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Cuba Rallies in 10th to Beat Japan, 8-7

July 22, 1996

The Big Red Machine of amateur baseball needed one of its greatest comebacks to keep its incredible streak alive.

Cuba blew an early five-run lead, fell behind by a run in the top of the 10th, then rallied in the bottom of the inning for an 8-7 victory over Japan.

The Cubans won the game but lost their invincibility after rolling to a 6-1 lead in the second. Their pitchers hit four batters and got a 521-foot homer from Orestes Kindelan but couldn't put Japan away.

When Omar Ajete, one of Cuba's top pitchers, gave up a run in the top of the 10th on a double-play grounder, the crowd at Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium stood and cheered the upset in the making.

But Cuba wound up holding the postgame celebration a few minutes later. Rey Isaac led off with a double off Masao Morinaka, Omar Linares singled him home, and Kindelan drew a walk from reliever Masahiko Mori.

Miguel Caldes slapped a single through the right side to score Linares easily and preserve Cuba's unbeaten record in the Olympics. Cuba won the gold in Barcelona by going 9-0, the first time baseball was an official sport.

The Cubans boast that their No. 1 team has not lost in a major international competition since the Pan American Games in 1987.


Italy pulled off the first upset of the tournament, beating South Korea, 2-1, behind the pitching of Roberto Cabalisti.

Cabalisti held the Koreans to five hits and shut them out over the final eight innings. Francesco Casolari doubled in a run in the first and Pier Paolo Illuminati drove in the decisive run with a single in the fourth.

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