World Baseball Classic 2013: Day 10 Results, Recap and Analysis
After the high drama of Sunday's games, led by the United States defeating Canada to advance to the second round, the World Baseball Classic had a lot to live up to on Day 10.
Moving out of pool play and into the second round does increase the stakes, even in a double-elimination format, because every pitch becomes so critical.
The only game on the slate was an elimination game between Cuba and the Netherlands to determine who will join Japan in the Championship Series that begins on March 17 in San Francisco.
Japan, by virtue of defeating Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands in the second round, already secured a spot in the Championship Series.
The Netherlands will join Japan on the trip to San Francisco following a thrilling comeback victory that ended in walk-off fashion. Those two teams will meet on Tuesday in Tokyo just for seeding purposes in the semifinals.
Here is a closer look at what happened between Cuba and the Netherlands from the Tokyo Dome on Monday.
Netherlands defeats Cuba 7-6
A back-and-forth start to the game made for a thrilling finish in a game that sends the Netherlands into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The Netherlands held two-run leads at two different occasions in this game, going up 2-0 in the bottom of the third and 4-2 in the bottom of the fourth, but Cuba kept battling back and was in the driver's seat in the eighth inning.
Cuba took a 6-4 lead in the eighth thanks to an RBI single from Yasmany Tomas and a sacrifice fly from Eriel Sanchez.
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But the Cuban bullpen could not hold that lead, as Atlanta Braves shortstop Andrelton Simmons hit a game-tying two-run home run for the Netherlands.
The Cuban team did not give in, having a chance to take the lead one more time in the top of the ninth inning with runners on first and third with one out. Netherlands pitcher Loek Van Mil got out of the jam by striking out Frederich Cepeda and getting Jose Abreu, who has been so hot in this event, to fly out.
Things got interesting in the bottom of the ninth, as Cuban third baseman bobbled a ball hit by Andruw Jones that allowed him to reach first with one out. Curt Smith followed with a single up to left.
Boston Red Sox prospect Xander Bogaerts stepped into the box after a pitching change and delivered a soft single to left field, loading the bases with just one out. After another pitching change for Cuba, Kalian Sams hit a fly ball to deep center that scored Jones.
This was a thrilling game, easily the best of the 2013 World Baseball Classic so far. Netherlands continues to surprise with its potent offensive play and getting just enough pitching when it has to.
Japan will still be the heavy favorite in the game between these two on Tuesday, as it should be having just defeated the Netherlands by 12 runs on Sunday. But the Netherlands knows it is moving on to San Francisco, regardless of what happens in that game.
Both Japan and the Netherlands will have plenty of time to wait. The loser of that game will play on Sunday, while the winner takes the field next Monday.
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