03/11/09 12:22 AM ET
Dutch pull off second upset to advance
Come-from-behind victory in extras eliminates Dominican Republic
By Will Gonzalez / Special to MLB.com
The win was The Netherlands' second upset of the Dominican team. It eliminated the Dominicans from the Classic and it qualified the Dutch to play in Round 2 in Miami.
"Our guys came together as a team, and, miraculously, we won," said Dutch manager Rod Delmonico after the victory.
The Netherlands' miracle occurred with the help of a fielding error by first baseman Willy Aybar that allowed the Netherlands to score the game-winner in the bottom of the 11th inning.
Aybar was unable to field a sharply hit ground ball by Yurrendell de Caster, allowing Eugene Kingsale to race home from third base. Kingsale reached third when Carlos Marmol threw away an attempted pickoff while Kingsale was at first base after reaching on a single, which had scored pinch-hitter Sidney de Jong to tie the game at 1.
"It was not because we are a better team than they are," Delmonico explained, referring to the Dominicans. "They are one of the best teams in the world. Collectively, we just played hard and it happened."
The Netherlands never surrendered, even when behind in extras.
In the top of the 11th, a fielding error by Kingsale allowed Jose Reyes to score for the Dominican squad from first base, breaking a scoreless tie. Jose Bautista hit the ball to Kingsale, who dove to try to catch it, but the ball slid past him all the way to the warning track.
"Our guys were upset that they scored," said Delmonico. "The mood in the dugout was, 'Hey, it's our turn.' When they came in, everybody was up. We were ready to go to bat. It was not a mood [of] feeling sorry for themselves."
It was not easy for The Netherlands to keep its spirits high during the game. Not only did the Dominicans go ahead in the top of the 11th inning, but Dominican starter Ubaldo Jimenez dominated for the first four innings. Jimenez established a new World Baseball Classic strikeout record, fanning 10 of the 13 batters he faced in his four innings. The former record of eight strikeouts in a Classic game was set by Japanese starter Koji Uehara in the 2006 Classic. Jimenez allowed two hits, but he did not walk a batter.
The Netherlands' pitching staff did some great pitching, too -- the bullpen, especially, continued to surprise the baseball world by the way it handled the Dominicans' powerful lineup of Major League stars. Alexander Smit, Rob Cordemas, Dennis Neuman, Diegomar Markwell and Leon Boyd combined to pitch seven innings of relief, allowing only two hits and no earned runs. The quintet of relievers scattered five walks.
Dutch starter Tom Stuifbergen allowed five hits in four innings of scoreless work.
Boyd was on the mound when the Dominicans scored their go-ahead run, and it appeared that he and Kingsale were going to bear the brunt of a loss. However, Kingsale redeemed himself, Boyd finished the game with a win and the Netherlands realized a miracle.
Delmonico had to fight off tears during his postgame news conference when talking about his team.
"I am a blessed man to have had the opportunity to manage them," he said of his Netherlands players.
The Dutch move on to Round 2 of the Classic in Miami, but before it does so, it will face Puerto Rico on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. ET in Game 6 of Pool D to determine the top seed of the pool.
Will Gonzalez is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.