World Baseball Classic Pool D: Puerto Rico – Netherlands 3-1
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Puerto Rico needed three runs in the eighth inning to deny another major upset by the Netherlands in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. After the Dutch team stunned the Dominicans 3-2 on Saturday, they lost 1-3 on Monday, drawing a rematch with the star-studded lineup on Tuesday evening. If the European squad gets another surprise win over the Dominican Republic they will book a ticket for round two at Dolphin Stadium in Miami. Puerto Rico is already there with the win.
After a scoreless opening frame, the Dutch offense led off the second inning with three consecutive hits. Top prospect Gregory Halman of the Seattle Mariners doubled on a line drive through left fielder Bernie Williams and scored easily on Yurendell De Caster’s ground ball single to right field. Sharnol Adriana followed with a ground ball single through the middle to put two runners on with nobody out. Unfortunately Bryan Engelhardt hit into a double play and Kenley Jansen struck out to end the period.
The Netherlands hold on to the lead until the eighth, hoping for another stunner in the World Baseball Classic. But Puerto Rico had one rally left. Carlos Delgado and Alex Rios walked leading off the bottom of the inning against relievers Dennis Neuman (L 0-1) and Michiel Van Kampen. After a strikeout against former American League MVP Ivan Rodriguez, Mike Aviles loaded the bases with another base on balls. Leon Boyd (BS 1) came in, replacing Van Kampen.
After a called strike to start the at bat, Yadier Molina smacked the next pitch into left field for a two-run double, driving in pinch runner Andy Gonzalez and Rios. Boyd got the second out on a fly ball to right fielder Eugene Kingsale. But Jesus Feliciano added an insurance run with a RBI single to left field, bringing home Aviles from third. The frame ended when Denny Rombley threw out Molina at home, trying to score from second on Feliciano’s single.
Three outs were left in the game, but the Dutch offense couldn’t come back. Two groundouts by Randall Simon and De Caster, and a strikeout by Halman ended the match with a 1-3 loss. Rick van den Hurk (NED) started and allowed three hits and three walks in 3 1/3 solid innings, striking out two. David Bergman (2.1 IP, 1 H, HBP) and Juan Carlos Sulbaran (1.1 IP, 2 H, HBP, SO) held the Puerto Rican zero on the board. But the three walks in the eighth by Neuman and Van Kampen, two with five pitches and one on four, decided the outcome.
Ian Snell started for Puerto Rico and gave up three hits, a run and a bb in four innings, striking out five. J.C. Romero (W 1-0) picked up the win with 1 1/3 innings of scoreless relief. Fernando Cabrera got the save. Romero actually is suspended for the first 50 games of the 2009 Major League season due to being tested positive on performance enhancing drugs last August.