With a relentless, balanced offense, Cuba rolled over upstart Australia, 6-2, to win the gold medal -- its third in four tries since the sport gained Olympic status.
The Cubans pounded out 13 hits, including a two-run home run by Frederich Cepeda, a two-run double by Eduardo Paret and a two-run single by Eriel Sanchez.
Cuba's Ariel Pestano and Yulieski Gourriel celebrate their 6-2 baseball gold medal game victory over Australia.
(Arko Datta - Reuters)
Cuba had been expected to vie for the gold medal with a Japanese "dream team" stocked with top pros. But Australia stunned the favored Japanese, 1-0, in the semifinals, making the Aussies' first baseball medal a silver.
Openly frustrated by its loss, Japan routed Canada, 11-2, to win the bronze medal.
In the gold medal game, Cepeda opened the scoring in the fourth inning with his homer to right-center.
Australian left fielder Paul Gonzalez cut the margin to 2-1 with a leadoff homer in the fifth. It was the first run in the tournament off Cuban starter Norge Luis Vera, who had pitched 13 scoreless innings over three games, and it prompted Cuba to turn to its bullpen.
Relievers Vicyohandri Odelin and Adiel Palma walked the bases loaded. But with two outs and a full count, Australia's Brendan Kingman took a third strike from Palma, who pitched into the ninth and earned the victory.
Cuba put the game away in sixth, knocking out Australian starter John Stephens -- a Boston Red Sox farmhand -- with four straight singles, the last a smash by Sanchez that drove in two runs.