Japan/Netherlands Advance to Final Four; Puerto Rico Upsets Dominican

The Netherlands left no doubt who had the superior team in their game against Cuba. They were up 12-0 after four and only needed seven innings to embarrass a once proud Cuban team 14-1 to advance to the final four. Twenty years ago those were scores the Cubans were putting up on the Netherlands in their games.

Wladimir Balentien hit two homeruns early, a three run shot in the first and a solo shot in the third to put a hurting on the Cuban pitchers. Yurendell DeCaster also homered in the third, a two run shot and contributed four RBIs in the game. He also lined a two run single in the five run fifth to put a dagger in the Cuban spirits to compete in this game. Kalian Sams finished off the scoring with a solo shot in the seventh and final inning.

The Cuban bats could not mount much of an offense against Diegomar Markwell, scoring just once against him in his six innings of work. That one score occurred after they were down 13-0. It didn’t matter who the Cubans trotted out to the mound. The Netherlands treated them all as if they were batting practice pitchers. Lazaro Blanco got the start and did not last two innings, giving up four runs. Vladimir Garcia could not last two inning before giving up five runs. Leandro Martinez, a 38 year old who would not have made a Cuban national team in the past, threw the best with three innings of mopup, allowing just two runs.

The crowd was listed at 40,680.

Japan 8 Israel 3

Japan ended a nice run by Israel with their 8-3 win, eliminating them from the final four. It was a pitcher’s duel for the first five innings with closer Josh Zeid getting the start and shutting out the Japanese bats for four innings. Israel just does not have enough depth in its pitching staff to keep the Samurai bats down for a full game. In the sixth Yoshitomo Tsutsugoh woke the bats up by leading off the inning with a homerun. Before the inning was complete four more runs had scored.

Dylan Axelrod replaced Josh Zeid and retired the side in order in the fifth. In the sixth he was not so fortunate, giving up two hits and a walk for three runs. His replacements were also ineffective and when the sixth inning was done you could put a fork in the game. Japan had a 5-0 lead.

The Israeli bats had trouble hitting Kodai Senga, producing a leadoff single from Sam Fuld in the first. After the leadoff single the Israelis could muster no more hits when Senga finished his outing after the fifth inning.

Japan put the game away in the eighth with three runs, Seiichi Uchikawa roping a two run double and Nobuhiro Matsuda tacking on one more run with a single.

Israel finally strung an offense together in the ninth with a walk and two singles off Kazuhisa Makita to score their first run, an Ike Davis single driving in the run. Ryan Lavarnway hit a two run double to pull Israel to 8-3, but that was as far as they were going to get. The good news for Israel is they get an automatic bid to play in the next WBC, not having to qualify as they did this year.

There were 43,179 who attended this game, much of the crowd already purchasing tickets for the Netherlands/Cuba game which counted against this attendance.

Puerto Rico 3 Dominican Republic 1

The Puerto Ricans proved the Dominicans could be beaten. Now the Dominicans have to sweep the United States and Venezuela to get to the final four. The bullpen of Hector Santiago, Joe Jimenez, Joseph Colon and Edwin Diaz quieted the Dominican bats to three hits in the last 6.2 innings. The momentum shifter may have been when right fielder Eddie Rosario threw out Jean Segura at home in the first to end a potential Dominican rally with zero runs. In the bottom of the first Puerto Rico used a couple walks and a Yadier Molina single to give them a 1-0 lead.

The Dominicans did not have the same fans in San Diego that they had in Miami. It was less of a home game for them. Nelson Cruz hit a leadoff homer in the second, but the crowd roar for the homer was not as loud as it was for his three run shot against the United States. The Dominicans play on emotion and the emotion was absent.

In the fourth Puerto Rico took the lead taking advantage of a throwing error by Adrian Beltre to allow Javier Baez to reach second. Eddie Rosario bounced a ball over the right field fence to give Puerto Rico a 2-1 lead.

The Dominicans never really threatened after the solo homer from Cruz in the second. They got runners to second but that was the extent of their threats. Yadier Molina led off the sixth with a solo shot to give Puerto Rico a little cushion that they did a much better job of protecting that the United States bullpen.

Of course the crowd was much quieter than in Miami. Tony Pena tried to motivate his team by getting tossed in the eighth. Nelson Cruz walked and with Adrian Beltre at the plate Cruz broke for second against Yadier Molina. He was thrown out to end the inning. Edwin Diaz mowed through the Dominican lineup in the ninth to pick up the save.

Only 16,637 attended the game at Petco Park in San Diego, a far cry from the 30,000 plus who showed up in Miami to support the Dominicans there.

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