Netherlands vs. Japan
Netherlands Team-Manager Hensley Meulens made one change in its starting line-up, as he switched Jonathan Schoop and Didi Gregorius in his batting order.
Schoop batted fifth in the first three games, while Gregorius batted sixth.
Today, it was the other way around.
...Orange Bullpen Coach Steve Janssen...|
...hands a Netherlands-shirt to Aart Jacobi, the...
...Ambassador of the Netherlands in Japan...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
Rick van den Hurk, who pitched in Nippon Professional Baseball the past two seasons, was the starting pitcher for the Kingdom Team.
The righthander pitched for Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, with whom he won the Championship-title in 2015.
In his first season, Van den Hurk was 9-0.
Last year, he began the season with four more victories.
His 13 consecutive victories tie a 50-year old record for most consecutive wins at the start of a career in Japan.
In 1966, Tsuneo Horiuchi (Yomiuri Tokyo Giants) had done the same in his NPB-debut.
Van den Hurk also wins his next game to set a record with 14 wins in a row.
The streak ends on May 17 when he is the losing pitcher for the first time in his Japanese career.
Van den Hurk knew the Japanese hitters, but of course, they knew the righthander.
And they collected seven basehits and score five runs off of him in the three innings he pitched.
In the first inning, he gave up a 2-out double, but closed with a strikeout.
But in the next at bat, Japan opened the score.
Sho Nakata led off with a double and advanced on a sacrifice bunt by Hayato Sakamoto.
Hereafter, Tetsuto Yamada walked and stole second base.
A sacrifice fly by Shogo Akiyama gave Japan the lead, but it also left a runner, as Van den Hurk closed with another strikeout.
In the bottom of the second inning, the Netherlands came alongside immediately when Jonathan Schoop homered with two outs off of starter Ayumu Ishikawa.
Japan broke the tie in the top of the third and rallied for four runs with two outs to take a 5-1 lead.
This time, Van den Hurk began with a strikeout, but then gave up singles to Rysosuke Kikuchi (who stole second base) and Norichika Aiki.
Another strikeout followed, but then powerhitter Sho Nakata connected well and hit a 3-run homerun.
Next batter Hayato Sakamoto walked, advanced on a single by Tetsuto Yamada and scored on a single by Shogo Akiyama to make it a 5-1 score.
The Japanese lead didn't last long, as the Orange squad staged a 4-run rally of its own in the bottom of the third.
With one out, Randolph Oduber doubled and scored on a following single by Andrelton Simmons.
Next batter Jurickson Profar also singled to put runners at the corners, then Xander Bogaerts brought in a run with a sacrifice fly.
Hereafter, it was Wladimir Balentien, who drove the ball into the outfield for a 2-run homerun that tied the game at 5-5.
Balentien played in Japan the past six seasons for Yakult Swallows
In the top of the fourth, Diegomar Markwell took over from Van den Hurk.
With one out, he gave up a double, then walked the next batter.
A line out followed and hereafter, Markwell was relieved by Shairon Martis, who closed the inning with a strikeout.
...Netherlands Team-Manager Hensley Meulens greets...|
...Wladimir Balentien during the player introductions...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the bottom of the fourth, the Netherlands was retired in order by new pitcher Yoshihisa Hirano, who struckout two batters.
Japan took the lead for the third time in the fifth.
Shairon Martis gave up a lead-off single to Hayato Sakamoto, who advanced on a passed ball and a grounder, then scored on a 2-out single by Seiji Kobayashi to make it 6-5.
Again, the Netherlands appeared to come back immediately.
New pitcher Kodai Senga was greeted with a lead-off single by Andrelton Simmons, then Jurickson Profar doubled.
But Senga struckout the next two batters and a grounder ended the at bat.
In the bottom of the sixth, Curt Smith doubled with one out for the Netherlands, advanced on a grounder, but stranded on third base.
In the top of the seventh, Japan also got into scoring position again.
With two outs, Shogo Akiyama walked and stole second base.
Hereafter, Mike Bolsenbroek relieved Martis and closed the at bat with a strikeout.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jurickson Profar walked with one out.
Next batter Xander Bogaerts then lined the ball up the middle, but second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi made a great diving stop and tossed the ball to short stop Hayato Sakamoto.
A close play at second followed, while Profar slid into the base.
It appeared that Sakamoto might not have been in touch with the base when he received the ball, but replays showed he did very briefly.
American Major League-umpire Cory Blaser immediately and clearly made the out-call, which left Profar somewhat surprised.
Hereafter, Ryo Akiyoshi became the new Japanese pitcher and he closed the inning by striking out Wladimir Balentien.
Tom de Blok then pitched the eighth inning for the Dutch and retired the side, closing with a strikeout.
The Netherlands got a big scoring opportunity to come at least alongside in the bottom of the eighth inning.
Off of new pitcher Naoki Miyanishi, Didi Gregorius and Jonathan Schoop led off with singles.
After Curt Smith struckout, the bases got loaded when Dashenko Ricardo walked.
Another pitching followed.
Hirotoshi Masui took over and struckout Randolph Oduber.
The inning ended when Ricardo was forced out on second base on a grounder by Andrelton Simmons.
...Wladimir Balentien celebrates his 2-run homerun in...|
...the 3rd inning that tied the score at 5-5...
(© Photo: Henk Seppen)
In the top of the ninth, Loek van Mil became the sixth Orange-pitcher.
With two outs, he gave up a single, but then closed with a strikeout.
In the bottom of the ninth, Takahiro Norimoto became the eighth pitcher for Japan.
The righthander struckout Jurickson Profar, but then walked Xander Bogaerts.
Hereafter, a single followed from Wladimir Balentien, who was then replaced by pinch-runner Dwayne Kemp.
Next batter Didi Gregorius lined the ball into leftfield, but it was caught by leftfielder Norichika Aoki.
With two outs, Jonathan Schoop singled to centerfield to bring in Bogaerts and tie the score again.
Kemp advanced to third base and moments later, Schoop reached second on a fielder's choice.
With runners on second and third base, Norimoto closed by striking out Curt Smith.
And so, the game went into extra innings.
Loek van Mil returned to the mound in the top of the tenth.
He gave up an one-out single to Seiji Kobayashi, then pinch-hitter Seiichi Uchikawa doubled.
With runners on second and third base, Tom Stuifbergen took over the pitching.
The righthander began with an intentional walk for Ryosuke Kikuchi to set up a force play.
With the bases loaded, the inning ended when Norichika Aoki grounded into a double play.
As three Dutch batters were retired in order in the bottom of the tenth, the game went to the eleventh inning.
And with that, the tie-break rule came into effect for the first time during this tournament, meaning the inning began with runners on first and second base.
Japan took the lead for the fourth time in the top of the 11th.
The two tie-break runners advanced on a sacrifice bunt, then both scored on a single by Sho Nakata to make it 8-6.
Another single followed, then a double play ended the inning, but the Netherlands trailed again.
In the bottom of the 11th, with Randolph Oduber on second and Andrelton Simmons on first base, the first out was recorded when Jurickson Profar popped up for an infield-fly.
Hereafter, Simmons was forced out on second base on a grounder by Xander Bogaerts.
That brought Oduber to third base and Kalian Sams in the batter's box.
Sams was inserted for Dwayne Kemp and had replaced Wladimir Balentien in rightfield.
With a full count, the powerhitter popped the next delivery up into foul territorty.
There, the ball was caught by catcher Seiji Kobayashi to end the long game.
The following players got into action:
Andrelton Simmons (SS, 2-for-6, run, RBI, strikeout), Jurickson Profar (CF, 2-for-5, double, run, walk, 2 strikeouts), Xander Bogaerts (3B, 0-for-4, run, RBI, walk, strikeout), Wladimir Balentien (RF, 2-for-5, homerun, run, 2 RBIs, 2 strikeouts), Dwayne Kemp (PR, 0-for-0), Kalian Sams (RF, 0-for-1), Didi Gregorius (DH, 1-for-4, walk), Jonathan Schoop (2B, 3-for-5, homerun, run, 2 RBIs), Curt Smith (1B, 1-for-5, double, 2 strikeouts), Dashenko Ricardo (C, 0-for-4, walk, 2 strikeouts), Randolph Oduber (LF, 1-for-5, run, double, 3 strikeouts).