Netherlands beats Cuba, reaches WBC semifinalsTOKYO - Kalian Sams’ ninth-inning sacrifice fly scored Andruw Jones with the winning run, capping a comeback from a two-run, eighth-inning deficit and lifting the Netherlands past Cuba 7-6 Monday and into the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
The Netherlands, the first European team to reach the final four, advanced along with two-time defending champion Japan. At the semifinals in San Francisco on March 17-18, they will be joined by two teams from among the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy.
“This game will go down as the biggest game in Dutch history,” Netherlands manager Hensley Muelens said. “To come back like that after being down in the eighth is amazing.”
“I can look back to two historic days before this one,” said Meulens, whose team was without starting outfielders Roger Bernadina and Wladimir Balentien and third baseman Yurendell DeCaster due to injury.
“One of them I was a part of, beating the Cubans at the 2000 Sydney Olympic Games. The other one was becoming world champions for the first time in the history of Dutch baseball in 2011, against Cuba, in Panama.
“This is the number one best game that the Dutch have ever played. Coming from behind, tying the game up and taking the game in the bottom of the ninth. This game will go down as the biggest game in Dutch history .?.?. so far.”
The Dutch had beaten Cuba 6-2 in the opening game of the second round.
“I told the guys before the game the better team will win, and tonight the better team won,” Muelens said.
“The guys were resilient and stayed together, and that’s why we won.”
“It’s true,” Cuban manager Victor Mesa said through a translator. “We cannot beat the Netherlands.”
Cuba went ahead 6-4 in the eighth when Shairon Martis walked Frederich Cepeda, Yasmany Tomas had a one-out RBI single off Leon Boyd and Eriel Sanchez hit a sacrifice fly.
Kalian Sams walked on four pitches from Norberto Gonzalez leading off the bottom half and, after a pair of strikeouts, Andrelton Simmons homered to left on a 2-1 pitch.
“I felt like I had to step up,” Simmons said. “He gave me a pitch to hit, and I was really happy I could tie the game for us.”
Jones reached on a fielding error by third baseman Yulieski Gourriel with one out in the ninth, Curt Smith singled him to second and Raciel Iglesias relieved loser Yander Guevara.
Xander Bogaerts’ single loaded the bases, Diosdany Castillo came in to pitch, and Sams flied to deep center as Jones came home.
Loek Van Mil, the fourth Dutch pitcher, got the win with a two-hit ninth.