The Netherlands won its opening game of the World Baseball Classic and now the road to the second round and beyond just got a bit easier.
South Korea was the first opponent for the Netherlands in pool play and easily its toughest in Pool B. However, the Netherlands handled South Korea without incident, shutting down 2009's runner-up with a 5-0 victory.
It was impressive because Korea has a great lineup that can score runs, as evidenced by its finishing as the top run-producing team in 2009. That says a lot about the pitching the Netherlands brings to the table this year.
With four different pitchers, the Netherlands was able to hold South Korea to just four hits and we all know just how important effective pitching is to winning this tournament.
A loss in the Netherlands' second game of the tourney against Chinese Taipei won't make things any easier, but it could've been worse had the Dutch dropped their first matchup.
Let's take a look ahead at the Netherlands' road to the final.
The World Baseball Classic schedule can be found on WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Click here for bracket information.
After defeating the Koreans, the Netherlands has now set itself up for an appearance in the second round. With a game against Australia left, the Netherlands should be able to notch a victory in that game and save its tournament hopes after losing to Chinese Taipei.
After that, the road will get tougher, but there still remains a great chance the Netherlands can go even further.
The two favorites from Pool A, Japan and Cuba, will likely be waiting for the Netherlands should they advance to Round 2. If South Korea can recover and get its offense going, expect to see the 2009 runner-up be an opponent of the Netherlands once again in the second round.
The Netherlands has already proven it has the goods on the mound to shut down Korea, so a repeat victory isn't out of the question. All that will be left is a victory over either Japan or Cuba. Thus, the Netherlands would avoid getting knocked out of the double-elimination style pool.
To think that the Netherlands can pitch well enough and slug its way past either of those talented squads is certainly realistic. If that happens, the Netherlands will find itself in the single-elimination semifinal where anything can happen.
After just a single win against a tough opponent in the opening round of this tourney, the Netherlands has put itself in a great position for success and we could see this squad advance further than expected.
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