Netherlands 3, Dominican Republic 2. Wow.
Baseball cliches do come true. Some of my favorites are: “anything can happen in baseball”, “that’s why they play the games” and “the team that executes will win.”
The Dominican Republic players were handed defeat by…themselves.
This stunning upset was truly a tale of three innings, and what did and did not happen in those three innings.
First inning: Three ugly runs are scored by the Dutch team. The leadoff batter reaches first on a tapper in front of Miguel Tejada, who has never played third base professionally. An attempted sacrifice bunt is botched by catcher Miguel Olivo. After two outs, a walk loads the bases.
Wild pitch! One run. Runners on second and third, a sharp grounder to shortstop Hanley Ramirez’s left. He knocks it down, bobbles the ball, fires hard and wide past first base. Two more runs. The Dutch are up 3-0 after one inning.
Fifth inning: The Dominicans had scored two runs (a Miguel Tejada homer in the fourth and a sacrifice fly earlier in the fifth). Speedy Willy Taveras is on third base with one out. David Ortiz is at bat and the third baseman is playing way off the bag.
A pitch in the dirt caroms off the catcher and heads toward the on-deck circle. Taveras, who should have been halfway down the line with the pitch, freezes and stays. Ortiz is now walked intentionally to load the bases. Miguel Tejada hits one hard at the third baseman, who steps on the bag and throws to first for the inning-ending double play!
Ninth inning: The same Willy Taveras is on second base (already in scoring position) with one out. He is the potential tying run. Taveras tries to steal third base and is gunned out by catcher Kenley Jansen. A walk, then a strikeout and the game is over. Unbelievable!
Five Dutch hurlers pitched as if they had ice in their veins. Rob Cordemans, 34 years old with no North American experience other than the 2006 WBC, baffled the Dominicans for three innings. In the eighth inning, 19 year old Red Sox prospect Dennis Neuman showed great poise and excellent stuff.
A fine three-inning relief appearance by Pedro Martinez was spoiled because his team simply failed to execute. Now, the Dominicans need to beat Panama tomorrow to qualify for the next round. Wow.