Dutch defeat Thailand to reach Championship Round
TAICHUNG (Taiwan) -
The Dutch National Baseball Team has qualified for the Championship Round of the Intercontinental Cup (again).
On Wednesday, Day 5 of the event, the national squad closed the preliminary round of the tournament with a 7-2 win vs. Thailand.
When the seventh inning started, the Dutch led 3-0, but then Thailand suddenly came back with two runs, but that was all for the Asian team.
The day ended with a surprise 3-0 win by Italy vs. Japan, meaning there was a 3-way for first place.
As the games played between the three teams resulted in a new tie, the runs given up were decisive and that resulted in the Dutch team finishing in first place, followed by Japan and Italy.
The Dutch Team now will face Cuba on Thursday-afternoon, followed by Korea on Friday-afternoon and Taiwan on Saturday-afternoon.
Dutch starting pitcher Kevin Heijstek threw five strong innings in which he struckout eight batters and gave up only one basehit.
The righthander of Dutch champion Neptunus struckout the side in the first at bat, needing only 12 pitches.
That some Thai batters can make contact became clear in the second inning when lead-off hitter Kongsabai Teerasak hit a line drive back to Heijstek, who caught the ball.
The next hitter then reached on an error and stole second base, but stranded there.
Heijstek finished with a strikeout, then threw two more to start the third inning in which he retired the side again.
Heijstek got another 1-2-3 inning in the fourth, including two more strikeouts.
With one out in the fifth at bat, Heijstek gave up his first and only basehit when Sampahar Nattapong singled into left-centerfield.
After five innings, Heijstek was relieved by Orlando Yntema.
In the meantime, the Dutch offense supported Heijstek with three runs, which came after three scoreless innings.
Thai starter Meeboonrod Nattapong (the brother of third baseman Sampahar) was off to a good start, as he retired the side in the first inning, throwing only seven pitches.
He then needed only 10 in the next at bat when he again got three quick outs.
In the third, the Dutch got on base for the first time.
Shawn Zarraga (who was the catcher today) led off with a single, but then two outs followed.
Next, Zarraga advanced to third base when Mariekson Gregorius doubled, but the two were left, as next hitter Dwayne Kemp grounded out.
...Winning pitcher Kevin Heijstek - 8 strikeouts...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
As all batters now had faced Nattapong, they were more productive in their second turn to face the Thai righthander.
In the fourth, Danny Rombley and Sharlon Schoop led off with singles.
Bryan Engelhardt followed with another single to put the Dutch ahead, 1-0.
But this was to be the lone run in this at bat, as next hitter Bas de Jong lined into a double play and Shawn Zarraga flied out.
Two runs were added in the fifth inning.
Jason Halman, who played in his first game of the tournament and was the DH today, led off with a single, then moved to third base when Shaldimar Daantji followed with a double.
A single by Mariekson Gregorius then led to a run.
Hereafter, Daantji scored on a force play-grounder by Dwayne Kemp.
In his first inning, Orlando Yntema retired the side in the sixth, but then the Dutch left two runners in their sixth.
With two outs, Shawn Zarraga walked and Jason Halman doubled, but both stranded, as Shaldimar Daantji flied out.
Then a turn of events occured in the seventh inning, as Thailand suddenly came back with two runs to narrow the deficit to only 3-2.
Sudsawad Anukul and Chidsanu led off with singles, then both advanced when Orlando Yntema threw a wild pitch.
Grounders by Kongsabai Teerasak and Sitthikaew Sek then led to two runs.
Next, Sampahar Nattapong also singled, which marked the end for Yntema.
Berry van Driel took over and struckout the first hitter he faced to end the Thai comeback.
And that was it for them.
...3 hits, 2 doubles...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
The Dutch immediately took more distance in the home of the seventh, scoring three runs, highlighted by two back-to-back triples.
Mariekson Gregorius led off with a single, then Dwayne Kemp reached on an error, which put runners on second and third base.
Both then scored on a triple by Danny Rombley (his second in this tournament).
Hereafter, Meeboonrod Nattapong was relieved by Kanjanavis Kamolphan, but he was greeted by a triple off the bat of Sharlon Schoop that led to the third run in the inning and a more comfortable 6-2 lead.
But after the triple, three quick outs followed.
Berry van Driel got an 1-2-3 eighth inning, then the Dutch added a run in the home half.
Jason Halman (who was 3-for-4) led off with his second double in the game, then Shaldimar Daantji reached on an infield-hit, which held Halman at second base.
The bases were loaded when Mariekson Gregorius (who was 4-for-5) again singled.
But despite having the bases loaded with no outs, only one run was scored.
That run was scored when next hitter Dwayne Kemp grounded into a 4-6-3 double.
Danny Rombley then reloaded the bases after being hit by a pitch, but the inning then ended when he was forced out on a grounder by Sharlon Schoop.
Now leading 7-2, Nick Stuifbergen became the new Dutch pitcher in the ninth inning.
He gave up a lead-off single, but then retired the next three hitters to end the game.
Day 5 started with a huge 20-0 win by Cuba vs. Hong Kong at Taichung.
The Cubans collected 21 basehits, including four by Hector Olivera and three by Giorvis Duvergel, who also homered.
Both also scored four runs.
Leading 7-0 after two innings, Cuba struck in the third inning with a 11-run rally on 11 basehits.
Winning pitcher Dalier Hinojosa threw a 5-inning Perfect Game and struckout seven batters.
The second Cuban inning ended with a rare situation.
With one out and the bases loaded, Yulexis La Rosa flied out to short with the ball ending up in the glove of the second baseman (hey, wasn't this an infield-fly?) for the first out, but then the runner on first base, Alexander Malleta became the third out, as he was ruled out for passing preceding runner Yoennis Cespedes in this situation, therefore ending the inning.
At Douliu City, Korea shutout the Czech Republic, 9-0, scoring five runs in the fourth inning.
The Koreans had 14 basehits, including four by Ji-Young Lee.
The Czechs had only two hits in this game in which Dutch umpire Henri van Heijningen was at first base and Feiko Drost was one of the scorers.
Feiko also was one of the scorers in the evening game at Douliu City in which Italy surprised with a 3-0 win vs. unbeaten Japan.
The Italians scored twice in the second inning.
An error led to the first run, then a single by Juan Carlos Infante (who was 3-for-5) made it 2-0.
In the fourth inning, Italy added an insurance run on a single by Jairo Ramos Gizzi.
Japan produced only two basehits, both off starter Cody Cillo, who threw eight innings and struckout six.
Closer Yovany D'Amico threw the ninth inning and struckout two to earn a save.