PUEBLA — Team Netherlands lost 9-3 (box score) to Venezuela in its opening game in the three-team group stage of the Final Olympic Qualifier event in Puebla, Mexico.
Venezuela scored two runs in the first inning and did not look back from there, eventually putting together a 5-0 lead before the Dutch brought a runner home in the bottom of the sixth. The Venezuelans tacked on another four runs in the ninth, before a Sharlon Schoop two-run homer finished the scoring.
The Dutch now face the Dominican Republic, who defeated Venezuela 10-7 in the event’s opening game on Tuesday. The favored Venezuelans, with a roster that includes seven players with MLB experience, led twice in the game but surrendered five runs and back-to-back-to-back home runs in the seventh inning to seal their fate.
Venezuela finishes the group stage with a 1-1 record. A win by the Dominican Republic tonight would pit the Venezuelans and the Dutch against each other once again on Friday, with the Dominicans waiting in the final on Saturday.
The event’s winner will claim the sixth and final spot in the Tokyo Olympics baseball tournament, joining host Japan, the USA, Mexico, South Korea and Israel.
First pitch tonight at the Estadio de Béisbol Hermanos Serdán, home of Mexican Baseball League’s Pericos de Puebla, is at 23:30 (CEST). In select territories, the game will be streamed via the World Baseball and Softball Confederations’s Facebook page and YouTube channel.