World Port Tournament 2017: Dutch fall to Japan despite ninth inning rally

After an easy win vs Cuba, team Kingdom of the Netherlands did not stand a chance vs Japan. The team was outscored 7-3 and outhit 12-5. Except for the ninth inning, the Dutch did not take advantage of the few situations with runners in scoring position and were kept in check by the Japanese pitching. That was the game in a nutshell.

Dutch starting pitcher Kaj Timmermans managed to keep Japan in check in the first two innings but gave up two runs in the third. With runners on first and second, Japan showed off its speed when Kenta Fukuhara doubled down the left field line and allowed the two runners to score.

Timmermans recovered well and did not allow runs in the fourth and fifth inning. But in the sixth, he allowed two runners on base, one on an error, that would score. After allowing the first two hitters of the sixth inning on base, Timmermans was replaced by another pitcher of HCAW, Jim Ploeger. Thanks to two singles and two wild pitches, Ploeger allowed three runners to score.

In the meantime, Daisuke Yamagami kept the Dutch on a leash as he gave up two hits and two walks and struck out six.

In the seventh Japan would score two more runs to take a 7-0 lead.

But the Dutch were not willing to give up as they rallied in the ninth. Thanks to a single by Max Draijer, an error and a walk, the Dutch loaded the bases with one out. Then Dudley Leonora singled up the middle to drive in Max Draijer and Stijn van der Meer.
When Nick Urbanus was hit by a pitch, the bases were loaded again. Rachid Engelhardt then drew a bases-loaded walk to drive in the third run of the game. But the rally was killed when Kosuke Fukushima fanned pinch hitter Dwayne Kemp.

Daisuke Yamagami earned the win, Kaj Timmermans took the loss as he gave up four runs (three earned) on seven hits in five innings pitched.

Two Japanese players earned the honor of being the team’s best hitter. Yusuke Nakamura and Masaki Yamagishi both went 1 for 2. The most impact had Kenta Fukuhara, who drove in two runs with his sole hit out of five at-bats. Thanks to this win, Japan has moved into a shared first place with Cuba. Chinese Taipei that beat Curaçao 6-3 earlier today has moved into third place. The Dutch are ranked fourth and Curaçao is in fifth place.

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