on Italy and Cuba, respectively. Cuba and Italy were the two countries that advanced into the quarterfinals of the 2023 World Baseball Classic after a five-team tiebreaker settled the final standings for their group.
All five teams in Group A finished with identical 2-2 records, but thanks to an insanely complicated tiebreaker, Cuba and Italy were ultimately left at the top of pool a, with Cuba winning the group after losing their first two games of the tournament.
Cuba and Italy needed to win their final games in pool play to have a chance in the tiebreak and both nations did, with victories over Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands, respectively. That left the entire group tied, which led to this series of tiebreakers, the first of which was the only one needed to determine the top two teams in Pool A.
You would think that run differential would be an easy tiebreaker, but no, the World Baseball Classic has this set as its tiebreakers to settle group winners.
- Lowest quotient of fewest runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
- Lowest quotient of fewest earned runs allowed divided by the number of defensive outs recorded in games between the teams that are tied.
- Highest batting average in games in that round between the teams tied.
- A drawing of lots.
So, that led to these standings, with Cuba at the top and Italy in second.
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Not only does this mean that Cuba and Italy advance to the quarterfinals, but Netherlands and Panama also earned automatic berths to the next World Baseball Classic. However, Chinese Taipei, who was one of the host nations in this year’s tournament, has now been relegated and has to win a qualifier to get back into the next WBC.
White Sox third baseman Yoan Moncada was hitless in the first two games for Cuba, but he was a huge part to getting his country through to the next round. Moncada was 3-for-5, with a walk and four RBIs against Panama and then he went 3-for-4, with a home run against Chinese Taipei.
White Sox center field Luis Robert Jr. struggled with strikeouts, but he recorded a hit in all four games of Cuba’s Pool A games. The right-handed hitter went 5-for-19 in group stage at the plate.
Meanwhile a pair of Cubs players are headed to the quarterfinals with Italy, in right-handed hitting outfielder Ben DeLuzio and left-handed hitting utility man Miles Mastrobuoni.
Mastrobuoni went 4-for-14 at the plate with a couple doubles and he showed off his defensive skills at second base, too.
DeLuzio only had two hits in 13 at-bats, but they both drove in runs; an RBI-triple against Chinese Taipei and in Italy’s must-win game against the Netherlands, he singled in a run in the fourth inning.
Italy will now play Japan in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, Cuba will have to wait for its opponent in the next round, which will be determined after Sunday night’s game between the Czech Republic and Australia.