Thu, Sep 27, 2012 - Page 20 News List

Taichung to stage World Baseball Classic next May

AP, SAN FRANCISCO

Taichung is set to stage the World Baseball Classic for the first time.

The games at the Intercontinental Stadium will be in Pool B from May 2 to May 5 next year, featuring Australia, South Korea, the Netherlands and a qualifier.

Two-time defending champions Japan will host Cuba in the first round of pool play.

Japan will host first and second rounds of pool play at two sites. The competition features a new qualifying format rather than the old invitation-only system.

The top 12 nations from the last World Baseball Classic are already in, and the other four competitors will be determined from 28 teams through qualifying. The winner will be named world champion.

The first-round games for Pool A will be held in Fukuoka, Japan, from March 2 to March 6, with Japan, China, Cuba and a qualifier participating. The second round moves to the Tokyo Dome.

“Cuba was a good fit in Japan,” World Baseball Classic president Paul Archey said. “We have more games in Asia. Somebody is going to have to go to Asia and play.”

The venues and pools were announced on Tuesday outside the San Francisco Giants’ AT&T Park, which will host the semi-finals and championship game.

Two more qualifying teams are still to be determined in November, with rosters scheduled to be announced on Dec. 3.

San Juan, Puerto Rico, will host games for the third time at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Those games will be played from March 7 to March featuring Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and a qualifier.

The Arizona Diamondbacks’ Chase Field and the club’s shared Scottsdale spring training facility, Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, hosts Pool D games between the US, Italy, Mexico and a qualifier.

Two qualifying nations were determined in recent days, though they are yet to be placed in a pool because the organizers must learn the other two participants and then seed all four qualifiers.

Spain earned a spot by beating Israel in extra innings on Sunday, while Canada defeated Germany on Monday to secure a place in the tournament.

Still in contention to reach the pools are Panama, Colombia, Nicaragua and Brazil in one qualifying tournament, and Taiwan, the Philippines, New Zealand and Thailand in the other.

The 2006 Classic featured a pool-play format, while the 2009 edition was double-elimination — and the next one will be a combination of both.

The first round is pool play, with the top two teams advancing. The second is double-elimination, and the top two teams will reach the semi-finals.

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