France International Baseball Tournament: Dutch win not convincing

Tonight the Dutch got their “revenge” for the 12-8 loss vs France last night. The Dutch won 3-2, but the win wasn’t convincing.

The Dutch started with Rob Cordemans on the mound. The hero of the 2011 World Cup final recently burned his hand and was pulled after one inning in which he allowed one hit and struck out two.
Cordemans was replaced by Jurrian Koks, who pitched a lot better than yesterday. In two innings he allowed one hit and a walk  and he struck out Omar Williams.
Koks was replaced by David Bergman in the bottom of the fourth inning. Until that moment neither team had scored. The Dutch had Kalian Sams in scoring position in the second inning though, but they failed to drive him in.
David Bergman’s fourth pitch was drilled down the left field line by René Leveret for a double. Leveret was driven in on a single down the left field line hit by Omar Williams to give “Les Bleus” a 1-0 lead.

The French lead would last until the eighth inning. In that inning Michael Duursma replaced Yurendell de Caster at bat. Duursma hit towards shortstop Felix Brown, who committed a fielding error that allowed Duursma to reach first base safely. The following batter, Sharlon Schoop, hit into a force out (6-4) and reached first base on a fielder’s choice. Schoop advanced a base when Danny Rombley grounded out 1-3. Schoop scored an unearned run when Dashenko Ricardo singled to left center field. Ricardo’s single was followed by singles by Gilmer Lampe and Nick Urbanus to load the bases. Dashenko Ricardo eventually scored the go-ahead run on a single through the left side of the infield hit by Curt Smith. With the bases still loaded, the Dutch couldn’t cash in when Gianison Boekhoudt flied out to left field.

The ninth inning started with Kalian Sams striking out. But singles by Michael Duursma and Sharlon Schoop put runners on the corners. A single through the middle by Danny Rombley drove in Michael Duursma  for a much needed insurance run.

In the bottom of the ninth, Arshwin Asjes replaced Kevin Kelly on the mound. Once again René Leveret tormented the Dutch pitching. With an 0-2 count he cleared the left field fence and cut the Dutch lead in half: 3-2. Asjes gave up a single and a stolen base to Omar Williams, but retired the other batters he faced, two of them with a strikeout.

Despite the one run that he allowed in the fourth inning, David Bergman lasted for three innings in which he allowed three hits and struck out one.
Kevin Kelly (and not Juan Carlos Sulbaran, like the stats are telling) earned the win by pitching two innings. Kelly didn’t allow a hit and fanned two French batters.
Arshwin Asjes earned the save.

Even though this was the championship game, manager Steve Janssen used five pitchers to see which one will make the cut.

The French squad used three pitchers.
Nicolas Dubaut pitched five solid innings in which he kept the Dutch from scoring. He allowed two hits and a walk and struck out four.
Yoann Vaugelade lasted three innings and was labelled with the loss because of the two runs on four hits that he allowed. He struck out one of the 14 batters that he faced.
Enrique Juma Trinidad entered the ninth and gave up one run on three hits and struck out Kalian Sams.

Dutch first baseman Curt Smith earned the game’s MVP honours.
(photo: courtesey France International Baseball Tournament)

A few other Dutch players won some personal awards.

Diegomar Markwell was named the FIBT best pitcher
(photo: courtesey France International Baseball Tournament)

My favorite player, Kalian Sams was named the FIBT MVP.
(photo: courtesey France International Baseball Tournament)

The Dutch won, so I am happy.
Looking to the stats, the win was not convincing, so I am not happy.
I don’t really know what to think. Are the Dutch ready for the European Cup? Are they strong enough to dethrone the Italians? Did the French team make a lot of progression or is it a matter of underestimation by the Dutch? I really cannot tell.

What I can tell is that the French gave the Dutch a very hard time. Therefore I need to tip my cap again. What we have seen over the last decade is that baseball outside the Netherlands and Italy has improved in general. The Czechs have made huge steps forward. With the kind of baseball that the French have shown in tonight’s game, it may very well be that they have made some big strides too.

For now I think that the battle for the European crown will be one between Italy and the Netherlands. France may be battling for bronze, together with Germany and the Czech Republic.

I don’t expect it to happen, but I think that European baseball would get a big boost if an outsider like France or the Czechs would win it all.

Time will tell.

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