1991 Intercontinental Cup
The 1991 Intercontinental Cup was the 10th Intercontinental Cup. It was held in Barcelona, Spain from July 2 through July 13, 1991. It was considered a prepatory event for the 1992 Olympics, which would be held on the same site. Each game in the medal round was decided by a single run, a rarity.
Cuba won with a 10-1 record, but it was their closest call for years. They lost their only game from 1991-1996, a 10-5 defeat at the hands of Nicaragua, and needed extra innings to win the Gold Medal game 5-4 against Japan. Cuba's next loss would come in the 1997 Intercontinental Cup. Cuba's top offensive performers were CF Jose Estrada (.412/.453/.605, 16 runs, 10 steals in 11 tries) and RF Luis Casanova (.364/.489/.758, 9 BB, 12 RBI, 4 HR). Their staff was led by Leonardo Tamayo (3-0, 1.11, 13 H in 24 1/3 IP) and Omar Ajete (2-0, 1.35). Ajete and Estrada made the tournament All-Star team along with 3B Gabriel Pierre (.324/.432/.486) and 2B Juan Padilla (.275/.333/.450).
Japan was 7-2 in the round-robin and won in the semifinals before dropping the Gold Medal game. All-Star 1B Yuichi Yomoda (.481/.600/.704, 9 R, 9 RBI) led the tourney in average while All-Star OF Shinichi Sato (.448/.575/.966, 13 R) was 3rd. 2B Koichi Oshima (.344/.405/.688) was third in steals (7) while SS Akihiro Togo (.357/.387/.536) made the All-Star team. Kazutaka Nishiyama (0 R in 7 2/3 IP, 1-0) led the event with 2 saves. All the other pitchers had ERAs between 2 and 3, with Masahito Kohiyama (2-0, 2.38) ranking second with 28 strikeouts (in 22 2/3 IP).
Nicaragua went 6-3 in the round-robin, nothing stellar outside their upset of Cuba. They then lost in the semifinals 4-3 to Japan before beating Taiwan 4-3 in the Bronze Medal game. They had two All-Stars in DH Prospero Baca (.351/.444/.568, 13 R, 12 RBI) and C Genaro Llanes (.325/.391/.425). Key hitters were RF Jose Ramon Padilla (.233/.340/.628, a tourney-high 5 HR) and 3B Jenrry Roa (.349/.420/.558). Tourney MVP Epifanio Perez (3-0, 3.34) tied for the most wins in the Cup while Radbony Sanchez (2-0, 0.50) was third in ERA.
Chinese Taipei finished 4th, going 6-3 in the round-robin but going 0-2 in the medal round. They had a very balanced offense, featuring no All-Stars. IF Yaw-Teing Chang hit .350/.400/.500 and stole a tourney-high 11 bases but was caught 3 times. CF Wei-Chen Chen (.319/.373/.426, 12 R, 12 RBI) tied for second in RBI and was named the Outstanding Defensive Player of the event. Chao-Huang Lin (1-0, 0.90) was 4th in ERA.
South Korea just missed the Medal round, going 6-3. Dae-sung Koo (3-0, 0.39) tied for the most wins, was second in ERA and led in strikeouts (31) to make the All-Star team. Future KBO superstar Jong-beom Lee hit .286/.444/.464 as the main SS, barely better than the team average. Another future Korean star, Min-tae Chung, bombed at 0-2, 7.30.
Soviet Union was outscored 110-20 and finished 9th at 1-8. They had two of Russia's first three minor leaguers in 3B Evgeny Puchkov (.296/.310/.444) and SS Ilya Bogatyrev (.250/.300/.286, .857 FLD). DH/P Leonid Korneev was their top player, though, hitting .370/.393/.593 and getting their lone win on the mound.
- Cuba 2, Chinese Taipei 1. Taiwan took a 1-0 lead in the 4th off Leonardo Tamayo but Cuba rallied for runs in the 5th and 6th against Ming-Hung Tsai to win it. A sacrifice fly by Luis Casanova scored Jose Estrada with the winner.
- Japan 4, Nicaragua 3. Nicaragua led 3-2 by the 7th-inning break but Kazutaka Nishiyama tossed 2 2/3 shutout relief innings while Japan rallied to take the game.
- Nicaragua 4, Chinese Taipei 3. The Bronze Medal game went an exciting 13 innings before Jose Ramon Padilla homered off Kan-Yuan Chuo to end the contest. Epifanio Perez gave up only one run in 8 2/3 relief innings.
- Cuba 5, Japan 4. Japan knocked out Omar Ajete by scoring runs in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th. Starter Hiroshi Shintani held a 3-1 lead into the 9th. Shintani faded, though, and Japan never took him out. Cuba scored twice in the 9th to tie it. Japan put a run on the board in the 10th. In the bottom of the 10th, Cuba scored two more, with José R. Delgado delivering the winning hit off Shintani.
- C: Genaro Llanes, Nicaragua (.325/.391/.425)
- 1B: Yuichi Yomoda, Japan (.481/.600/.704, 9 R, 9 RBI)
- 2B: Juan Padilla, Cuba (.275/.333/.450)
- SS: Akihiro Togo, Japan (.357/.387/.536)
- 3B: Gabriel Pierre, Cuba (.324/.432/.486)
- OF: Jose Estrada, Cuba (.412/.453/.605, 16 R, 10 SB)
- OF: Shinichi Sato, Japan (.448/.575/.966, 13 R)
- OF: Carlos Manriquez, Mexico (.425/.452/.725, 17 RBI)
- DH: Prospero Baca, Nicaragua (.351/.444/.568, 13 R, 12 RBI)
- P: Omar Ajete, Cuba (2-0, 1.35)
- P: Dae-sung Koo, South Korea (3-0, 0.39, 31 K)