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Australia Sinks Dutch At Baseball World Cup

ITALY – Luke Hughes drilled a pair of home runs and Australia remained in the hunt for a medal at the 2009 IBAF Baseball World Cup with a crucial 5-2 win over the Netherlands Wednesday in Grosseto.

Both offenses stalled the first five innings while Aussie starter Liam Hendriks and his Dutch counterpart, Tom Stuifbergen, traded goose eggs. However, Australia (2-3;8-4) broke the scoreless deadlock in the sixth off reliever David Bergman.

The former Dutch Major League Pitcher of the Year walked Chris Snelling to start the inning, and Hughes followed with a deep shot to left field.

The Dutch (3-2;7-2) answered back an inning later off a trio of relief pitchers. Randall Simon led off with an infield hit off Paul Mildren, who was replaced by Brendan Wise. Sidney de Jong reached on a walk before Wise rebounded with a strikeout of Curt Smith. Dutch skipper Rod Delmonico then summoned Bryan Engelhardt to pinch-hit for Raily Legito, which prompted Aussie skipper Jon Deeble to bring in Adam Bright to the mound.

Bright promptly induced a groundball from Engelhardt but Aussie first baseman Stefan Welch made an errant throw to second base allowing Simon to motor home from second base. But the cool-headed reliever responded by getting Sharlon Schoop to ground into an inning-ending double play to preserve a 2-1 lead.

A two-out walk to Eugene Kingsale and back-to-back singles by Yurendell DeCaster and Simon pulled the Dutch even in the eighth. But the Dutch imploded in the bottom of the same inning.

Brad Harman started the frame with a groundball to DeCaster, but the third baseman threw wildly to first base. The Aussie second baseman darted towards second and then raced to third after Simon made another throwing error on the same play. A flustered Dutch closer Dennis Neuman then threw a wild pitch allowing Harman to cross the plate with the go-ahead score. But Australia was not finished.

Snelling reached on a walk and Hughes jacked his second two-run bomb of the game to seal the must-win victory for the Aussies.

Matt Williams (2-0), the fourth reliever out of Australia’s bullpen, worked the final 1 1/3 innings to notch his second win of the tournament.

USA CLINCHES GOLD MEDAL GAME BERTH

Todd Redmond turned in another sparkling outing and the United States became the first team to clinch a spot in Sunday’s championship game with a 3-0 win against Puerto Rico Wednesday in Firenze.

Team USA (5-0;11-1), which has won 11 consecutive games since opening the tournament with an extra-inning loss to Venezuela, plated the only run it would need in the second when Ike Davis tagged Puerto Rican starter Efrain Nieves with a solo home run.

Buck Coats launched a solo drive in the fifth that spelled the end of the road for Nieves who was replaced by Juan Padilla, and Jon Weber added a solo homer in the eighth to seal the key win for the Americans.

Meanwhile, Redmond (3-0) was spinning another gem to claim his third win of the tourney. The right-hander silenced the Caribbean lineup on just four hits and one walk. Jason Childers retired the final two batters to pick up his first save in the World Cup.

CUBA STAYS ON COLLISION COURSE WITH USA

Alfedo Despaigne clubbed two more home runs and Miguel Gonzalez turned in another stellar outing to help Cuba beat Taiwan 8-0 Wednesday and mover closer to qualifying for Sunday’s Gold medal game.

Cuba (4-1;11-1) set the tone of the game early with three scores in the first. Frederich Cepeda put the Big Red Machine ahead with a two-run blast, and Despaigne followed with his eighth long ball of the tourney for a 3-0 lead.

Hector Olivera’s run-scoring single in the second pushed the lead to four runs, and Cepeda drove home Ariel Pestano in the fourth with an RBI groundout to give the Cuban a 5-0 advantage.
Ariel Borrero popped a two-run long ball an inning later, and Despaigne finished off the key victory with a leadoff solo homer in the seventh.

Gonzalez (3-0) tossed seven sharp innings allowing just one walk and three hits while striking out eight. Jonder Martinez pitched two scoreless relief innings to seal the shutout win.

CANADIANS CONTINUE MARCH TOWARDS MEDAL

Matt Kniginyzky tossed six shutout innings and Shawn Bowman and Adam Loewen each homered to lead Canada past Venezuela 9-2 Wednesday. With the win, Canada inched closer to advancing to Saturday’s Bronze medal matchup.

Canada (3-2;10-2) took advantage of the control problems of Venezuelan starter Orlando Perdomo, who hit one batter and walked three in the second frame, to grab a 4-0 lead. Loewen homered to right field the next inning and the Maple Leafs added three more scores to hold an 8-0 advantage at the end of six innings.

Venezuela (0-5;6-6) foiled the shutout in the seventh when cleanup hitter Rene Reyes jacked his fourth long ball of the World Cup – a two-run shot. Bowman answered back in the eighth with a solo drive to seal the win for Canada.

Kniginyzky (2-0) allowed four hits and one walk and fanned three to earn the win.

POOL F STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
Cuba 04 01
Dutch 03 02
P.Rico 02 03
Venezuela 00 05

FINAL ROUND SCOREBOARD:

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

Cuba 2 – Australia 1
Canada 3 – Puerto Rico 0
United States 6 – Venezuela 3
Netherlands 11 – Chinese Taipei 2

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

Canada 9 – Venezuela 2
Australia 5 – Netherlands 2
United States 3 – Puerto Rico 0
Cuba 8 – Chinese Taipei 0

POOL G STANDINGS

Team Won Lost
USA 05 00
Canada 03 02
Australia 02 03
Taiwan 01 04

Photo courtesy of Ratti/FIBS

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