With some internationally (23 years and older) rather inexperienced pitchers, the Kingdom of the Netherlands managed to keep Cuba at bay in the tournament opener in Taiwan as they beat the Caribbeans 4-2.
In the first inning, Tom de Blok, who hadn’t pitched a game for a year due to an injury-riddled 2022 season, struggled when he gave up three walks to load the bases with one out. But once again, the proverb “a double play is a pitcher’s best friend” proved to be true. With the bases loaded, Lorenzo Quintana grounded into a 4-3 inning ending double play to bail De Blok out.
In the second inning, De Blok gave up a walk that proved to be the game-leading run when Yadil Mujica doubled to right field.
But in the bottom of the third inning, the Dutch evened the score. With one out, Roger Bernadina hit a dribbler to the Cuban shortstop and advanced to second base on a ground out by Xander Bogaerts. Eventually, Bernadina scored on Didi Gregorius’ line drive single to left field.
In the next two-and-a-half inning nothing much happened but in the bottom of the sixth, the Kingdom of the Netherlands struck hard. Didi Gregorius drew a lead off walk, followed by singles by Jonathan Schoop, Josh Palacios, and Chadwick Tromp, leading to three runs and a 4-1 lead.
In the meantime, the Dutch pitching staff kind of cruised through the game. Tom de Blok pitched well enough to keep the team in the game. After three innings and an earned run, he was replaced by Derek West, who pitched 1.2 scoreless innings. Eric Mendez, who pitched scoreless 1.1 innings in relief earned the win. In the seventh inning, Kevin Kelly allowed one run on a ground out by Roel Santos. Also Franklin van Gurp and Wendell Floranus (who earned the save) pitched scoreless frames.
Good old Roger Bernadina was the best hitter for the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The Shark went 2 for 3 with a walk and a stolen base.
Tomorrow, the Kingdom of the Netherlands will take on host Taiwan. Game time will be 5.00 AM CET.
Below you can see the highlights of today’s game:
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