Robbie Cordemans hurled five shutout innings for the Netherlands and Jonathan Schoop hit a two-run homer in a 4-1 victory over Australia. The Dutch team all but bought their ticket to second round action in Tokyo with the victory, while the Aussies were relegated to the qualifying rounds.
The Dutch offence would give Cordemans the early cushion and their starter would make it hold. Andrelton Simmons led off the first with a booming double into the left field corner and was bunted to third by Schoop. Roger Bernadina rapped a single up the middle to drive him in, and the Netherlands were up by one.
An inning later, Curt Smith started things going for the Netherlands with a safety to left centre. Dashenko Ricardo laid down a bunt to move him over, but beat it out, advancing to second on a wild throw by Australian starter Dushan Ruzic. Simmons would drive Smith home on a grounder, but the Dutch were not finished.
Schoop took a 2-0 pitch from Ruzic and deposited it over the left centre field fence for a 4-0 lead, which was more than Cordemans would need. The blast would force Ruzic from the game after he got Bernadina for the third out.
With the Orange offence in charge, Cordemans kept the pressing Australian hitters off-balance for five complete innings. Using a deceptive changeup, the right-hander allowed only one baserunner to make it to third and gave up two hits while sending three down swinging. He struck out two of the last three hitters he faced, using only 67 pitches.
After Ruzic exited, Australian manager Jon Deeble inserted game one starter Chis Oxspring in relief of Ruzic. Oxspring was just what the Baseballroos needed to keep the win within sight. The southpaw battled through his first two innings before settling down, showing his veteran experience in the third and fourth.
With the Dutch eager to blow open the game, they loaded the bases with one out in Oxspring’s first frame, starting with a double by Wladimir Balentien. After struggling with his control to the first four batters, the Aussie pitcher induced a double play grounder to third to end the frame.
In the fourth, Oxspring had difficulty finding the strike zone to the leadoff hitter Randolph Oduber, losing him on a walk and bobbling a sacrifice bunt by Simmons to put runners on first and second with no outs. But first baseman Mike Walker made a good play on another Schoop bunt and got the lead runner at third. Oxspring then took over, striking out Bernadina looking and getting Balentien, the cleanup hitter, on a foul pop fly to get out of the jam.
Oxspring pitched five frames out of the ‘pen, retiring seven in-a-row at one point, starting the run with another double play. He walked four, but only surrendered a single hit, leaving after the seventh inning.
The green-and-yellow had their best chance to draw the game even in the seventh. David Bergman, like Cordemans an ace in the Honkbal Hoofdklasse (the top league in the Netherlands), gave up a leadoff double to Welch, who blasted the seventh pitch of the at bat into the right field corner. Bergman got the next two outs before giving way to Jonathan Balentina, who hit pinch hitter Corey Adamson with his only pitch.
Top Orange reliever Leon Boyd game in to get the Netherlands out of the predicament, but gave up a RBI single to Brad Harman. It was the Aussie second baseman’s first hit of the tournament. Boyd got out of the inning by striking out former major leaguer Chris Snelling.
Xander Bogaerts had his first-ever international hit, a double, to lead off the eighth. Andrew Russell, who came in for Oxspring, stranded him on three straight ground balls, and Australia had one final chance.
Dutch closer Loek Van Mil came in to finish off things, but gave up back-to-back one out hits to Walker and Adamson. Harman almost stole player-of-the-game honours from Cordemans with a blast off the 7-foot-1 hurler, but the long fly ball landed in the glove of Oduber in left field.
A palpable sigh of relief settled across the diamond, and Van Mil struck out the final hitter of the inning to earn the save and all but assure that the Netherlands will be joining Japan and Cuba in the second round of the Classic.
Cordemans ran his WBC shutout streak to 11 2/3 innings and earned his first-ever victory in the tourney. Bergman got five outs, giving up a run on two hits with no strikeouts and Boyd tossed 1 1/3, allowing two safeties and a base on balls. Van Mil closed things out with the scoreless ninth. Ruzic took the loss for the green-and-yellow.
Eight different players had a single hit for the Netherlands, which collected four extra base hits. The Orange struck out only once against Aussie pitching. Simmons had his third double and scored a run and Andruw Jones raised his average to .429, reaching base twice.
Walker was the only batter with two hits for Australia. He batted .455 in the tournament, one of few bright spots for a listless Aussie offence. For the third-straight game, the Australians could not get anything going from their bats, stranding eight batters in scoring position. The team was 1-for-8 with runners on second or third.
China fails to advance to the second round, but will avoid the WBC qualifying rounds. Australia will have a long road back to the Classic as it will enter the qualifiers for the first time. Extra Innings: Baseball Around the World will have all the news and analysis leading up to the 2016 WBC qualifiers.
Stay tuned for more previews, recaps, and analysis of the 2013 Classic.