Both teams were already assured of a semifinals spot in the World Baseball Classic in San Francisco, but up for grabs was the top seed in Pool 1 and Japan won 10-6 over the Netherlands in its final game of the group. Japan gets the top seed after winning all of its 3 games at home and will play the first semifinals game on Sunday.
Shinnosuke Abe lit up the game, spearheading an eight-run second inning with a homer and capping it off with a three-run hit. The game had started auspiciously for the Dutch, with Andrelton Simmons homering in the first inning to start the tie well for his team. Simmons had hit the game-tying 2-run homer in their game Monday against Cuba, and was off to a great start again. But the Japanese had other things in mind, blasting off in the bottom half of second inning to take control of the game for good.
Abe led off that spectacular second inning with a homer against the Netherlands‘ starting pitcher David Bergman to tie it at 1 run for each team. The Japanese then loaded the bases up with one out, and Nobuhiro Matsuda singled in the go-ahead run. Hisayoshi Chono then hit a double down the left field line and sent all the base runners home for a 5-1 lead. Hirokazu Ibata was then walked to bring Abe back to the plate again as the Japanese batted around the lineup. Facing substitute pitcher Jonatan Isenia, Abe smashed a fly ball to right field that just cleared the wall to bring in 2 more runs, completing a terrific inning for the Japanese.
The Dutch didn’t give up on the game by any means; they tried hard to make a game of it, scoring twice in the seventh and three times in the eighth to close the gap at 8-6. But Chono effectively put the game away comfortably for the Japanese, completing his five-RBI night with a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth for the final margin.
[ via Montreal Gazette ]
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