Netherlands and Taiwan advance at WBC

Netherlands claim victory over Australia to join Taiwan in the next round of the World Baseball Classic.

South Korea were knocked out in the group stages despite a 3-2 victory over hosts Taiwan [GALLO/GETTY]
South Korea were knocked out in the group stages despite a 3-2 victory over hosts Taiwan [GALLO/GETTY]

Hosts Taiwan also progressed to the second round at the expense of South Korea, despite their 3-2 loss on Tuesday.

Taiwan joined the Netherlands in the World Baseball Classic second round Tuesday despite defeat to 2009 finalists South Korea, who suffered their earliest exit in the competition.

At a packed Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, the co-hosts went down 2-3 to South Korea, one of the tournament favourites, but still progressed top of Pool B courtesy of their superior scoring record.

Two-time defending champions Japan, who hosted Pool A and will hold the second round in Tokyo from Friday, are already through along with Cuba. Two teams from the Asian second round will contest the final series in San Francisco later this month.

Chinese boost

Apart from the qualifying teams, there was also jubilation for China, who shocked Brazil 5-2 to finish third in Pool A and guarantee their spot at the 2017 World Baseball Classic, a major boost for the sport in the huge country.

“It’s just a great feeling,” China manager John McLaren said, according to the tournament website.

“I congratulated the team, and I told them to go home and tell everybody in China what a great feeling it is to play baseball and spread the word,” he added.

In Taichung, the points calculation equalled heartbreak for South Korea, who found themselves 0-2 down in the bottom of the eighth and needing eight runs to reach the second round for the third straight time.

Lee Dae-Ho hit a single for 1-2 and then Kang Jung-Ho added a two-run homer, but any hopes of an amazing revival faded out when Kang Min-Ho swung out.

Earlier, Ling Chih-sheng hit a single to get Yang Dai-kang back home to open the scoring in the third inning, while Kuo Yen-wen hit a double, followed by Yang Dai-kang’s timely single to make it 2-0 in the fourth.

Tight contest

Pool B could barely have been tighter, with Taiwan, the Netherlands and South Korea all ending with identical 2-1 records. The Netherlands, packed with players from Dutch Antilles, beat Australia 4-1 to seal their progression.

Starting pitcher Robbie Cordemans kept the Australian batters quiet, while Jonathan Schoop belted a two-run home run.

“Robbie pitched a great game. Five innings and no runs,” said Dutch head coach Hensley Meulens.

“That was the key to our win today.”

Outfielder Roger Bernadina earned the first run by hitting a single to the centre field in the first inning, and the Netherlands stretched the lead to 4-0 in the bottom of the second.

Curt Smith led off with a single to the centre, followed by a single from Dashenko Ricardo before they advanced to the second and third bases on an error. Smith came back after Andrelton Simmons grounded out.

Then Schoop launched his two-run homer to the left. Australia pulled one back when infielder Brad Harman hit a single to the left to welcome Stefan Welch from the second base in the seventh inning.

In Fukuoka, China were trailing 0-2 in the bottom of the eighth inning, before they pulled one back on a walk with the three bases occupied. Fourth batter Ray Chang then stepped up and fired a two-run single to the left for a 3-2 lead.

“That eighth inning, we had a two-run lead,” Brazil’s head coach Barry Larkin said. “Should’ve been much more than a two-run lead. We obviously are disappointed in the result of the game.

“I think we could’ve done a better job of execution today. But certainly in the eighth inning we completely fell apart,” he added.

Source : AFP

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