In the first practice game since the start of their training camp in preparation of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, the Dutch team traveled to Tucson to face the KT Wiz from the Korean Baseball Organization for a practice game. Thanks to some sloppy defense by the Dutch, the Koreans won 5-2.
The KT Wiz is training at the former Spring Training complex of the Arizona Diamondbacks and are there for three weeks now, while the Dutch are only training for a couple of days.
Bench coach Andruw Jones managed the Dutch as manager Hensley Meulens has to fulfill his duties as hitting coach for the San Francisco Giants first.
The Koreans took an early lead in the second inning on a sac fly on which the first (unearned) run was scored. But team Kingdom of the Netherlands would bounce back when Randolph Oduber hit a two run shot to left field, to give the Dutch a 2-1 lead.
Jair Jurrjens was the starter and pitched two innings before he was replaced by Diegomar Markwell. Markwell pitched two scoreless frames but that was with the help of center fielder Kalian Sams, who nailed a runner at the home plate, who tried to score from second base.
But this Korean team proved to be too strong for the Dutch, merely thanks to some sloppy defensive plays. The KT Wiz took a 3-2 lead on a double to right field after a single and a fielding error. Thanks to a throwing error by shortstop Stijn van der Meer, who fielded the ball with a nice action, first baseman Curt Smith could not keep his foot on the base. In an attempt to tag the runner, the ball popped out of his glove, and this gave the Koreans the opportunity to score their fourth run.
In the sixth inning, Kevin Heijstek took the mound, after six months of absence. The pitcher of L&D Amsterdam Pirates, who sustained a hamstring injury during the final of the European Champions Cup against Rimini Pirates, gave up one run on a solo homerun.
Manager Hensley Meulens said that the result did not matter. On the defensive side, the Dutch has to be more accurate. Especially at bat, the Dutch need to be more aggressive. The Asian pitchers try to take a lead in the pitch count on a fastball before they start to throw their breaking stuff. When it comes to the pitching, Meulens was rather satisfied.
Tomorrow, the Dutch will head to Tucson once more, to face another Korean opponent, the NC Dinos.
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