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Dutch run out of steam in Classic

Netherlands' surprising ride to second round comes to end

Netherlands starter Rick VandenHurk needed 30 pitches to get out of the first inning. (Alan Diaz/AP)

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MIAMI -- For a team walking a narrow wire throughout the World Baseball Classic, one gust of wind was sufficient to knock The Netherlands off course.

That gust came in the form of a rocky start from starter Rick VandenHurk on Sunday night. VandenHurk was roughed up for three runs in two innings, and the Dutch team never recovered. The Netherlands was eliminated from the second round of pool play in a 9-3 loss to the United States at Dolphin Stadium.

"He just left his pitches kind of up," catcher Kenley Jansen said. "He left them up. If you leave them up, you're going to pay for it, especially against the United States. You cannot make a mistake with those top hitters. You have to keep it down."

Over its previous five games, the Dutch pitching staff went above and beyond, and the orange offense scratched and scraped and scored just enough to win the games it needed to win. On Sunday, it trailed by three runs after two innings and six runs after four. A valiant and entertaining effort came to an unfortunately quiet end in a game that was never close.

"That's baseball sometimes," Jansen said. "We did pretty good, and today our pitchers just were not that good. That's baseball. That's how it is."

VandenHurk was in trouble from the very start. After a game-opening popup by Jimmy Rollins, VandenHurk allowed a single and two walks before David Wright's sacrifice fly got the United States on the board. VandenHurk allowed only one run in the first but needed 30 pitches to get out of the frame.

It was more of the same in the second, VandenHurk working extremely hard for every out. Ryan Braun was caught stealing after a leadoff single and a strikeout made it two outs with no one on base. But Bryan Engelhardt's error sent Curtis Granderson all the way to second base, and Rollins made The Netherlands pay for the miscue with a two-run homer.

VandenHurk was gone after two innings, trailing 3-0 and having thrown 55 pitches. The deficit was equal to the most runs The Netherlands had scored in any World Baseball Classic game, a good indicator that a comeback would be difficult.

Yet the Dutch hitters surely didn't give in. They made USA starter Roy Oswalt battle his hardest, reaching the right-hander for five hits in four innings. Oswalt never gave in, escaping from each inning unscathed but was done after four on 70 pitches.

"We didn't clutch up at the right moments," designated hitter/catcher Sidney de Jong said. "We could have scored when we had bases loaded and two outs [in the third inning], but that's the game. It's a game of inches. I don't know if he [Oswalt] made good pitches or we didn't hit the ball right. I'll say he made good pitches."

The Netherlands finishes the Classic in fourth place in Pool 2, with two wins in six total games in the tournament -- both over the Dominican Republic.

"I think that we're not disappointed at all," said Randall Simon, the Dutch first baseman. "We are all very proud of each other. The game is a game of failure -- you're going to win, you're going to lose. But as long as you go out there and give everything you've got, the way we did in this whole tournament, ain't no better way to finish up."

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

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