(Story by Marco Stoovelaar)
Netherlands gives away win and chance to reach Final
ROTTERDAM (Neth.) -
The Netherlands Baseball Team led 3-1 with one out in the bottom of the ninth inning on Thursday-evening (July 6) against Chinese Taipei, but the team failed to hold onto the lead on Day 6 of the World Port Tournament.
With one out, Taipei scored three runs, two on costly mistakes, to win 4-3.
With this result, Chinese Taipei reached the first semi-final, while the Netherlands was eliminated for the Final.
Chinese Taipei now meets Japan on Friday-afternoon.
The winner of that game will become the first finalist, while the loser gets a second chance on Saturday-afternoon.
With loss, the Netherlands now will play for fourth and fifth place on Saturday-evening against the losing team of the meeting between Cuba and Curaçao.
The schedule for Friday has been swapped.
Initially, the Cuba vs. Curaçao game was scheduled for the afternoon, but now will be played in the evening, starting at 7 PM.
The game between Japan and Chinese Taipei has been moved from the evening to the afternoon, starting at 1:30 PM.
And so, the Netherlands was two outs away from a possible spot in the Final, but instead will play for fourth and fifth place, thanks to a costly ninth inning.
The Orange-squad took an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first inning.
Chris Garia led off with a walk, then Stijn van der Meer followed with a single.
When that was followed by an outfield-error, the two runners moved to second and third.
Moments later, both scored when Dwayne Kemp singled.
In the following innings, the Netherlands was unable to take more distance and left three runners behind in scoring position.
Taipei got one run back in the third inning off of starter Kevin Heijstek.
Lead-off hitter Tzu-Chieh Lin reached on a throwing error from short stop Stijn van der Meer, moved on a sacrifice bunt, then scored on a 2-out single by Han Lin.
In the next three innings, Heijstek retired the side.
Halfway the seventh inning, during the 'Seventh Inning Stretch', the game was stopped due to lightning.
Shortly thereafter, it started to rain heavily.
There already had been lightning visible during the previous innings, but not enough to stop the game.
When it came closer, the umpiring crew halted the game.
It was reported that there were some severe thundershowers which traveled across the country at that time.
These showers led to some problems on several train-tracks, but there also were reports of two fires in two cities, probably due to the lightning.
After a 42-minute delay, the game resumed, but Heijstek didn't return to the mound.
Kevin Kelly took over and he got two baserunners with two outs, but they stranded.
In the top of the eighth inning, the Netherlands scored what appeared to be an 'insurance run'.
Dwayne Kemp led off with a double, but the next two batters struckout.
Kemp then scored when Nick Urbanus singled into centerfield to make it a 3-1 score.
In the bottom of the eighth, Berry van Driel became the new Dutch pitcher and retired the side.
In the top of the ninth, the Orange-offense also was retired in order.
And with that, the team was three outs away from advancing to the next game, which would determine the first finalist of the tournament.
In the bottom of the ninth, Loek van Mil took over, but ran into problems.
With one out, he gave up a line drive double to Chia-Wei Huang, who advanced to third base on a passed ball.
Moments later, he scored on a single by Yi-Hung Chen to narrow the deficit to 3-2.
Next batter Chia-Yu Lin also singled, which led to runners on first and third base.
It also led to a pitching change, as Van Mil was replaced by Mike Bolsenbroek.
But he didn't get the chance to complete his first batter, as the two baserunners had scored by then!
On his first pitch to Ju-Liang Tai, Chen took off from third base for either a steal or a possible squeeze play, while Lin took off towards second base.
On the outside pitch, catcher Gianison Boekhoudt initally appeared to throw the ball to second, but then turned when he saw Chen approaching.
Chen was driven back to third base and could have come into a rundown, but instead Boekhoudt threw the ball high over third base into leftfield.
That enable Chen to score the tying run, while Lin moved up to third base.
With a 2-2 count on Tai, Bolsenbroek's fifth delivery ended in a passed ball and that enabled Lin to score the winning run and end the game!