The Netherlands and Italy both recorded victories on the second day of action at the World Baseball Classic, with the Dutch getting past Panama, 3-1 (box ), and Italy needing 10 innings to defeat Cuba, 6-3 (box). The second victory in as many games gives the Dutch the top spot in Group A and a clear path to the second round.
After struggling in the Netherlands’ opening victory over Cuba yesterday, the team’s MLB talent came through against Panama, with Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar both hitting solo homers. San Diego Padres infielder Bogaerts hit his in the third inning to open the scoring, while Profar sent a 1-1 pitch over the fence in the bottom of the fifth to give the Dutch a 2-0 lead.
That was all the offense the Dutch pitching staff needed, with six pitchers scattering seven Panama hits and allowing just the one run. Mike Bolsenbroek, the German Bundesliga ace formerly with Regensburg and now pitching with Heidenheim, allowed the lone Panama run on three hits in his 2.2 innings of work. He struck out one.
Italy, meanwhile, was deadlocked with Cuba through five scoreless innings on Thursday in Taiwan before the teams traded single-inning runs — Italy scored in the sixth and seventh innings, while the Cubans scored in the seventh and eighth — to set the stage for a dramatic extra frame.
Tied at two apiece, Italy scored four runs on three hits in the tenth inning, with heads-up base running and a wild pitch assisting the cause. Nicky Lopez ‘s two-out, two-run single provided the insurance runs for Italy, with Cuba managing to cut the lead — but no more — thanks to a Luis Robert Jr. single.
The defeat to Italy leaves Cuba with an 0-2 record and seemingly no chance of advancing to the second round. Italy, managed by MLB Hall of Famer Mike Piazza, on the other hand, will be full of confidence as the team prepares to challenge the winless hosts, Taiwan (0-1), on Friday.