Tue, Mar 17, 2009 - Page 19 News List

US oust Netherlands to keep hopes for title alive

AFP , MIAMI

Jimmy Rollins and Adam Dunn blasted home runs while Roy Oswalt struck out five in four shutout innings to power the US past the Netherlands 9-3 on Sunday in a WBC elimination game.

The victory sent the Americans, who lost to Puerto Rico 11-1 on Saturday, into a do-or-die matchup today for a semi-final spot against the loser of yesterday’s showdown for a semi-final berth between undefeated Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

“We didn’t want to go home quite yet,” US manager Davey Johnson said.

“Everybody was relaxed,” Rollins said. “It was a matter of being determined to go out there and make something happen, not to sit around and wait and let the game play out, but take it to the team.”

Netherlands, which stunningly ousted Dominican Republic in the first round of the event, was eliminated from the double-elimination group with the loss.

“They were able to do something very special,” Dutch manager Rod Delmonico said. “It’s a great accomplishment, gives our players hope and determination that if they work hard they have a chance to play Major League Baseball.”

Dunn’s solo homer in the sixth gave the US squad an 8-0 lead before the Dutch fought back, finally cracking the scoreboard in the seventh inning on Yurendell de Caster’s run-scoring double.

Bryan Engelhardt smacked a solo homer and Sharlon Schoop drove in another run on a sacrfice fly to pull the Dutch within 8-3 in the eighth inning but Brian McCann added a final US run with a double in the eighth as well.

A moment of controversy came when US pitcher Matt Lindstrom’s first pitch after surrendering Engelhardt’s homer was behind the head of the next Dutch batter, prompting several Dutch players to step out of the dugout to protest.

“I thought that was classless,” Delmonico said. “To throw it up around someone’s head and throw behind his head, there’s no room for that anywhere, especially at the World Baseball Classic.”

Johnson blamed the poor pitch on a sore shoulder for Lindstrom and Rollins said the Dutch were justified in stepping up to complain over safety concerns.

“That’s what you’re supposed to do, stand up for the guy that got threw at and make sure the other team knows you’re not going to stand for it. You can’t fault them for that,” Rollins said. “Sometimes you’ve got to do a little extra to protect your guys.”

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