The Netherlands got a bases-loaded walk in their last at-bat to edge Taiwan 6-5 in Pool A of the World Baseball Classic in Seoul yesterday.
Both teams were in contention going into the ninth inning locked at 5-5 at the Gocheok Sky Dome.
The result eliminated Taiwan and South Korea, with the two East Asian representatives in Pool A eliminated after two losses each, while “Dutch Oranje” and Israel advance to next round, both with two wins in two games.
In the last games of the first round today, the Netherlands face Israel to decide first place, while the game between Taiwan and South Korea will determine the bottom-placed finisher.
The Netherlands got on the scoreboard first last night after catcher Dashenko Ricardo’s RBI-single for one run against Taiwan starter Sung Chia-hao in the second inning.
In their next at-bat, Taiwan went in front with two runs on a wild pitch by Jair Jurrjens and a sacrifice fly by Lin Chih-sheng.
In the fourth frame, Didi Gregorius doubled to knock in two runs and Ricardo sent another runner home on a single to take a 4-2 lead.
Taiwan showed their fighting spirit by storming back in the fifth frame.
Outfielder Chang Chih-hao of the Brothers Baseball Club smashed a shot over the right-field fence for a two-run homer, before first baseman Lin Yi-chuan of the Fubon Guardians drove in a run on a fielder’s choice to make the score 5-4.
The see-saw battle continued with the Netherlands scoring a run in the eighth frame to make it 5-5.
In the ninth inning, the Netherlands loaded the bases against the shaky pitching of reliever Chen Hung-wen.
Chen then issued a walk to squeeze in a runner from third base for the winning run.
In Pool A action, Cuba starting pitcher Bladimir Banos showed outstanding form as he combined with three relievers to blank China for a 6-0 victory at the Tokyo Dome.
Banos tossed five scoreless innings and only gave up one hit to earn the win.
Cuba’s hitters could not get anything going in the early proceedings against China’s best pitcher, Bruce Chen, a Panama-born left-hander who has 17 years experience in the US major leagues.
It was only after Chen left the game due to the pitch count limit that Cuba broke the game open in the fourth frame, with Roel Santos hitting a triple to drive two runs before Alexander Ayala followed up with a line-drive double to score Santos.
Cuba grabbed four runs in that sequence and added one run each in the sixth and seventh innings.
Cuba had 14 hits, while China could only muster one hit, by centerfielder Yang Shunyi, who slapped a single against Banos in the opening frame and later stole second base.
The win kept Cuba alive after a defeat to Japan in their opener, with their next game against Australia.
“If we can win against Australia, we most likely go to the second round,” Cuba manager Carlos Marti said. “It’s going to be a very important game, but if we lose, it’s not the end of the world.”
In the other Pool B contest yesterday, Japan defeated Australia 4-1 on two big homers from first baseman Sho Nakata and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
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