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Dutch in need of one more upset

Netherlands facing powerful Team USA in elimination game

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MIAMI -- They've already slain a giant. Done it twice, as a matter of fact. So what's one more time staring into the jaws?

The Netherlands will attempt to stave off elimination from the World Baseball Classic at 7:30 p.m. ET on Sunday when it faces Team USA in a win-or-go-home losers' bracket game in Pool 2. The United States was supposed to be in this round, but not in this position. The Netherlands was supposed to be in this position, but not in this round.

After defeating the Dominican Republic twice in the first round of pool play, the Dutch team surely will not be intimidated by the star-laden USA lineup. The Netherlands played Venezuela to the wire in Saturday's first game, and that club surely stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the most powerful baseball nations, as well.

"We didn't play America yet, but tomorrow is going to be a different game," said Sidney Ponson, who defeated the Dominicans in the first round and lost to Venezuela on Saturday. "Tomorrow is zero-zero everything. Tomorrow whoever we play is win or go home. We have to take it serious. It doesn't matter who we play."

The Dutch team has gotten this far with a simple, old-fashioned formula: pitch, defend, don't make mistakes. They haven't hit much, but they haven't always had to. Even in defeat on Saturday, they held a powerful lineup to three runs. Despite an absence of big-name, power pitchers, they'll try to stick to the same formula against a U.S. team that started seven former All-Stars on Saturday.

"I don't really know all these guys," reliever Rob Cordemans said after facing Venezuela. "They're big stars, but that doesn't really say anything to me. I'm just going to go with my own strengths. I don't really know what they can hit and what they can't hit. I'm just going to go with my own plan, changing speeds and hitting my spots. That's basically what it is to me."

While the crowd at Dolphin Stadium will be made up heavily of United States fans, it's safe to say that everyone who's not cheering for the red, white and blue will be pulling for the orange. The Netherlands has been the World Baseball Classic's best story thus far, and they're not ready for it to end just yet.

"We lost today," Ponson said. "It doesn't matter how you look at things. So we need to win tomorrow. That's what it comes down to."

Matthew Leach is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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