Japan Wins Extra Inning Affair Against Netherlands
Every time Japan scored, the Netherlands answered except one as Japan defeats Netherlands in extra innings. Japan jumped into the lead in the top of the 2nd inning with a sacrifice fly from Shogo Akiyama. But in the bottom half of the inning the Dutch scored one of its own to tie the game on a solo home run from Jonathan Schoop.
Then in the top of the 3rd inning Japan would put up 4 runs. The big blow was a 3-run home run from Sho Nakata off of Dutch starter Rick van den Hurk who almost got out of the inning. Nakata’s homer just cleared the left field wall landing in the first row of seats. Akiyama continued the scoring with a RBI single, but the lead was short lived.
As they did the first time, the Netherlands quickly came right back with 4 runs of its own in the bottom of the 3rd. Simmons got the scoring going with a RBI single bringing home Randolph Oduber after he doubled. After a Jurickson Profar single and a Xander Bogearts sacrifice fly put the game at 5-3, Wladimir Balentien damaged a ball hitting a hard line drive off the left field foul pole for a 2-run homer to tie it at 5.
Profar was right back in the mix again in the bottom of the 5th. Simmons led off the inning by tomahawking a single to center. Profar followed with a line drive double, his 3rd of the WBC, down the right field line setting up the Dutch with runners at 2nd and 3rd. Kodai Senga got Bogaerts to go down looking for the first out, and then got Balentien swinging. Senga got out of the inning by getting Didi Gregorius out on a grounder to first.
The Netherlands threatened again in the bottom of the 8th loading the bases with 1 out. Gregorius and Schoop led off the inning with back-to-back singles. After a strikeout of Curt Smith, who didn’t look comfortable bunting, Dashenko Ricardo walked to load the bases. Japan made the call to the pen to bring on Hirotoshi Masui with Oduber up. Masui simply overpowered Oduber for the 2nd out in the 8th, then faced Andrelton Simmons. On a 2-0 count, Simmons checks his swing but fouls off the ball inside that appeared to have hit him at first sight. Either way it was an important pitch because it made the count 2-1 and not 3-0. On the next pitch Masui got Simmons to ground out ending the threat.
The Dutch sent up its best hitters in the bottom of the 9th. Profar went down looking at a perfect pitch knee high on the outside corner. Bogaerts followed with a walk before Balentien lined a single in the right-centerfield gap putting runners at the corners with 1 out for Gregorius. With so much tension in the air, Gregorius ripped a 1-0 pitch just foul down the right field line that might have ended the game had it been fair. Gregorius wound up flying out to left but it was not deep enough to score Bogaerts from third. Jonathan Schoop delivered the game-tying hit with a single up the middle off the glove of a diving Ryosuke Kikuchi who made an amazing diving play earlier in the game. Curt Smith would go down swinging to end the inning but not before the Netherlands tied it up at 6.
Japan started the 10th inning with a Shogo Akiyama ground out. Then the fun began. Seiji Kobayashi singled and was followed by a Seiichi Uchikawa double setting up Samurai Japan with a pair of runners in scoring position with just 1 out. That is when the Dutch went to Tom Stuifbergen replacing Loek Van Mil on the mound.
Stuifbergen immediately issued an intentional walk to load the bases and set up the double play, which brought up Norichika Aoki who then grounded into a double play ending the inning and threat. The throw to Smith at first appeared to pull him off the bag, and with MLB replay the call might have been overturned.
In the 11th the tiebreaker rules came into play where the last two batters were placed at 1st and 2nd base to start the inning. Japan immediately sacrificed them over, and Sho Nakata came through again with a 2-run single.
Kazuhisa Makita shut the door on the Dutch in the bottom of the 11th ending the nearly 5 hour game in Tokyo.
Pool E 2nd Round Standings:
- Japan 1-0
- Israel 1-0
- Netherlands 0-1
- Cuba 0-1
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.