DUTCH BASEBALL TEAM WORLD CHAMPION!!!
PANAMA CITY (Panama) -
The NETHERLANDS is the new WORLD CHAMPION OF BASEBALL and has written history!!!
...Champion of the World...
In the historic final of the 39th World Cup in Panama, the Dutch Baseball Team won a major thriller 2-1 vs. Cuba, which has captured 25 world titles in previous years, the last in 2005.
In the final, the Dutch squad again showed its dominance and combination of strong pitching, a great defense and timely hitting.
The capturing of the championship title has been a real team effort with new heroes in each and every game.
Today, starting pitcher Rob Cordemans did another outstanding job, throwing a 2-hitter, while key defensive plays were made by second baseman Sharlon Schoop and short stop Mariekson Gregorius.
And so, after losing the finals against Cuba on the Intercontinental Cup in 2006 and 2010 (both in Taiwan), today, the Dutch finally ended on the good side of the score.
73 years after Great Britain captured the very first world title, the Netherlands is the second European country to become world champion!
For the Dutch Team, this was its eleventh victory in twelve games, losing only to Canada 5-4 in 11 innings.
When counting the four exhibition games, the Dutch won 15 out of 16 games played in a period of 20 days!
But the most beautiful of these victories came today, Saturday, October 15 (just before midnight) when the Dutch Team captured the World Title.
And they did it led by Manager Brian Farley, who not even is one year in charge of the team!
Farley was named Manager in November last year and less than a year later, he guided the Orange to the world championship.
How about that for a rookie Manager?
The team earns the most deepest respect for its performance in Panama!
Three individual awards went to the Dutch Team.
Curt Smith was named the Most Valuable Player, Tom Stuifbergen got the award for Best Pitcher based on ERA and Smith also won the trophy for Most Runs Batted In.
A surprising election were the players for the tournament's All Star Team, as NO Dutch players were selected!
And that's something which led to some amazement, as several Dutch players surely had to be chosen for the All Star Team.
But, hey, WE left the field with the best trophy of all!
But in capital Panama City, the day started with rain and thunder, preventing the Bronze Medal-game between Canada and the USA to start on time at it's scheduled time of 11:00 AM (6:00 PM Dutch time).
After an almost 3-hour delay, the Technical Committee and IBAF Officials decided to cancel the game due to the weather and the field conditions.
The decision was made based on the fact that the field was not in a condition to host two games of importance playing for bronze and gold.
Initially, Canada and the USA were announced as co-winners of the Bronze Medal, but later it was stated that a decision regarding the winner of the Bronze Medal was pending.
Therefore, based on the face-fo-face game, the Bronze Medal therefore probably will be awarded to Canada.
...The infield of Estadio Rod Carew in Panama City...
...is covered frequently due to steady rain...
And so, it was fingers crossed for the remainder of the evening for the rain to stop, the weather to improve and the field to become playable in order to start the preparations for the Final between the Netherlands and Cuba, which had to start at 5:00 PM (midnight Dutch time).
The team, which arrived in the stadium three hours before the scheduled starting time, prepared itself with batting practice and throwing in the tunnels of the Estadio Rod Carew, as did Cuba.
Despite the severe weather conditions, both teams showed its intentions of willing to play, but in the end it became a very long evening.
But 30 minutes before game-time, the start was postponed at least half an hour.
It didn't looked good, as rain was predicted for the entire evening, including the possibility of thunderstorms, but the temperature remained good, some 77 degrees Fahrenheit (28 Celsius).
However, as it kept on raining (and sometimes very hard), the starting time was pushed to 7:30 PM (2:30 AM Dutch time), but that also became impossible.
Finally, after it appeared that playing almost became impossible, after the tarp had been put on and off frequently and after a delay of four hours and two minutes, the game finally started at 9:02 PM (local, 4:02 AM Dutch time).
While it still rained lightly, pitching ace Rob Cordemans started for the Dutch squad and immediately retired the side in the first at bat, finishing with a strikeout on powerhitter Frederich Cepeda.
It was the start of a dominating performance.
The Dutch offense on the other hand immediately reached base off lefthander Yulieski Gonzalez, as lead-off hitter Dwayne Kemp reached on an infield-hit, with the ball rolling towards the third base-line, but then stopped, probably due to the wet field conditions.
Gonzalez then struckout Mariekson Gregorius and next, Kemp stole second base.
After Sidney de Jong also struckout, Curt Smith walked, but the two runners both stranded, as Gonzalez followed with his third strikeout, this time on Bryan Engelhardt.
Gonzalez added his fourth strikeout in the next at bat, when he retired three batters in a row.
...Rob Cordemans dominated...
In the second inning, the first Cuban reached base, when Cordemans hit Josť Dariel Abreu with a pitch with two outs, but then a pop-foul ended the at bat.
In the next at bat, Cordemans took care of the Cuban offensive himself, as he struckout the side to raise his total to five.
And so the game (which was played without rain since the second inning) appeared to develop into a pitching duel between Cordemans (who turns 37 at the end of this month) and Gonzalez (31), but in the fourth, Cuba opened the score.
Initially, Cordemans started with his fourth consecutive strikeout (and sixth overall), but then Frederich Cepeda doubled into right-centerfield for the first Cuban hit, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly by Alfredo Despaigne.
The Dutch Team immediately answered with two runs of its own, again showing its ability to comeback.
Sidney de Jong led off with a walk, then Curt Smith followed with a single.
Next, Bryan Engelhardt also singled to bring in De Jong and that also led to a pitching change.
But new pitcher Freddy Alvarez saw the two runners advance on a perfect sacrifice bunt by Jonathan Schoop, then gave up an RBI-single to Jonathan Schoop that enabled Smith to score the go-ahead run, which in the end also proved to be the deciding run.
Hereafter, the bases were loaded when Kalian Sams was hit by a pitch.
But three runners were left behind when Danny Rombley struckout and Dwayne Kemp lined out to Alvarez.
...Sidney de Jong (24) scores the tying run...
Cordemans retired the side again in the fifth, then the Dutch got on base again in its fifth when Curt Smith singled with two outs, but he stranded when a foul-fly followed.
A defensive highlight followed in the top of the sixth when second baseman Sharlon Schoop made a leaping catch on a line drive by Rusney Castillo for the second out in the inning.
Cordemans then walked Alexei Bell, but a flyout ended this crucial at bat.
The Dutch threatened again in the sixth.
Lead-off hitter Sharlon Schoop was hit by a pitch and advanced on another fine sac-bunt by his brother Jonathan Schoop and then Kalian Sams walked.
Next, Sams was forced out on a grounder by Danny Rombley, who himself reached base when short stop Barbaro Arruebarruena dropped the ball when he transfered it for the throw to complete a double play.
But then the two runners stranded when Dwayne Kemp popped out on the first pitch by Alvarez.
...Tournament MVP Curt Smith scores the 2nd run...
In the top of the seventh, Cuba's lead-off hitter Alfredo Despaigne reached second base when leftfielder Dwayne Kemp misjudged a fly (only the fifth Dutch error this tournament).
But then Cordemans retired the next three batters and so the Dutch escaped unharmed and saving the one-run lead.
In its seventh, the Dutch again came close to a run.
With one out, Sidney de Jong walked and moved to third base on a 2-out single by Bryan Engelhardt.
But again, two runners were left behind when Sharlon Schoop also went after the first pitch and flied out.
In the top of the eighth inning, with one out, Cordemans gave up an one-out double to pinch-hitter Rudy Reyes, which was only the second (!) basehit of Cuba this game.
And that marked the end for the veteran righthander, who was replaced by Juan Carlos Sulbaran.
He gave up an infield-hit by Rusney Castillo, which was stopped great by short stop Mariekson Gregorius, holding Reyes at second base.
Without any doubt, this was the most crucial and important play of the game.
How important that was, was proven moments later when a flyout in leftfield followed, which otherwise would have resulted in the tying run.
The inning then ended when leftfielder Dwayne Kemp caught another ball.
In the ninth inning, Sulbaran returned to the mound and gave up an one-out single to Yulieski Gourriel and was replaced by David Bergman.
A flyout then followed, then a single by veteran Michel Enriquez to put two runners on base.
And Cubans always are dangerous in the late innings and especially after the Dutch had stranded four runners in scoring position since the fifth inning.
And just when everyone had taken his position for this two runners on base situation, the game ended with one swing.
Pinch-hitter Hector Olivera connected for a line drive towards third baseman Jonathan Schoop and the rookie was in the right place to catch the ball at one minute before midnight on Saturday, October 16, 2011.
THE DUTCH HAD WON THE GOLD MEDAL!
Oh, by the way, Bergman earned his third save!
Oh, and we all could breath normally again. Pfew!
The webmaster of Grand Slam * Stats & News congratulates all players and staffmembers with this title and their historical performance!