This year, the World University Baseball Championships took place in Havana, Cuba. The Cubans were world champions after Messine (where they won the final against the USA), but were not able to go to China Taipei. So the Americans went to defend the title they had won in 2004 (when the Cubans were absent). But there were other teams too that could pack a surprise, like Japan, for example, which won a place on the podium every time (3rd in 2002 and 2nd in 2004) as well as Chinese Taipei and Korea. Generally speaking, the level reached at the first two editions was really very high. The President of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF), Mr. Aldo Notari (who has passed away since the championships), insisted on being present in person at the first edition to show the importance that his Federation gives to the organization of the FISU tournament. It is true that baseball has been an optional support at a Universiade on more than one occasion, and that relations between the two federations are truly excellent.
Baseball was the very first World University Championship held by the Cuban University Sports Association, but participants could count on their hosts’ know-how in organizing baseball tournaments. This sport is extremely popular in Cuba, and the teams enjoyed playing in the magnificent "Estadio Latinoamericano" which is also the headquarters of the Cuban Baseball Federation.
11 teams, divided into two groups, competed for the title in the tournament. Group A included Cuba, Nicaragua, Italy, the Bahamas and Japan. Group B consisted of the teams from the USA, Chinese Taipei, the Czech Republic, Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico and finally Mexico. Like for the 2006 WUC Softball, the organizers had to cope with some difficult weather. The inaugural match, scheduled with Cuba versus Nicaragua just after the opening ceremony, had to be postponed because of heavy rain lashing the stadium. The ceremony itself had to be shortened and do without the cultural programme. Fortunately, the following day things were back to normal.
From the start, 4 teams stood out. They were all favourites, and had no trouble staying on top. The local team began the tournament with a bang, inflicting a 12-2 defeat on Italy in the inaugural game. After backsliding against the Bahamas (game lost 2-1), the Cubans confirmed the next day as they overcame Japan (4-3) and Nicaragua (7-4) successively to finish in the lead for group A. Japan, the runner-up in the same group, had no trouble besting Nicaragua (10-0), Italy (15-2), and the Bahamas (15-0), but lost to Cuba (4-3). In group B, the titleholders made a great impression. The American team found its marks right away and decidedly outclassed all opponents: Virgin Islands (4-0), Czech Republic (16-0), Puerto Rico (15-0), Mexico (12-5) and finally Chinese Taipei (12-1); and the scores show a lot ... Chinese Taipei finished second in group B, as it too lined up win after win: Puerto Rico (2-0), Mexico (7-2), Virgin islands (15-4), Czech Republic (5-0), but gave way to the United States (1-12).
At the quarter-finals, the United States inflicted a severe 7 to 0 on the Nicaraguan team, and Japan did the same to Puerto Rico (12-4). With a more even score, Chinese Taipei overcame Italy (2-0). Finally, Cuba won 3 to 0 against Mexico. There were no upsets in the semi-finals for the Americans, who ousted the Japanese by 5 to 1. The sensation came from the other match, however, as Cuba was surprised by Chinese Taipei (2-1) and so missed its tickets to the finals.
The final game was crystal clear – Chinese Taipei never had a chance to turn the tables (it had already lost to the USA in the preliminary round). There's no doubt that the Americans showed impressive speed and control, leaving nothing for the Chinese. In a final score of 18-9 they kept their championship title. We meet again in Prague, Czech Republic, for the fourth World University Baseball Championship in 2008.
Male Athletes: 211
Female Athletes: 0
Total Participants: 292