While heavy hitters Team USA and Team Dominican Republic have been battling in round 1, Team Netherland has been on fire. The Dutch team has quickly become a threat in the World Baseball Classic and their showing no signs of stopping. This team is gunning for the prize and they might just take it.
Last week Team Netherlands advanced from Pool A to get to the 2nd round. They left Pool A as the runner up to Team Israel and joined both Team Cuba and Team Japan. Netherlands emerged as an incredibly strong team with a fairly deep roster of players. Round 2 would definitely be the place to prove if the first round was just a fluke for Team Netherlands. Good for them its looking this is no fluke.
Game 1 Japan vs Netherlands
In Netherlands first game in the second round they would face off against Team Japan. Team Japan left Pool B 3-0 so Team Netherlands right out of the gate was facing a tough opponent. Both teams proved to be offensive power house. Japan left the game with 15 hits and Netherlands with 12 respectively. Both teams starters fell apart very early into the game with Ayumu Ishikawa lasting 3 innings while surrendering 5 earned runs. Like his Japanese counterpart Netherlands Rick Van Den Hurk also gave up 5 earned runs in 3 innings. Starting pitching were both teams weaker area in Pool play and it might determine their success if they make it through to the Championship Round.
Ultimately offense kept both teams alive until the very end. Japan kept the lead until the bottom of the 9th with two outs and two on Netherlands Jonathan Schoop tied the game on a single. The game remained tied until the 11th when runners were put on first and second due to the new late inning rule for the WBC. A sac bunt and single later Japan was up 8-6 and that’s where the score would stay. Netherlands would fall to Japan in extra innings in a hard fought game.
Even with a loss in their first game of the second round Netherlands came out of the gate fairly strong. Led by a powerful offense the Dutch team will be well equipped to make it far in this round if their pitching also holds up.
Game 2 Israel vs Netherlands
Israel left Pool A has the surprise winner in a round that included both Team Korea and Team Netherlands. Israel is participating in their first WBC and are looking to make it far in the tournament. In round 1 Israel handed Netherlands their only lose which forced the Dutch team to be runners up in Pool A. In game 2 of round 2 Netherlands needed to head Israel off early as they likely were their biggest competition thus far and likely moving forward.
Netherlands decided early that this game would be theirs and theirs alone. By the 4th inning Netherlands was up 10-0 and that game looked completely out of hand for the fledgling Israel. If Pitching was a problem in Game 1 vs Japan then it was quite the opposite here. Pitcher Jair Jurrjens shut Israel down. Jurrjens pitched 6 innings in the game with 5 strikeouts and only 1 earned run. It was in that time that his teammates had their offense explosion which eventually lead to Netherlands victory of Team Israel by way of Mercy rule.
With Netherlands leading 12-2 after the end of the 8th, the game was automatically concluded with the Dutch declared winners. In the WBC if a team leads by 15 runs past the 5th or leads by 10 runs past the 7th then the game is concluded. With the win both Netherlands and Israel were 1-1 in round 2 so the Dutch were still very much alive.
Game 3 Cuba vs Netherlands
Cuba was sadly 0-2 going into this game vs the Dutch. A win here for the Netherlands would knock Cuba out of the WBC. A win here would also put Netherlands in a strong position to take the runner up spot and move on to the final round.
Netherlands beats Cuba in a devastating 14-1 affair. Offense again was key in this game. The Dutch team continuously likes to show offense early. By the end of the 4 inning Netherland was 12-0. The team combined had 4 homers with Wladimir Balentien homering twice and knocking in 5 of their 14 runs. Pitching also played a a huge factor again for the Dutch. Diegomar Markwell pitched 6 innings while only allowing 4 hits and 1 run. Again the mercy rule was applied and the Netherlands won the game after the 7th inning concluded.
With their win Tuesday against Cuba, team Netherlands looks poised to get runner up in round 2. Team Japan plays Team Israel on Wednesday. A win for Israel makes brings in tie breaker rules for the three teams. A win for Japan makes Netherlands the runner up to Japan and they both advance to the finals. Fans of team Netherlands will definitely be watching the japan vs Israel game hoping for the Japan win.
If Netherlands advances it will be their second time advancing to the final round of the WBC. Netherlands placed in 4th in the 2013 WBC.
Things To Look Forward At
The Netherlands look to be contenders for the top prize. With strong showings in the first two rounds its no surprise that their poised to return to the finals. Their job inst over quite yet. The Netherlands will be facing some strong teams moving forward. With the Second round beginning for Pool F there will be some strong teams heading their way. Team’s USA, Dominican, Puerto Rico and Venezuela could prove to be tough opponents in the final round. The Netherlands offense explosion will have to continue if they have any hope at taking home the top prize. Pitching will also have to continue to be stable against teams that have both strong offensive players and great pitching staffs.
Even with though the Dutch might be a small player in a big baseball pond they are still a stronger contender this WBC. Look for the Kingdom of the Netherlands as they close in on the Final round and hopes for a triumphant win of the tournament. Go Team Netherlands!