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Oi, Oi, Oi! Australia can't come up with big hit

MLB.com

Looking to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic for the first time, Australia gave Cuba everything it could handle on Thursday in a Pool B elimination game at the Tokyo Dome. But in a 4-3 loss, the Australians squandered several golden opportunities.

Australia had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings, but couldn't push a run across. The struggles began in the first, when with two outs and runners at first and second, Tim Kennelly flied out to left field to end the threat.

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Looking to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic for the first time, Australia gave Cuba everything it could handle on Thursday in a Pool B elimination game at the Tokyo Dome. But in a 4-3 loss, the Australians squandered several golden opportunities.

Australia had runners in scoring position in each of the first four innings, but couldn't push a run across. The struggles began in the first, when with two outs and runners at first and second, Tim Kennelly flied out to left field to end the threat.

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In the second, David Kandilas came to the plate with two outs and Allan de San Miguel at second. Kandilas popped out to third.

With the bases loaded and two outs in the third, Logan Wade struck out. And in the fourth, with runners at first and second and one out, James Beresford flied out to center, and Luke Hughes -- who drove in four runs against Chinese Taipei -- struck out swinging.

:: 2017 World Baseball Classic ::

Australia finally broke through in the fifth, when Wade singled home Mitchell Dening. But presented with yet another scoring chance in the sixth -- this one with runners at the corners and nobody out -- the rally fizzled with a Hughes strikeout followed by Dening grounding into a 4-6-3 double play.

In the end, Australia went 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position, leaving 15 on base.

"We just didn't get many hits with runners in scoring position. We had nine at-bats and we had runners on second base eight times and we couldn't score," manager Jon Deeble said after the game. "That's the big difference. They get the big hits. We get a home run with no one on, and they get a home run with the bases loaded, and that was the ballgame."

Trent Oeltjen would homer in the seventh, and Dening would bring the Aussies to within a run with an RBI single in the eighth, but the missed opportunities early in the game proved to be their undoing in an upset bid that fell just short.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Manny Randhawa is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @MannyOnMLB

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