With the weekend over, Pool Play in the World Baseball Classic has come to an end. The second round has been underway for a few days, but the coverage, at least in this country, has been all over the United States.
Now we can give a little more attention to the other countries that have been playing well to make the second round even better than the first. As the tournament moves along, talent levels start to even out and games tend to be better played.
Of course, as we saw with Japan and the Netherlands on Sunday, occasionally you will get a clunker because one team doesn't have the pitching to sustain a nine-inning game.
Here is a final look at the eight countries that advanced to the second round and a schedule for the remaining games.
|TEAMS THAT ADVANCED TO SECOND ROUND|
|Cuba (Won Pool A)|
|Japan (Runner-up in Pool A)|
|Chinese Taipei (Won Pool B)|
|Netherlands (Runner-up in Pool B)|
|Dominican Republic (Won Pool C)|
|Puerto Rico (Runner-up in Pool C)|
|United States (Won Pool D)|
|Italy (Runner-up in Pool D)|
The biggest surprise in that group is Puerto Rico. Everyone thought that Venezuela, with the power it had in the lineup, would join the Dominican Republic out of Pool C.
However, Puerto Rico's stout pitching and underrated offense proved to be too much for Venezuela in a showdown on Saturday night that secured the fate for both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Despite its lack of pitching depth, the Netherlands also impressed in the first round with a strong offensive attack. The one blemish on its resume in the Pool B came against Chinese Taipei, which won its group.
|MATCHUP||DATE, START TIME|
|Cuba at Netherlands||Mon. March 11, 6:00 a.m.|
|Cuba/Netherlands Winner at Japan||Tue. March 12, 6:00 a.m.|
Games played at Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan and broadcast on MLB Network. Start times listed are ET.
Cuba, Netherlands, Japan and Chinese Taipei comprised the four teams in Pool 1. Chinese Taipei was eliminated after losing back-to-back games against Japan and Cuba, including a 14-0 drubbing against the latter.
Japan is the only team left in this pool that has not lost a game in the second round, defeating Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands.
|MATCHUP||DATE, START TIME|
|Game 1: Italy at Dominican Republic||Tue. March 12 at 1:00 p.m.|
|Game 2: Puerto Rico at United States||Tue. March 12 at 8:00 p.m.|
|Game 3: Game 1 Loser at Game 2 Loser||Wed. March 13 at 7:00 p.m.|
|Game 4: Game 1 Winner at Game 2 Winner||Thu. March 14 at 7:00 p.m.|
|Game 5: Game 3 Winner at Game 4 Loser||Fri. March 15 at 7:00 p.m.|
|Game 6: Game 5 Winner at Game 4 Winner||Sat. March 16 at 1:00 p.m.|
Games played at Marlins Park in Miami, FL and broadcast on MLB Network. Start times listed are ET.
The United States was able to survive against Canada to make it into the second round. Italy, despite its loss to the U.S. on Saturday night, knew it had already locked up a spot in this round before that game even started.
The Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico were battling for position when they met on Sunday night. Both teams took control of Pool C, with Puerto Rico being a huge surprise, and making that game feel a bit less important.
All that was at stake for the Dominican and Puerto Rico was the time and opponent to play on Tuesday, as the U.S. awaited the loser as Italy was scheduled to take on the winner.