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2009 World Baseball Classic

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The 2009 World Baseball Classic is the second World Baseball Classic. It was held in March 2009, three years after the first World Baseball Classic. Japan won the Gold Medal in a repeat of 2006, with Daisuke Matsuzaka winning his second consecutive MVP after going 3-0 just as he had done in 2006.

Contents

[edit] Participants

All the teams that participated in 2006 were invited back to 2009. Those clubs were Australia, Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Panama, Puerto Rico, South Africa, South Korea, Taiwan, the USA and Venezuela.

For roster information, see 2009 World Baseball Classic (Rosters)

[edit] Schedule

[edit] Pool A - Tokyo Dome

[edit] Pool B - Foro Sol Stadium

[edit] Pool C - Rogers Centre

[edit] Pool D - Hiram Bithorn Stadium

[edit] Petco Park

[edit] Dolphin Stadium

[edit] Dodger Stadium

[edit] Game Results

[edit] March 5

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of People's Republic of China People's Republic of China 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 3 0 0 1 0 0 X 4 5 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Yu Darvish (1-0) Loss: Chenhao Li (0-1)
Home Runs
China: None
Japan: Shuichi Murata in 3rd inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Ed Hickox (USA); 1B: Jorge Perez (Cuba); 2B: Dana DeMuth (USA); 3B: Dan Toledo (Mexico)
Time of Game: 2:55
Attendance: 43,428

The biggest surprise in the Classic opener was how well China contained Japan's offense; Japan got only 5 hits, the same number China managed, but took advantage of 8 walks, a defense lapse and better power to win the game as anticipated. In the Classic 3 years ago, Japan whipped China 18-2.

Yu Darvish got the start and win for Japan; he began the Classic be getting veteran CF Lingfeng Sun on a grounder in a 1-2-3 inning.

For the second straight World Baseball Classic, Chenhao Li got the start for China against Japan. He held Japan in check for two innings. In the third, though, SS Hiroyuki Nakajima drew one of 3 walks on the day. After Nakajima stole second, LF Norichika Aoki hit one to center which Sun misplayed, letting Nakajima score and Aoki go all the way to third. DH Atsunori Inaba grounded to SS Ray Chang, who threw home to retire Aoki as Inaba was safe at first. On a full count, 3B Shuichi Murata homered to left for a 3-0 lead.

Japan loaded the bases in the 4th off Junyi Chen but Aoki failed to deliver. Darvish exited after four hitless, scoreless innings, having fanned three.

Japan put another scoring drive together in the 6th. CF Kosuke Fukudome drew a walk from Junyi Chen, who was then replaced by Guoqiang Sun. Fukudome walked in all four of his plate appearances this game. Sun threw a wild pitch, then walked #8 hitter/C Kenji Johjima. 2B Akinori Iwamura struck out, then RF Ichiro Suzuki hit into a force out at second, putting men on the corners. A balk by Sun scored Fukudome with the game's final run, making it 4-0.

[edit] March 6

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 6 0 0 0 1 2 0 0 X 9 10 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Hyun-jin Ryu (1-0) Loss: Chen-Chang Lee (0-1)
Home Runs
Taiwan: None
South Korea: Jin-young Lee in 1st inning, 4 RBI; Keun-woo Jeong in 6th inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Andy Fletcher (USA); 1B: Daniel Toledo (Mexico); 2B: Ed Hickox (USA); 3B: Paul Hyham (Australia)
Time of Game: 2:48
Attendance: 18,104

The 2008 Olympic Gold Medalists in baseball got to work quickly in an expected rout of Taiwan. It was the weakest Taiwan squad in a long time as two of the four CPBL teams banned their players from participating, top prospect Yi-Jie Hsiao was injured shortly before the event and Major Leaguers Hong-Chih Kuo and Chin-Lung Hu opted not to play.

In the bottom of the first, CF Jong-wook Lee drew a 5-pitch walk from Cleveland Indians signee Chen-Chang Lee, who then plunked 3B Keun-woo Jeong. Lee's control problems continued as he walked LF Hyun-soo Kim on five pitches. He had now thrown only 2 strikes on his first 11 pitches. After going behind 2-0 on 1B Tae-kyun Kim, Lee served up a 2-run single. 3B Dae-ho Lee hit a long fly that was caught in left field. DH Shin-soo Choo drew the third walk of the inning to load the bases. RF Jin-young Lee then smashed one into the right field seats for a grand slam and 6-0 lead. Kai-Wen Cheng relieved Chen-Chang Lee, who had retired only one of 7 batters faced.

Hyun-jin Ryu faced the minimum number of batters in the first 9 innings and left after CF Che-Hsuan Lin opened the 4th with a single for Taiwan. He was promptly picked off by reliever Jung Bong. In the 5th, South Korea added some unneeded insurance. Hyun-soo Kim hit a one-out double off of Yu-Cheng Liao and Tae-kyun Kim walked. Dae-ho Lee then singled home a run to make it 7-0.

In the bottom of the 6th, Jong-wook Lee hit a 2-out single off of Po-Yu Lin and Jeong followed with a 2-run shot to right for a 9-0 Korean edge. In the 8th, Taiwan finally sent more than 3 batters to the plate in an inning, but they would not score all day long.

The lone bright spot for Taiwan was CF Che-Hsuan Lin, who went 2 for 3 with a walk. Overall, Hyun-jin Ryu, Jung Bong, Seung-ho Lee and Tae-hoon Lim combined on a 5-hit, 4-walk gem; 5 double plays erased the majority of the Taiwan batters who reached base.

[edit] March 7

[edit] Pool A

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 7 0
Flag of People's Republic of China People's Republic of China 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 X 4 9 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jiangang Lu (1-0) Loss: Yueh-Ping Lin (0-1) Save: Kun Chen (1)
Home Runs
Taiwan: None
China: Ray Chang in 8th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Dana DeMuth (USA); 1B: Paul Hyham (Australia); 2B: Andy Fletcher (USA); 3B: Jorge Perez (Cuba)
Time of Game: 2:51
Attendance: 12,890

After toppling Taiwan in a major upset in the 2008 Olympics, China showed it was no fluke by beating a weaker Taiwan entry to eliminate their rivals before 12 of the countries in the Classic had played a game.

Taiwan's leadoff man again tried to be a one-man show, as CF Che-Hsuan Lin drew a walk from Jiangang Lu on four pitches to open things, but he was thrown out stealing by Zhenwang Zhang to end the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, DH Fenglian Hou, a hero of the Olympics, hit a one-out single against Yueh-Ping Lin. SS Ray Chang singled Hou to third and RF Fei Feng hit a sacrifice fly to center for a 1-0 lead.

In the 4th, RF Wei-Chu Lin doubled with two outs for Taiwan but was stranded. In the fifth, 1B Fujia Chu got an infield hit against Yueh-Ping Lin. Chu stole second and moved to third on a ground out. With two away, CF Lingfeng Sun walked to put men on the corners. Manager Chih-Hsien Yeh removed Lin and brought in reliever Sung-Wei Tseng, a Cleveland Indians farmhand. Hou promptly delivered a RBI single to put China ahead 3-0. Chang then doubled in Sun for a 3-0 lead.

Chinese ace Lu was yanked with one out in the 6th after back-to-back singles by Che-Hsuan Lin and 2B Chih-Hsien Chiang, both of whom played in the Boston Red Sox chain in 2008 (Chiang being released after that season). Tao Bu relieved and got Wei-Chu Lin to hit into a force out at second. With men on the corners, cleanup hitter/1B Cheng-Min Peng singled in Che-Hsuan Lin to close the gap to 3-1 but 3B Yi-Chuan Lin popped out.

Taiwan got two on in the 7th but failed to score. Chang opened the 8th with a homer to left off recent Detroit Tigers signee Fu-Te Ni to make it 4-1 China. In the 9th, Taiwan staged a last rally against Kun Chen. LF Wu-Hsiung Pan singled with one out and PH Chih-Yao Chan singled as well to put the tying run at the plate in the form of amateur SS Han Lin. Lin grounded back to the mound, advancing both runners, for out number two. That brought up Taiwan star Che-Hsuan Lin, who got a 1-1 count before grounding out to Chang to end the game.

Wu-Hsiung Pan reached base in 3 of 4 plate appearances for Taiwan. For China, Hou and Chang both were 3 for 4 with two runs produced.

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 3 5 0 1 2 2 1 14 14 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 4 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-0) Loss: Kwang-hyun Kim (0-1)
Home Runs
Japan: Shuichi Murata in 2nd inning, 3 RBI; Kenji Johjima in 6th inning, 2 RBI
South Korea: Tae-kyun Kim in 1st inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Ed Hickox (USA); 1B: Jorge Perez (Cuba); 2B: Andy Fletcher (USA); 3B: Daniel Toledo (Mexico)
Time of Game: 2:48
Attendance: 45,640

This one was far more of a mismatch than anticipated. South Korea had beaten Japan in 2 of 3 matches in the 2006 World Baseball Classic and in both of their games in the 2008 Olympics. Furthermore, starting pitcher Kwang-hyun Kim had owned Japanese teams since the 2007 Asia Series. This time, Japan was unstoppable, knocking Kim out in the 2nd inning, scoring in 6 of 7 innings and forcing the first usage of the mercy rule of the tournament. Seven of the nine Japanese position players scored or drove in multiple runs.

Japan started quickly (and never stopped). RF Ichiro Suzuki opened the contest with a single, then SS Hiroyuki Nakajima singled as well. LF Norichika Aoki singled home Suzuki for a 1-0 lead. 3B Shuichi Murata and DH Michihiro Ogasawara both went down on strikes, but 1B Seiichi Uchikawa smacked a 2-run double for a 3-0 lead. Kim fanned CF Kosuke Fukudome to close the top of the first, his third K of the inning.

In the bottom of the second, South Korea got as close as they would. 2B Keun-woo Jeong hit a one-out single against Daisuke Matsuzaka. LF Hyun-soo Kim singled but was thrown out by Suzuki trying to stretch it to a double; Jeong took third on the play. 1B Tae-kyun Kim went deep to close the gap to 3-2. South Korea had gotten hits by three of their first four batters, but over the next 6 innings, they were held to one hit (a second-inning single by Jin-young Lee) by Matsuzaka, Shunsuke Watanabe, Toshiya Sugiuchi and Minoru Iwata.

In the meantime, Japan was running up the lead. C Kenji Johjima opened the second with a single. 2B Akinori Iwamura coaxed a walk. Suzuki laid down a bunt single, then Kim walked Nakajima to force home Johjima. Aoki hit into a run-scoring force out for a 5-2 lead. Murata socked a 3-run homer, his second of the Classic, to make it 8-2. Kim was yanked in favor of Hyun-wook Jong, who got the next two batters to escape the inning.

Jong and Won-sam Jang combined on a scoreless third, the lone inning in which Japan's offense was contained successfully. In the 4th, Suzuki singled and stole second base. Nakajima grounded to 3B Dae-ho Lee, whose throwing error scored Suzuki. Japan loaded the bases later in the inning but Fukudome was retired to end the frame.

In the fifth, Johjima singled against Jang and Iwamura walked. Suzuki struck out, but Nakajima doubled to left to score Johjima and Aoki's sacrifice fly brought home Iwamura. Japan now led 11-2. In the sixth, Fukudome singled with one out against Jae-woo Lee and took second on a wild pitch. Johjima then delivered a homer to left to make it 13-2.

Nakajima began the 7th with a double. Aoki struck out, but a wild pitch on strike three enabled him to take first as Nakajima moved to third. Murata popped out, then Ogasawara grounded in Nakajima. South Korea needed three runs in the bottom of the 7th to prevent the mercy rule from coming into play. Dae-ho Lee opened with a walk from Iwata, then DH Shin-soo Choo was hit by a pitch. PH Taek-keun Lee lined out to Iwamura. C Min-ho Kang flew out and PH Bum-ho Lee struck out on 3 pitches.

Japan became the first team to clinch a trip to round two. Key performers included Suzuki (3 for 5, 3 R), Nakajima (3 for 4, BB, 2 R, 2 RBI), Aoki (2 R, 3 RBI), Murata (2 for 4, BB, R, 3 RBI) and Johjima (3 for 4, 3 R, 2 RBI). Cleanup man Ogasawara was their lone starter without a walk or hit.

[edit] Pool C

ticket from the Toronto round of the Classic
at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Canada Canada 1 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 1 5 7 1
Flag of United States United States 0 1 0 3 0 2 0 0 - 6 9 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: LaTroy Hawkins (1-0) Loss: Mike Johnson (0-1) Save: J.J. Putz (1)
Home Runs
Canada: Joey Votto in 3rd inning, 1 RBI; Russell Martin in 7th inning, 1 RBI
USA: Kevin Youkilis in 4th inning, 1 RBI; Brian McCann in 4th inning, 2 RBI; Adam Dunn in 6th inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Marvin Hudson (USA); 1B: Minoru Nakamura (Japan); 2B: Dan Iassogna (USA); 3B: Masami Yoshikawa (Japan)
Time of Game: 2:55
Attendance: 42,314

The homers came fast and furious, as five players went deep for a combined 7 RBI in a 6-5 duel between two North American entries.

Team Canada, playing host, sent seven batters to the plate in the first inning against Jake Peavy but only scored one time. C Russell Martin drew a one-out walk and DH Joey Votto singled him to third. 1B Justin Morneau grounded to first, scoring Martin. CF Jason Bay walked and DH Matt Stairs was hit by a pitch to load the bases for 3B Mark Teahen. Peavy threw 3 fastballs in a row past Teahen to escape the jam.

In the bottom of the second, Team Canada veteran Mike Johnson walked 1B Kevin Youkilis and RF Adam Dunn to start the inning. LF Ryan Braun hit into a force at second to put men on the corners, then C Brian McCann tied the contest with a sacrifice fly. CF Shane Victorino hit a hard grounder to first and Morneau deflected the ball into right field. Braun moved to third on the play but 2B Dustin Pedroia grounded out to end that threat.

Votto homered with one out in the third to give the home team a 2-1 advantage but Youkilis countered with a solo shot of his own in the bottom of the 4th to tie it. Johnson walked Dunn but struck out Braun. McCann then homered to right field for a 4-2 lead for the USA.

In the sixth, Canada rallied against Joel Hanrahan. Bay drew a walk then Stairs lined out. Teahen doubled to right to put two men in scoring position. LF Nick Weglarz grounded out to Hanrahan. Hanrahan then threw a wild pitch, scoring Bay and making it a one-run game again.

In the bottom of the sixth, Youkilis drew a walk from Chris Begg and Dunn followed with the game's 4th home run to make it 6-3 US; Youkilis scored his 3rd run of the game on the play. Canada staged a rally against Scot Shields in the 7th. Martin homered with one out to close the gap to 6-4. Votto singled. Shields recovered to fan Morneau, but Bay walked to put the tying run aboard. RF Matt Stairs, who had first played for Team Canada 22 years earlier, struck out on a 2-2 count to blow that bid.

Team Canada plays Team USA on March 7, 2009.

In the bottom of the 7th, the US tried to add insurance. Pedroia doubled and SS Jimmy Rollins hit an infield single. Phillippe Aumont threw a wild pitch to put both runners in scoring position with none out. DH Chipper Jones walked to load the bases. Aumont recovered to get 3B David Wright on a liner and fan both Youkilis and backup CF Curtis Granderson.

The US again staged a rally in the bottom of the 8th. McCann drew a one-out walk from Dave Davidson and Victorino singled. After a fly out by Pedroia, Rollins reached on an error by Canada SS Chris Barnwell. With the bases loaded, Davidson got Chipper Jones swinging on a 2-2 offering.

In the top of the 9th, manager Davey Johnson summoned J.J. Putz to close the game. With one out, Martin doubled. Votto doubled to right to make it 6-5 as Martin scored. Morneau grounded out. Brett Lawrie pinch-ran for Votto. Putz got ahead of Bay 0-2, but then threw 3 balls in a row. Bay fouled off two straight 95-mph fastballs, then flew out to Victorino in right.

Martin scored 3 runs for Canada and Youkilis did the same for the US. Votto went 4 for 5 with a double, homer, run and 2 RBI, looking as sharp as he had for Canada in the 2005 Baseball World Cup, when he made the All-Tournament team.


at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Italy Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 1
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 0 0 4 0 1 2 - 7 11 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Felix Hernandez (1-0) Loss: Jason Grilli (0-1)
Home Runs
Italy: None
Venezuela: Carlos Guillen in 5th inning, 1 RBI; Melvin Mora in 7th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Jerry Meals (USA); 1B: Masami Yoshikawa (Japan); 2B: Dan Iassogna (USA); 3B: Carlos Rey, Puerto Rico
Time of Game: 3:00
Attendance: 13,272

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch was the Toronto Raptors' center Andrea Bargnani. [1]

Italy gave Carlos Silva headaches for 4 innings, but never broke through to score. In the first, LF Frank Catalanotto and DH Val Pascucci singled with two out, but CF Chris Denorfia failed to drive them in. In the second, 3B Mike Costanzo doubled but was erased on a fielder's choice hit into by C Vinny Rottino. RF Mario Chiarini doubled to put two men in scoring position but SS Nick Punto grounded out to end the inning.

In the 4th, Costanzo walked and 1B Giuseppe Mazzanti delivered a one-out single but Rottino struck out and Chiarini flew out. Italy would have much less success against relievers Felix Hernandez and Orber Moreno, with only two hits and no runs over the final five innings.

Mark DiFelice tossed scoreless ball for four innings as Italy's starter before giving way to Jason Grilli. Grilli was greeted by a solo homer from DH Carlos Guillen on his second pitch of the day. 2B José López doubled and SS Cesar Izturis drew a one-out walk. Lenny DiNardo replaced Grilli and gave up an infield single to CF Endy Chavez. DiNardo walked 3B Melvin Mora to force home one run, then RF Bobby Abreu singled in two more for a 4-0 cushion before native Italian Alessandro Maestri fared better than the two Italian-Americans, getting cleanup man Miguel Cabrera and #5 hitter Magglio Ordonez to end the inning.

Team Italy throws to Team Venezuela on March 7, 2009

After a scoreless frame by Maestri in the 6th, Italy turned to another Italian-American, Cody Cillo, and Venezuela greeted him fondly with a solo homer by Mora. In the 8th, López doubled against B.J. LaMura, the 6th Italian hurler. C Ramon Hernandez doubled as well to make it 6-0. Mora singled with two out for a 7-0 lead.

Overall, the native Italians clearly outshadowed the imports, going 3 for 10 (the imports were 5 for 24) at the plate and tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings (to 7 runs in 6 1/3 for the Italian-Americans).

Mora (2 for 4, R, 3 RBI) and López (3 for 3, 2 2B, BB, 2 R) led Venezuela's offense.

[edit] Pool D

at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 3 0
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 2 8 3
Pitchers of Record
Win: Sidney Ponson (1-0) Loss: Edinson Volquez (0-1) Save: Leon Boyd (1)
Home Runs
Netherlands: None
Dominican Republic: Miguel Tejada in 4th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Larry Vanover (USA); 1B: Corrie Davis (Canada); 2B: Eric Cooper (USA); 3B: Stéphane DuPont (Canada)
Time of Game: 3:01
Attendance: 9,335

Despite two wins over Cuba in the last 10 years (the 2000 Olympics and 2007 Baseball World Cup) and the only no-hitter of the first World Baseball Classic, most Americans were unaware of the strong baseball tradition in the Netherlands. That might have gotten a strong push for change from their win over the highly-favored All-Star-laden Dominicans in this game.

Dutch national team veteran Eugène Kingsale opened the game with a bunt single against Edinson Volquez. 2B Sharlon Schoop laid down a bunt as well, but C Miguel Olivo's throw to first went wide, putting two men on; Olivo was charged with an error though the scorer had initially ruled it a hit. 1B Randall Simon flew out and CF Greg Halman, the best Dutch prospect in at least a decade, went down on strikes for the first of four times today. 3B Yurendell de Caster drew a walk to load the bases. A wild pitch by Volquez brought home Kingsale for a 1-0 lead by the Orange. DH Sharnol Adriana singled in Schoop but a throwing error from Hanley Ramirez on the play scored de Caster as well to put the Dutch squad ahead 3-0. They wouldn't score again but their pitchers made it hold up.

Sidney Ponson, making his long-awaited Dutch team debut at age 33, struggled out of jams in the first two innings, allowing 2 baserunners each time. 3B Miguel Tejada homered to start the Dominican 4th to close the gap to 3-1. The Dominicans rallied again in the 5th as C Olivo singled and CF Willy Taveras walked. Alexander Smit was summoned to relieve Ponson, who had only allowed one run on 8 baserunners over 4 innings before his exit. 2B Robinson Cano greeted Smit with a bunt single to load the bases. A sacrifice fly by Hanley Ramirez made it a 3-2 contest; Taveras took third on the play. A passed ball by C Kenley Jansen let Cano take second; Taveras hesitated in deciding whether to break for home and wasn't able to score due to that. An intentional walk to DH David Ortiz loaded the bases, giving the Dominicans one of their best chances. Rob Cordemans, the 5-time Hoofdklasse Pitcher of the Year and 4-time Olympian, was summoned to rescue his club. Tejada hit a ground ball to third base, where de Caster made the put-out, then fired to first to retire Tejada to escape the jam.

1B Willy Aybar doubled with one out in the 6th, but Cordemans retired LF Nelson Cruz and Olivo to maintain the one-run margin. In the 7th, Ramirez singled with one away and Ortiz drew a walk but Cordemans remained in control, getting Tejada on a fly.

Rod Delmonico replaced Cordemans with another 2008 Olympian, Juan Carlos Sulbaran, to begin the 8th inning. Aybar walked with one out but Cruz flew out, as did PH Moises Alou. The Netherlands tried to tack on some insurance in the 9th when 1B Randall Simon got plunked by Carlos Marmol. Mike Duursma pinch-ran; during a pick-off attempt, 1B Fernando Tatis was charged with interference, giving Duursma second base. Marmol struck out Halman, de Caster and Adriana to end the inning.

Leon Boyd became the 5th Dutch hurler when he relieved Sulbaran in the bottom of the 9th. He started off by walking speedy CF Willy Taveras. Cano grounded Taveras over. Taveras tried to steal third, but was gunned down by Jansen. Hanley Ramirez drew a full count walk from Boyd. Jose Bautista pinch-hit for Ortiz. He fouled off Boyd's first offering, then took strike two. After a ball, Ramirez broke off for second base on a steal attempt but Bautista took a called strike three to end the game.


at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Panama Panama 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 2
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 0 1 0 1 1 1 3 0 - 7 13 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Javier Vazquez (1-0) Loss: Bruce Chen (0-1)
Home Runs
Panama: None
Puerto Rico: Carlos Delgado in 2nd inning, 1 RBI; Ivan Rodriguez in 4th inning, 1 RBI; Ivan Rodriguez in 7th inning, 3 RBI
Umpires
HP: Laz Diaz (USA); 1B: Stéphane DuPont (Canada); 2B: Eric Cooper (USA); 3B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico)
Time of Game: 2:57
Attendance: 17,348

The hosts got an easy win in their debut at Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Panama got as close as they would to scoring in the first, when leadoff man Luis Durango walked, stole second and took third on a grounder, but was stranded when Ruben Rivera struck out and Carlos Lee popped up. In the bottom of the second, Puerto Rican 1B Carlos Delgado homered to right off of Bruce Chen, the first of 3 hits by the veteran slugger.

Panama got two men on in the third on hits by Durango and 2B Angel Chavez but Rivera lined into a double play. In the fourth, C Ivan Rodriguez homered against Chen for a 2-0 lead. Puerto Rico took advantage of botched Panamanian defense in the 5th. SS Mike Aviles reached on a throwing error by his counterpart, Ruben Tejada. A pick-off attempt went awry as 1B Julio Zuleta made an error in failing to catch the throw, sending Aviles to third. 3B Ramon Vazquez then delivered a sacrifice fly.

Panama got another opportunity in the 6th when Durango and Rivera were walked by Nelson Figueroa. With one out, Lee grounded both runners over but 1B Julio Zuleta flew out to waste another scoring chance. Rodriguez and DH Geovany Soto hit back-to-back doubles against Eliecer Navarro in the bottom of the fiftth to make it 4-0.

In the bottom of the 7th, Delgado doubled against Angel Antonio Cuan. RF Alex Rios hit a foul pop, on which Panama C Carlos Ruiz tripped over his mask, forcing him to leave the game. Rios then drew a walk from reliever Paolo Espino. Rodriguez then hit his second jack of the game, a 3-run shot for a 7-0 cushion.

After 4 hits off starter Vazquez, Panama was held to one hit in 4 2/3 IP by relievers Figueroa, Saul Rivera and Carlos Gutierrez. The only bright spot was Durango, who reached in 3 of 4 plate appearances. For Puerto Rico, the stars were clearly old-timers Rodriguez (4 for 4, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2B, 2 HR) and Delgado (3 for 4, 2 R, RBI, 2B, HR).

[edit] March 8

[edit] Pool A

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Flag of People's Republic of China People's Republic of China 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
Flag of South Korea South Korea 2 0 0 2 5 5 X 14 10 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Suk-min Yoon (1-0) Loss: Guoqiang Sun (0-1)
Home Runs
China: None
South Korea: Bum-ho Lee in 4th inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Andy Fletcher (USA); 1B: Daniel Toledo (Mexico); 2B: Dana DeMuth (USA); 3B: Paul Hyham (Australia)
Time of Game: 2:13
Attendance: 12,571

Over half the South Korean batters reached base as they obliterated China to eliminate them from the competition and advance to the second round.

Suk-min Yoon allowed only two hits and no walks in six scoreless innings as the 2008 KBO ERA leader was on his mark today. Tae-hyon Chong and Chang-yong Lim retired the last three batters to lock up the win.

On offense, South Korea wasted no time. CF Jong-wook Lee drew a 4-pitch walk from Guoqiang Sun, stole second and took third on a wild pitch. 2B Keun-woo Jeong walked as well. LF Hyun-soo Kim singled in one run, then 1B Tae-kyun Kim ground in another for a 2-0 lead.

Sun only allowed one baserunner in the 2nd and 3rd innings combined, but faded in the 4th. He plunked DH Shin-soo Choo with one out, then served up a gopher ball to 3B Bum-ho Lee. In the 5th, Tao Bu ran into all kinds of trouble. He gave up a leadoff single to Hyun-soo Kim then walked Tae-kyun Kim. RF Jin-young Lee singled home Hyun-soo Kim for a 5-0 score. Choo grounded to 1B Fujia Chu, whose error let Tae-kyun Kim come home. Dawei Zhu relieved Bu but was little better. He plunked Bum-ho Lee with his first pitch, then walked C Kyung-wan Park on four pitches (two in the dirt) to force home Jin-young Lee and make it 7-0. SS Ki-hyuk Park grounded to 2B Guangbiao Liu, who made a run-scoring error. Jong-wook Lee hit a sacrifice fly to give South Korea 5 runs on the inning. Jeong almost singled in another but RF Fei Feng threw out Kyung-wan Park at home (with SS Ray Chang on the relay).

After sending 10 batters to the plate in the 5th, South Korea sent nine up in the 6th. Tae-kyun Kim opened with a single off New York Yankees signee Kai Liu. PH Taek-keun Lee became the third Korean batter hit by a pitch. PH Dae-ho Lee doubled home one run to make it 10-0. A sacrifice fly by Bum-ho Lee drove in another. PH Min-ho Kang drew a walk. Ki-hyuk Park then delivered a 2-run triple for a 13-0 score. Weiliang Li came in to pitch and was greeted by a RBI single from Jong-wook Lee before he retired the next two batters.

11 different South Koreans scored. Both Bum-ho Lee and Ki-hyuk Park drove home 3 runs.


[edit] Pool B

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Africa South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 4 0
Flag of Cuba Cuba 1 2 2 0 2 1 0 0 X 8 13 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Norge Vera (1-0) Loss: Barry Armitage (0-1)
Home Runs
South Africa: None
Cuba: Frederich Cepeda in 1st inning, 1 RBI; Alfredo Despaigne in 2nd inning, 2 RBI; Frederich Cepeda in 3rd inning, 1 RBI; Héctor Olivera Jr. in 5th inning, 1 RBI; Yulieski Gourriel in 5th inning, 1 RBI; Yohenis Céspedes in 6th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Ted Barrett (USA); 1B: Seok-hwan Oh (South Korea); 2B: Lance Barksdale (USA); 3B: Edgar Estivison (Panama)
Time of Game: 2:37
Attendance: ???

Cuba set a new World Baseball Classic record for homers in a game by socking six, all off former minor leaguers. They also drew 7 walks while only striking out once. Their pitchers fanned 11 while walking only one and giving up 4 hits.

Norge Vera set the pace by getting all 3 batters in the top of the first; he would allow 2 hits in six shutout innings. In the bottom of the first, LF Frederich Cepeda teed off with two outs against Barry Armitage, a former AA hurler, for the first of Cuba's homers.

In the second, 1B Alexander Mayeta singled and RF Alfredo Despaigne followed with a homer to right. Two of the next three Cuban batters reached, but a double play ball and a pick-off got South Africa out of the inning without further damage. In the third, 2B Héctor Olivera Jr. walked and stole second to start the inning. DH Michel Enríquez singled home Olivera to make it 4-0, but Michel was out trying to stretch it into a double. The move cost Cuba a run as Cepeda followed with his second homer. Armitage would leave with 8 hits and 5 runs allowed in 3 innings.

South Africa finally got their first baserunner in the 4th when 3B Jonathan Phillips drew a 2-out walk from Vera. In the bottom of the 4th, Olivera and 3B Yulieski Gourriel both went yard off of Donavon Hendricks. In the sixth, CF Yohenis Céspedes hit Cuba's 6th and last homer, a solo shot off of Hendricks. Gavin Jeffries and Jacobus Mostert walked four Cubans over the final 2 2/3 innings but gave up no more runs.

Norberto González and Ismel Jiménez each tossed a scoreless, hitless inning in relief of Vera. In the 9th, Vladimir García came in to try to wrap up the shutout. With one out, he gave up a single to SS Anthony Phillips. CF Martin Gordon grounded to Olivera, who threw to SS Luis Miguel Navas for the force, but the relay to first was not in time to get Gordon. A wild pitch advanced Gordon to second, then Jonathan Phillips singled to center to drive in South Africa's only run as they evaded a shutout.

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 R H E
Flag of Australia Australia 3 1 0 0 3 3 4 3 17 22 2
Flag of Mexico Mexico 5 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 7 12 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Damian Moss (1-0) Loss: Ricardo Rincon (0-1)
Home Runs
Australia:Luke Hughes in 1st inning, 2 RBI; Chris Snelling in 1st inning, 1 RBI; Chris Snelling in 7th inning, 1 RBI; Ben Risinger in 8th inning, 3 RBI
Mexico: Jorge Vázquez in 1st inning, 4 RBI; Alfredo Amezaga in 2nd inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Greg Gibson (USA); 1B: Seung-hoon Moon (South Korea); 2B: Lance Barksdale (USA); 3B: Seok-hwan Oh (South Korea)
Time of Game: 3:43
Attendance: 20,831

Australia and Mexico had the highest-scoring game yet in this Classic, as their 24 combined runs topped the 21 scored today in the US-Venezuela slugfest. Six Australians finished with multiple hits in their best offensive show since their rout of Thailand in the 2007 Baseball World Cup.

The Aussies started strong off Oliver Perez. CF Trent Oeltjen singled and 3B Luke Hughes and RF Chris Snelling followed with back-to-back jacks for a 3-0 lead. Craig Anderson could not maintain the lead, though. He allowed a leadoff hit to CF Alfredo Amezaga. After an out and a wild pitch, 1B Adrián González grounded to 2B Daniel Berg, whose throwing error cut the gap to 3-1. 3B Jorge Cantú doubled, then Anderson walked LF Scott Hairston. DH Jorge Vázquez then smashed an Anderson offering over the wall in left field to put the home team up 5-3.

SS Brad Harman opened the second with a single and C Andrew Graham followed with one of the same. After Berg fanned, Oeltjen singled to load the bags. Hughes whiffed. Snelling singled in Harman to make it 5-4, but Perez got his 5th K, setting down LF Justin Huber to avoid further damage. In the bottom of the second, Amezaga homered to left and RF Jerry Hairston Jr. doubled. Having retired only 3 of 11 batters, Anderson was yanked by manager Jon Deeble in favor of Paul Mildren.

Mildren allowed Mexico's last run in the bottom of the third. Scott Hairston singled and Vázquez reached on a force out. With two away, C Rod Barajas drew a walk. SS Augie Ojeda doubled in Vázquez to put Mexico ahead 7-4. After that, their day fell to pieces.

Francisco Campos, after scoreless work in the 3rd and 4th, faded in the fifth. DH Brett Roneberg singled with one out and Harman singled as well. Graham singled home Roneberg to make it 7-5. PH James Beresford hit a sacrifice fly to close it to 7-6. Oeltjen singled. Manager Vinny Castilla summoned veteran reliever Rafael Diaz. Diaz threw a wild pitch, then served up a RBI single to Hughes before escaping the inning with Mexico still tied.

Diaz fanned the first two batters in the 6th but was replaced by Ricardo Rincon. Rincon gave up a hit to Roneberg, then was relieved by Pablo Ortega. Ortega plunked Harman, then gave up a run-scoring single to Graham to give Australia the lead. Beresford singled in Harman. A desperate Vinny Castilla turned to his 4th pitcher of the inning, David Cortes. Oeltjen greeted Cortes with a RBI single to give Australia a 10-7 lead.

In the 7th, Australia padded their lead when Snelling led off with his second homer, off Cortes. Huber walked and Risinger singled. Dennys Reyes became the 7th Mexican hurler but had as much trouble as those who preceded him. Roneberg bunted both runners over. Harman singled in one run. Graham hit into a 2-run error by Edgar González.

Australia kept on pounding away in the 8th inning. Snelling drew a one-out walk from Reyes and Francisco Rodriguez was summoned as Mexico's 8th moundsman. Rodriguez began by plunking Huber, then tossed a 3-run gopher ball to Risinger to make it 17-7. When Mexico failed to score in the bottom of the 8th, the game ended due to the mercy rule.

Liam Hendriks (1 1/3 IP), Damian Moss (1 2/3 IP) and Rich Thompson (2 IP) provided scoreless relief over the final 5 innings for the Green and Gold.

Among Australia's big bats were Oeltjen (4 for 5, BB, R, RBI), Hughes (2 for 6, R, 3 RBI), Snelling (3 for 5, BB, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR), Risinger (2 for 5, BB, 2 R, 3 RBI), Roneberg (3 for 4, 2 R), Harman (3 for 5, HBP, 4 R) and Graham (4 for 6, 2 R, 3 RBI).

[edit] Pool C

at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 2 0 8 1 3 1 15 16 0
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 1 2 0 2 0 0 1 6 13 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Matt Lindstrom (1-0) Loss: Victor Zambrano (0-1)
Home Runs
USA: Kevin Youkilis in 6th inning, 2 RBI; Adam Dunn in 7th inning, 1 RBI; Ryan Braun in 9th inning, 1 RBI
Venezuela: Carlos Guillen in 6th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Dan Iassogna (USA); 1B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); 2B: Marvin Hudson (USA); 3B: Minoru Nakamura (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:39
Attendance: 13,094

This one was a close contest except for an explosive 6th inning in which the United States scored 8 runs. Through two and a half innings, both Roy Oswalt and Armando Galarraga tossed goose eggs. In the bottom of the third, Venezuela got to Oswalt on three straight one-out singles, delivered by SS Marco Scútaro, CF Gregor Blanco and 3B Melvin Mora.

The US answered in the top of the 4th. 1B Kevin Youkilis and RF Adam Dunn singled and LF Mark DeRosa tripled down the right field line with two out to bring them in. In the bottom of the fourth, Venezuela retook the lead. DH Carlos Guillen took a one-out walk from Oswalt and 2B José López doubled. C Ramon Hernandez grounded home Guillen. After a walk to Scútaro, Blanco singled to make it 3-2, knocking Oswalt from the game.

The Americans score three runners

After a scoreless 5th on both sides, the fireworks took place in the sixth. Victor Zambrano seemingly started okay, fanning Youkilis, but a wild pitch on strike three put Youkilis on first. DH David Wright singled and Dunn walked to load the bases. Carlos Vasquez was summoned to relieve Zambrano but promptly served up a 3-run double to C Chris Iannetta. After a strikeout of CF Curtis Granderson, Yoel Hernandez relieved Vasquez. He walked SS Derek Jeter, then gave up a 2-run double to 2B Dustin Pedroia. PH Ryan Braun grounded the runner over. Youkilis homered to left-center in his second at-bat of the inning to cap a 8-run frame. Ivan Blanco replaced Hernandez and Venezuela's 4th pitcher of the inning got Wright to end the carnage.

In the bottom of the 6th, Venezuela tried to rally from their 10-3 deficit. Guillen greeted reliever Brad Ziegler with a solo homer, then López doubled yet again, his 4th in two games. Hernandez singled to put runners on the corners with no outs. Scútaro hit into a run-scoring double play to make it 10-5 and Blanco grounded out to end the inning.

Dunn opened the 7th with a gigantic home run off of Blanco for a 11-5 lead. In the 8th, Braun drew a leadoff walk from Jan Granado. Youkilis hit into a force out. Wright singled Youkilis to third, then Dunn drew a walk. Victor Moreno came in to pitch (Venezuela's 7th pitcher; all allowed runs) and got DeRosa on a sacrifice fly that made it 12-5. Iannetta singled in Wright and Granderson singled home PR Shane Victorino to put the US up by 9. A 5th double of the Series by López was wasted in the 8th.

In the 9th, Braun socked a solo shot off Moreno to make it 15-5. In the bottom of the 9th, Blanco tripled off Heath Bell and scored on a single by Mora but Venezuela got no closer.

Magglio Ordonez scores a run for Venezuela

Stars for the US included Youkilis (2 for 6, 4 R, 2 RBI following 3 runs in the opener), Dunn (2 for 3, 2 BB, 3 R, RBI) and Iannetta (2 for 3, 2 BB, R, 4 RBI). For Venezuela, Blanco (3 for 5, R, RBI) and López (3 doubles in 4 AB, 2 R) led the charge. Heart-of-the-order hitters struggled on both sides as US #3 Chipper Jones went 0 for 3, Venezuelan cleanup man Miguel Cabrera was 0 for 5 with 3 K and #5 hitter for Venezuela Magglio Ordóñez was 0 for 4.

[edit] Pool D

at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Panama Panama 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 3 2 0 1 0 3 X 9 8 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Johnny Cueto (1-0) Loss: Ramiro Mendoza (0-1)
Home Runs
Panama: None
Dominican Republic: Miguel Olivo in 4th inning, 2 RBI; Nelson Cruz in 6th inning, 1 RBI; Miguel Olivo in 8th inning, 3 RBI
Umpires
HP: Eric Cooper (USA); 1B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico); 2B: Larry Vanover (USA); 3B: Corrie Davis (Canada)
Time of Game: 2:46
Attendance: 9,221

Johnny Cueto and four relievers combined to fan 10 Panamanian batters to eliminate the central American nation from the event. Panama started strong with two men reaching base in the first but Cueto escaped without allowing a run. 3B Javier Castillo opened the second with a double and moved to third on a grounder but was stranded.

Happy Dominican players celebrate the win over Panama

Ramiro Mendoza tossed two perfect innings for Panama to start things off, but faded in the third. RF Jose Guillen hit a grounder to SS Rubén Tejada, whose throwing error allowed Guillen to reach safely. LF Nelson Cruz singled. C Miguel Olivo bunted the runners over. Mendoza intentionally walked SS Jose Reyes. CF Willy Taveras grounded to Castillo, who made Panama's second error of the inning, scoring one run. 1B Fernando Tatis grounded back to Mendoza, who threw to first for the out as Cruz scored. DH David Ortiz singled to right, plating Reyes. Taveras also tried to score but was gunned down by RF Concepción Rodríguez.

In the 4th inning, 2B Robinson Cano singled and Olivo homered with two outs to make it 5-0. Two innings later, Cruz homered off Manuel Corpas for a 6-run lead. In the 8th, Cano drew a walk from Yeliar Castro and advanced on a single by PH Jose Bautista. With two out, Olivo homered to give himself 5 RBI and 2 homers on the day - who knows how many RBI he could have gotten had he not been called on to bunt with two aboard in the 3rd inning.

[edit] March 9

[edit] Pool A

at the Tokyo Dome
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 4 0
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jung-keun Bong (1-0) Loss: Hisashi Iwakuma (0-1) Save: Chang-yong Lim (1)
Home Runs
South Korea: None
Japan: None
Umpires
HP: Dana DeMuth (USA); 1B: Paul Hyham (Australia); 2B: Ed Hickox (USA); 3B: Jorge Perez (Cuba)
Time of Game: 3:02
Attendance: 42,879

In the first rematch of the Classic, Korea and Japan got into a fine pitching duel between former major leaguer Jung-keun Bong and 2008 Sawamura Award winner Hisashi Iwakuma. Both pitchers had perfect games going after two and a half innings. In the top of the 4th, Korea got the game's lone run. CF Jong-wook Lee worked Iwakuma for a leadoff walk, one of 7 handed out by Japanese hurlers to patient Korean batsmen. 2B Keun-woo Jeong singled. After a strikeout of LF Hyun-soo Kim, cleanup hitter/1B Tae-kyun Kim came up and singled to left, scoring Lee; Jeong was thrown out at third by Norichika Aoki on the play. DH Dae-ho Lee then walked but C Kenji Johjima managed to pick Kim off second base.

Japan got a good scoring chance in the bottom of the 4th. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima led off with a single and stole second. He advanced on a grounder by Aoki but 3B Shuichi Murata and DH Atsunori Inaba were both retired.

Hyun-wook Jong relieved Bong in the 6th inning and continued the shutout through the 7th. In the bottom of the 8th, Japan threatened. With one out against Hyun-jin Ryu, RF Ichiro Suzuki singled. Manager In-sik Kim quickly yanked Ryu, bringing in Chang-yong Lim, no stranger to stifling Japanese hitters given his work in the Central League in 2008. Nakajima bunted Suzuki to second, but Aoki grounded out. Lim then went 1-2-3 in the 9th to lock up the save and give South Korea a higher seed for round two.

[edit] Pool B

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Mexico Mexico 1 0 2 0 0 0 3 4 4 14 16 2
Flag of South Africa South Africa 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 7 2
Pitchers of Record
Win: Elmer Dessens (1-0) Loss: Justin Erasmus (0-1)
Home Runs
Mexico: Adrián González in 3rd inning, 2 RBI; Adrián González in 8th inning, 3 RBI; Oscar Robles in 9th inning, 2 RBI; Jorge Cantú in 9th inning, 2 RBI
South Africa: None
Umpires
HP: Lance Barksdale (USA); 1B: Seok-hwan Oh (South Korea); 2B: Greg Gibson (USA); 3B: Seong-hoon Moon (South Korea)
Time of Game: 3:33
Attendance: 7,368

Mexico took a while to get going, but wound up with an explosive day, getting 16 hits (including 4 doubles and 4 home runs) and 9 walks to produce 14 runs before the home crowd. South Africa surprisingly kept it close for a while but couldn't maintain the pace.

Mexico began well against South Africa-born, Australia-raised Justin Erasmus. CF Jerry Hairston Jr. drew a leadoff walk. SS Oscar Robles grounded Hairston over. Erasmus made a throwing error on a pickoff attempt, giving Hairston third base. 1B Adrián González doubled in a run to start a big day on his end.

In the bottom of the first, South Africa tied it against Mexican team veteran and captain Elmer Dessens. 2B Gift Ngoepe, a Pittsburgh Pirates signee, tripled with one out and came in on a grounder by 3B Jonathan Phillips.

2B Freddy Sandoval led off the third with a double and was bunted over by Hairston. SS Oscar Robles struck out but González homered to right to put the home team ahead 3-1. South Africa almost answered in the bottom of the third. SS Anthony Phillips reached with one out on a Sandoval throwing error. Ngoepe then tripled to left to score Phillips with his second three-bagger of the day. He was stranded when former minor leaguers Jonathan Phillips and LF Paul Rutgers failed to come through against Dessens.

For the next three innings, Dessens traded goose eggs with Shannon Ekermans and Alessio Angelucci as South Africa remained down by just one, 3-2.

In the 7th, Mexico finally opened up the game. Sandoval began the inning with a single against Angelucci. After Hairston popped out, Robles singled. A passed ball by Kyle Botha advanced both runners. An intentional walk was issued to González. Despite having the bases loaded, Angelucci failed to find the strike zone in any of four pitches to 3B Jorge Cantú to make it 4-2. RF Karim Garcia grounded to 1B Brett Willemburg, whose throwing error scored two runs. LF Scott Hairston walked to load the bases again. Jared Elario relieved and got the last two outs.

In the bottom of the 7th, DH Richard Holgate drew a walk from Rodrigo López. CF Martin Gordon singled to right. Anthony Phillips singled home Holgate to close it 6-3.

Mexico continued their offensive in the 8th, again batting around. With one out, Hairston Jr. singled, as did Robles. González then socked his second home run of the day, giving him six RBI for the game. Jorge Cantú doubled off Elario, who was replaced by Jacobus Mostert. Mostert fired a wild pitch then walked Garcia. Scott Hairston singled in Cantú for a 10-3 lead. DH Jorge Vázquez singled to left, but Rutgers threw out Garcia trying to come around on the play.

In the 9th, Hairston Jr. drew a one-out walk from Hein Robb, a recent graduate of the MLB European Academy like Ngoepe. Robles homered to right to make it a 12-3 game. PH Agustín Murillo drew a walk, the 9th of the day for Mexico. Cantú followed with Mexico's 4th home run, none of them solo shots.

Hairston Jr. (1 for 3, 2 BB), Robles (3 for 6, 2 RBI) and González (3 for 4, BB) all scored three times. González drove in six, while Cantú (2 for 5, BB, 2 R) drove home three. Ngoepe (2 triples in 3 AB, walk, run, RBI) was the bright spot for South Africa.

[edit] Pool C

at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Italy Italy 1 1 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 6 10 0
Flag of Canada Canada 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 2 7 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Dan Serafini (1-0) Loss: Vince Perkins (0-1) Save: Jason Grilli (1)
Home Runs
Italy: None
Canada: None
Umpires
HP: Marvin Hudson (USA); 1B: Minoru Nakamura (Japan); 2B: Jerry Meals (USA); 3B: Masami Yoshikawa (Canada)
Time of Game: 3:36
Attendance: 12,411


Team Italy takes the field after defeating Team Canada
Team Canada supporters; Canada plays Italy.

Throwing out the ceremonial first pitch for this game was Canadian hockey broadcast legend Don Cherry, flamboyantly dressed in red velour. [2]

Italy eliminated Canada from the competition by thoroughly outplaying the Canucks in a 6-2 win. Canadian manager Ernie Whitt made a controversial decision in starting unheralded minor leaguer Vince Perkins and resting his ace by default, Scott Richmond, for an eventual decisive game against Venezuela. The tactic backfired badly as Perkins was in trouble from the start. He misplayed a ground ball by leadoff hitter SS Nick Punto for an error, leading to Italy's first run scored by 2B Davide Dallospedale, then allowed another run in the second inning as he struggled with his control. He then gave up a lead-off double in the third to CF Chris Denorfia, who went 4 for 4 with a walk, and was removed in favor of T.J. Burton. Denorfia came around to score, placing Canada in an early 3-0 hole. Scott Diamond relieved Burton in the 4th and gave up another run, before settling down over the next two innings.

While the Italians were placing tons of men on base, and cashing them in, Canada's offense was sputtering. Facing a veteran former major leaguer in lefty Dan Serafini, the heavily left-handed hitting Canadian line-up was unable to generate much offense. That changed in the fourth when DH Joey Votto led off with a double, then 1B Justin Morneau, who went 4 for 5 in the game, hit a towering fly ball which hit the rafters and fell between Punto, Dallospedale and first baseman Giuseppe Mazzanti for another double. Votto was unable to score, but both runners came around on a double by CF Jason Bay down the left field line. Lefty Chris Cooper relieved Serafini and loaded the bases with two walks, but also struck out 3B Mark Teahen and 2B Pete Orr while forcing SS Chris Barnwell to hit a weak fly ball to escape the inning with no further damage. Canada had sputtered its best opportunity to get back in the game.

Italy added two more runs in the 7th as 3B Alex Liddi tagged Steve Green for a lead-off double, and came in to score. Italy added a sixth run when pinch-runner Andrea De Santis beat an attempted inning-ending force out at second base. Canada mounted one last threat in the bottom of the 7th against Jason Grilli, but great defensive plays by Liddi and Denorfia retired C Russell Martin and Votto, leaving the bases empty when Morneau and Bay both reached base. Grilli got RF Matt Stairs to fly out, and the Canadians went down meekly thereafter. Cooper and Grilli combined for six innings of scoreless relief to seal the upset.

Once again, the native-born Italians outperformed the ringers. Liddi, Mazzanti, Mario Chiarini and Dallospedale went 5 for 15 with 3 runs and 3 RBI as opposed to a 5-for-21 with 3 runs and 3 RBI for the ringers; outside of Denorfia, the ringers were 1 for 17 with a run and a RBI.

[edit] Pool D

at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 5 1
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3 X 3 8 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: J.C. Romero (1-0) Loss: Dennis Neuman (0-1) Save: Fernando Cabrera (1)
Home Runs
Netherlands: None
Puerto Rico: None
Umpires
HP: Larry Vanover (USA); 1B: Corrie Davis (Canada); 2B: Laz Diaz (USA); 3B: Stéphane DuPont (Canada)
Time of Game: 3:11
Attendance: 19,479

Despite having the deck stacked against them with a #4 seed not indicative of their performance in the 2006 Classic (or 2005 Baseball World Cup, 2006 Intercontinental Cup and 2007 Baseball World Cup), the Netherlands came heart-breakingly close to clinching a spot in the second round before a late rally handed that slot to Puerto Rico. Instead, the Netherlands were forced into the unenviable position of having to beat the Dominican Republic twice in a row when that nation had been favored by the betting lines to win the tournament.

After a quiet first inning, the Dutch team took the lead in the second. CF Greg Halman doubled against Ian Snell and came home on a single by 3B Yurendell de Caster. DH Sharnol Adriana singled as well, but LF Bryan Engelhardt ground into a double play and light-hitting C Kenley Jansen went down on strikes.

Puerto Rico got their first baserunner against Rick Vanden Hurk in the bottom of the second when 1B Carlos Delgado opened with a two-bagger, but was stranded. In the bottom of the 4th, Delgado walked and surprisingly stole second base against the strong-armed Jansen. With one out, C Iván Rodríguez singled to place runners on the corners. Rod Delmonico replaced the major leaguer Vanden Hurk with David Bergman, one of the best pitchers in the Dutch Hoofdklasse. Bergman came through, getting SS Mike Aviles to hit into a double play.

Bergman and Pedro Feliciano tossed fine 5th innings. In the sixth, 2B Sharlon Schoop drew a one-out walk from Feliciano and 1B Randall Simon singled. Giancarlo Alvarado relieved and duplicated Bergman in getting a double play right away, this one from Dutch cleanup threat Halman. In the bottom of the 6th, Bergman faded, giving up a one-out single to CF Carlos Beltrán and plunking Delgado. RF Alex Rios flew out, advancing Beltrán to third. Young prospect Juan Carlos Sulbaran relieved Bergman and whiffed Rodríguez to escape that jam.

Aviles opened the bottom of the 7th with a double. C Yadier Molina laid down a bunt which failed to advance the runner. Sulbaran hit 2B Alex Cora to put two men on. Backup LF Jesus Feliciano singled to load the bases. 3B Ramon Vazquez popped up, though, and Beltrán grounded out as Sulbaran escaped unharmed.

In the bottom of the 8th, the Netherlands oddly turned to Dennis Neuman, who had been mediocre in the low minors in 2008 and had no international experience. The 19-year-old walked Delgado on five pitches and Andy González pinch-ran. The more experienced Michiel van Kampen relieved Neuman but had no control either, walking Rios on four pitches. He fanned Rodríguez but then walked Aviles on five pitches to load the bases. Delmonico switched pitchers again, switching to 2007 World Port Tournament Best Pitcher Leon Boyd in a sticky situation. He did not deliver, surrendering a 2-run double to Molina, which put Puerto Rico on the board and in the lead for the first time. Cora flew out. Feliciano singled in Aviles, but backup LF Danny Rombley gunned down Molina on the play to prevent further harm.

The Dutch trailed by two entering the 9th after being so close to victory a half-inning earlier before their bullpen meltdown. Simon began the inning with a weak ground-out back to pitcher J.C. Romero. Fernando Cabrera relieved and got slugger Halman swinging. De Caster then grounded out to Aviles to end the game.

[edit] March 10

[edit] Pool B

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Cuba Cuba 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 2 0 5 9 1
Flag of Australia Australia 0 0 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 4 6 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Ismel Jiménez (1-0) Loss: Rich Thompson (0-1)
Home Runs
Cuba: Yohenis Céspedes in 6th inning, 1 RBI; Yosvani Peraza in 8th inning, 2 RBI
Australia: None
Umpires
HP: Ted Barrett (USA); 1B: Edgar Estivison (Panama); 2B: Greg Gibson (USA); 3B: Seong-hoon Moon (South Korea)
Time of Game: 3:29
Attendance: 13,406

The game began under some controversy as Australian manager Jon Deeble said that the lineup he got a copy of had Alexander Mayeta listed 5th instead of Alfredo Despaigne; Cuban skipper Higinio Velez said he had turned in the lineup listing Despaigne and that he was not to blame.

Cuba started well against Travis Blackley, as DH Michel Enríquez doubled and LF Frederich Cepeda singled. Blackley escaped the jam by picking off Cepeda and whiffing 3B Yulieski Gourriel on three pitches. Cuba got on the board in the third. SS Luis Miguel Navas opened with a single and was bunted over by 2B Héctor Olivera Jr.. Enríquez bunted Navas to third, then Cepeda singled him in.

Aroldis Chapman retired the first seven batters he faced but the second 100-mph thrower in Cuban Serie Nacional history ran into trouble in the 4th. 3B Luke Hughes doubled and was balked to third base. With two out, 1B Ben Risinger singled in the tying run.

Blackley left after containing Cuba for 5 2/3 innings and was replaced by Damian Moss. The first batter Moss faced was Yoennis Céspedes, who homered to put Cuba ahead 2-1. Norberto González relieved for Cuba in the sixth and Australia provided a resounding response to Cuba's run. Hughes drew a leadoff walk and again advanced on a balk. He took third on a fly out by RF Chris Snelling. Pedro Luis Lazo, the all-time win leader in the Serie Nacional, relieved but was not up to his usual level. 1B Justin Huber singled to tie it. After Risinger fanned, DH Michael Collins singled. Lazo made an error on a pickoff try, both runners advancing, then SS Brad Harman walked. 2B James Beresford delivered a 2-run single to make it 4-2. The hapless Lazo was yanked in favor of Danny Betancourt, who got Andrew Graham to end the inning.

In the 7th inning, Olivera drew a two-out walk from Moss and Enríquez followed with a double to make it 4-3. Australia loaded the bases in the bottom of the 7th but Ismel Jiménez got PH Brett Roneberg on a fly to keep the game close.

Rich Thompson came in to pitch the 8th inning. Gourriel singled; Thompson got the next two batters, bringing in beefy slugger Joan Carlos Pedroso. Velez called for pinch-hitter Yosvani Peraza, another hefty homer hitter. The move paid off as Peraza deposited a pitch into left-center to put Cuba ahead 5-4, a lead they would not relinquish.

Jiménez started the bottom of the 8th by walking Harman. Beresford then chopped into a double play and Ismel got the next four batters to complete the win.

[edit] Pool C

at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Italy Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 1
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 0 4 5 0 1 0 X 10 14 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Enrique Gonzalez (1-0) Loss: Tiago da Silva (0-1)
Home Runs
Italy: None
Venezuela: Bobby Abreu in 5th inning, 1 RBI; Miguel Cabrera in 5th inning, 1 RBI; José López in 5th inning, 2 RBI; Ramón Hernández in 5th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Jerry Meals (USA); 1B: Masami Yoshikawa (Japan); 2B: Marvin Hudson (USA); 3B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:04
Attendance: 10,450

Italy started strong, loading the bases in the second inning. DH Mike Costanzo opened with a double off Enrique Gonzalez. Gonzalez got the next two outs. 3B Alex Liddi singled Costanzo to third and C Francisco Cervelli was plunked to load the bags. RF Mario Chiarini failed to come through, flying out.

Adam Ottavino left an excellent three-inning start for Italy to make way for Brazilian (naturalized Italian) Tiago da Silva. After retiring Abreu, da Silva ran into trouble. He gave up a double to 1B Miguel Cabrera and a single to LF Magglio Ordóñez. DH Carlos Guillen doubled home one run to make it 1-0. 2B José López was intentionally walked to load the bases. C Ramón Hernández hit into a two-run error by SS Nick Punto. SS César Izturis got plunked to load the bags again. CF Endy Chávez then hit a sacrifice fly to put Venezuela up 4-0.

Things got worse for Italy in the fifth. Veteran Kasey Olenberger surrendered back-to-back homers to Abreu and Cabrera. Ordóñez doubled, knocking Olenberger from the game. Young Italian prospect Luca Panerati came in and retired Guillen on a grounder. B.J. LaMura quickly replaced Panerati; the move was ill-advised as he gave up a 2-run homer to López. Hernández then hit Venezuela's 4th home run of the inning to put the club ahead 9-0. Chávez added a two-out double but was stranded.

Italy got their lone run in the 7th, in Ramon Ramirez's third inning of work. With two outs, Cervelli singled. Chiarini drew a walk and Punto was hit by a pitch. Backup 2B Jack Santora coaxed a walk, forcing in the run. Venezuela made it up in the bottom of the frame. With two away, backup C Henry Blanco singled against Roberto Corradini. Izturis and Chávez hit back-to-back singles to put Venezuela ahead 10-1.

Chávez and Cabrera each got 3 hits for Venezuela, which locked up a spot in round two and eliminated Italy, the 6th team gone from the Classic.

As with Italy's prior two games, the native Italians did as well or better than the ringers - the former were 3 for 17 and the latter 3 for 16. On the mound, native Italians allowed one run in 3 IP while non-natives surrendered nine runs in 5 innings.

[edit] Pool D

at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 R H E
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 1 7 3
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 2 5 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Leon Boyd (1-0) Loss: Carlos Marmol (0-1)
Home Runs
Dominican Republic: None
Netherlands: None
Umpires
HP: Laz Diaz (USA); 1B: Stéphane DuPont (Canada); 2B: Larry Vanover (USA); 3B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico
Time of Game: 3:38
Attendance: 11,814

In a rematch of a "#1" vs. "#4" seed game from the start of the tournament, the winner would advance to the semifinals while the loser would pack their bags. Presumably the Dominicans would not underestimate the Dutch this time around. For the third straight game, the Netherlands got involved in an exciting pitching duel. The starters were Ubaldo Jimenez for the Dominicans and Tom Stuifbergen for the Netherlands. Dutch team manager Rod Delmonico must have been wondering how much better his team's odds would have been had their two aces, Jair Jurrjens and Shairon Martis, not decided to skip the tourney within the last weeks before it began.

Stuifbergen, who had only pitched 7 games in the US, started well, allowing only a single to DH Hanley Ramírez. Jimenez fanned the side in the first but allowed a single to 1B Randall Simon. In the second, 3B Miguel Tejada singled but was erased on a DP ball by RF Jose Guillen. 2B Robinson Cano singled and advanced on a wild pitch but Stuifbergen whiffed LF Nelson Cruz. In the bottom of the second, Jimenez struck out all three batters.

CF Willy Taveras drew a two-out walk in the third but was stranded when Ramírez ground out. In the bottom of the inning, CF Eugène Kingsale singled but was thrown out running by C Miguel Olivo. In the 4th, Stuifbergen ran into trouble. 1B David Ortiz opened with a double and Tejada singled him to third. Guillen flew out to RF Dirk van 't Klooster and the slow Ortiz did not dare van 't Klooster's powerful arm. Stuifbergen struck out Cano but walked Cruz to put runners on each base. Olivo grounded to SS Sharlon Schoop, who threw to 2B Michael Duursma to end the threat. In the bottom of the 4th, Jimenez struck out the side for the third time in four innings to finish his day with 10 K.

To begin the fifth, Alexander Smit relieved Stuifbergen and fared better than in his previous appearance in the Classic. He gave up a one-out walk to Taveras but nothing else. In the bottom of the inning, Pedro Martinez relieved Jimenez and went 1-2-3.

In the 6th, Rob Cordemans came in and began by walking Tejada. He got Guillen and Cano but then issued a free pass to Cruz as well. Olivo flew out to end that bid. In the bottom of the sixth, Kingsale was hit by a pitch but was stranded.

In the seventh inning, Taveras drew a one-out walk from Cordemans, but he got the 3 All-Stars - SS Jose Reyes, Ramírez and Ortiz. Pedro Martinez went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the inning. Dennis Neuman relieved Cordemans in the 8th and was much better than in his prior game, fanning Tejada then getting Guillen and Cano on fly ball outs. In the bottom of the 8th, Tony Pena became the third Dominican hurler and had their second straight 1-2-3 inning.

Neuman retired the first two batters in the 9th inning then was replaced on the hill by Diegomar Markwell, a former AA hurler and cousin of the most famous Dutch active player, Andruw Jones (who failed to make the Orange this time). Reyes greeted the 2005 Baseball World Cup star with a single. Moises Alou pinch-hit for Taveras in potentially the final at-bat of his career, as he said he would retire after the Classic. Alou failed to deliver, grounding out to Schoop.

In the bottom of the ninth, Rafael Perez relieved Pena. The slider specialist got Duursma on a ground-out. Kingsale then grounded to Reyes, whose error allowed the Neptunus flyhawk to reach safely. Schoop ground to Cano, who threw to Reyes to get the force, Schoop reaching on the play. Simon then grounded out to send the game to extra innings, the first extra inning game of this Classic.

Markwell retired Ramírez on a fly and backup 1B Willy Aybar on a grounder to open the 10th. Leon Boyd was summoned as the 6th Dutch hurler. Boyd plunked Tejada and then gave up a Guillen single to left field. Cano then flew out to Kingsale (now manning right field) to end that half-inning.

Damaso Marte became the fifth Dominican pitcher and 11th pitcher overall of the dramatic pitching duel in which the slightest slip-up would end the tournament for one of the two teams. Marte fanned de Caster. PH Danny Rombley attempted to bunt his way aboard but failed. DH Vince Rooi singled for the first Dutch hit since the third inning. He was stranded when Marte fanned CF and top prospect Greg Halman.

Boyd got two quick outs to begin the 11th inning. He walked Reyes on a full count. Backup CF Jose Bautista then sliced one to right and an error by Dutch team veteran Kingsale allowed Reyes to score, ending the shutout. Boyd then struck out Ramírez.

The Dominicans turned to Carlos Marmol as the game's 12th hurler to try to close it out. International tourney veteran Sidney de Jong pinch-hit for C Kenley Jansen and delivered a crucial double, the longest Dutch hit of the game to that point. Curt Smith, the 2008 Appalachian League Player of the Year, pinch-hit for Duursma. Smith grounded de Jong to third. Kingsale then turned from Goat to Hero with a 2-2 single to right field to tie the game at one apiece. Marmol attempted a pickoff, but made a throwing error on the play; Kingsale hustled to third on the play. Schoop struck out for out number two, then Simon was given an intentional walk to bring up de Caster. He chopped a grounder to Aybar at first; Willy promptly made the second error of the inning for the Dominicans as Kingsale raced home with the winning run.

The pre-tournament favorites (as per the betting lines) were gone, having twice been eliminated by a team ranked #4 despite its accomplishments in international tourneys from 2005-2007.

The only bright spot for the Dominican club was that Jimenez's 10 Ks set a new Classic single-game record, breaking Koji Uehara's mark of 8 in 2006.

[edit] March 11

[edit] Pool B

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 R H E
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 0 4 7 1 4 16 13 0
Flag of Australia Australia 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jorge Campillo (1-0) Loss: David Welch (0-1)
Home Runs
Mexico: Scott Hairston in 4th inning, 2 RBI; Karim Garcia in 5th inning, 1 RBI; Karim Garcia in 6th inning, 3 RBI
Australia: Brett Roneberg in 4th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Greg Gibson (USA); 1B: Seok-hwan Oh (South Korea); 2B: Ted Barrett (USA); 3B: Edgar Estivison (Panama)
Time of Game: 2:31
Attendance: 16,728

After Australia routed Mexico in their first match-up, Mexico returned the favor in the more critical second game which determined who would go on and who would pack their bags.

For two innings, Jorge Campillo and David Welch traded goose eggs before the explosions began. In the third, RF Karim Garcia singled, as did #8 hitter/C Miguel Ojeda. SS Augie Ojeda reached on a run-scoring fielder's choice. CF Jerry Hairston Jr. struck out but 2B Edgar González singled home Miguel Ojeda to make it 2-0. 1B Adrián González grounded in Augie Ojeda, then 2B Jorge Cantú doubled for a 4-0 edge.

The Mexican onslaught heated up in the 4th after Brendan Wise relieved Welch. DH Jorge Vázquez was hit by a pitch and Garcia singled. Miguel Ojeda drew a walk and a wild pitch scored Vázquez. Liam Hendriks came in and gave up a hit to Augie Ojeda. Hairston Jr. grounded in a run to make it 6-0, then Edgar González singled home another. Paul Mildren came in and got Adrián González on a foul tip strikeout. Cantú singled in a run, then LF Scott Hairston drove a 2-run home run to make it 11-0. Tristan Crawford became the 4th Australian pitcher of the inning and finished it up without any further damage. 1B Brett Roneberg homered off Jorge Campillo in the bottom of the 4th to bring Australia back within 10 runs; it would be their only score.

Karim Garcia, a candidate for MVP and best foreigner of the 2008 KBO, opened the 5th with a solo home run for a 12-1 lead. In the sixth, Adrián González greeted new pitcher Drew Naylor with a double. With one out, Hairston walked. Vázquez hit a ground-rule double to put the home team ahead 13-1. Adam Bright relieved but he made Australia's hopes even dimmer when he surrendered a 3-run shot to Garcia, who finished 4-for-4 with 4 runs, 4 RBI and 10 total bases. The game was called after six innings due to the mercy rule.


[edit] Pool C

at Rogers Centre
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 1 0 1 2 1 0 0 5 12 1
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 2 0 3 7 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jan Granado (1-0) Loss: Jeremy Guthrie (0-1) Save: Francisco Rodríguez (1)
Home Runs
Venezuela: Henry Blanco in 3rd inning, 1 RBI
USA: Chris Iannetta in 8th inning, 2 RBI
Umpires
HP: Dan Iassogna (USA); 1B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); 2B: Jerry Meals (USA); 3B: Minoru Nakamura (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:08
Attendance: 12,358

Venezuela took the Pool C title by avenging their early embarrassing defeat by the US. Venezuela got on the board first, when C Henry Blanco homered off Cubs teammate Ted Lilly to begin the third inning. The US tied it in the 4th against Víctor Zambrano. DH Derek Jeter opened with a single; two outs later, RF Adam Dunn walked. LF Ryan Braun doubled in Jeter to even things up; Jan Granado relieved and retired C Brian McCann to end the inning.

In the fifth, Blanco hit a one-out double off of Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie fanned SS César Izturis but again drew a blank when it came to stopping Blancos, as CF Gregor Blanco tripled to put his country ahead 2-1. In the sixth, 1B Miguel Cabrera began with a double off of Guthrie. LF Magglio Ordóñez walked then left for pinch-runner Endy Chávez. DH Carlos Guillen grounded the runners over. 2B Marco Scútaro then delivered a 2-run single to left field to make it 4-1. Guthrie's bad day and Henry Blanco's good day both reversed fate briefly as the latter ground into an inning-ending double play.

To start the 7th, Izturis doubled against Guthrie and Gregor Blanco singled. 3B Melvin Mora singled, the 7th hit in 2 innings allowed by Guthrie; Izturis scored to make it 5-1 and Davey Johnson finally yanked Guthrie. Matt Thornton came in and retired RF Gerardo Parra to end the inning.

In the top of the 8th, Venezuela loaded the bases (including Henry Blanco's third hit of the day) but Brad Ziegler retired Gregor Blanco to end the inning. In the bottom of the inning, Dunn drew a one-out walk from Orber Moreno. With two away, backup C Chris Iannetta homered to close the game to 5-3.

Luis Sojo turned to Francisco Rodríguez to close the game. He walked SS Jimmy Rollins, who then stole second base. With one out, Jeter hit into an error by 3B Luis Maza to put the tying run aboard. Jeter failed in the clutch, though, getting thrown out by Henry Blanco on a double steal for out number two. Rodríguez got ahead of 1B Kevin Youkilis 1-2 on fastballs, then got him swinging at a changeup to end the game.

On a lighter note, the game was paused near the halfway point to wish Bobby Abreu a happy birthday. His image was flashed on the giant screen at Rogers Centre, and the crowd sung "Feliz Cumpleanos" (Happy Birthday in Spanish).

[edit] Pool D

at Hiram Bithorn Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6 0
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 1 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 5 10 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jonathan Sanchez (1-0) Loss: Pim Walsma (0-1)
Home Runs
Netherlands: None
Puerto Rico: None
Umpires
HP: Eric Cooper (USA); 1B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico); 2B: Laz Diaz (USA); 3B: Corrie Davis (Canada)
Time of Game: 2:16
Attendance: 19,501

The Dutch offense remained the team's weak point as they came up empty in a loss as Puerto Rico claimed the Pool D title. The Netherlands seemed to start strong. With two outs in the first, DH Randall Simon singled. 3B Yurendell de Caster doubled to center and Simon was waved home. CF Carlos Beltrán threw to SS Mike Aviles, who relayed home to C Geovany Soto to nab the none-too-swift Simon at home.

In the bottom of the first, Pim Walsma threw 22 balls among his 36 pitches. He walked CF Jesus Feliciano and 3B Ramon Vazquez, with a wild pitch in between the two to send Feliciano to third. Beltrán grounded into a force at second, scoring Feliciano.

From there, Walsma and David Bergman tossed scoreless ball from the 2nd-4th, while Puerto Rico's Sanchez and Orlando Román did the same through the top of the fifth. In the bottom of the 5th, 1B Carlos Delgado drew a walk from Bergman. RF Alex Rios then chipped in a RBI triple to double the lead. DH Iván Rodríguez singled in Rios for a 3-0 edge. Alexander Smit spelled Bergman and got through the rest of the inning. Javier Lopez tossed a scoreless top of the 6th.

Berry van Driel came in to pitch the bottom of the sixth. With one out, Beltrán singled and PR Hiram Bocachica took second on a passed ball by Sidney de Jong. Van Driel walked Delgado (intentionally) and Rios. He struck out PH Bernie Williams but Soto singled in Bocachica to make it 4-0. Van Driel whiffed 2B Felipe López to end the inning.

In the 7th, Nelson Figueroa pitched a shutout inning for Puerto Rico. Michiel van Kampen went 1-2-3 in the bottom of the seventh. In the top of the 8th, Ivan Maldonado became the 5th Puerto Rican hurler. PH Bryan Engelhardt greeted him with a single. RF Dirk van 't Klooster singled. 2B Mike Duursma struck out. Pedro Feliciano relieved and struck out CF Eugène Kingsale. Saul Rivera next relieved and got SS Sharlon Schoop on a grounder to end a good Dutch threat.

Bocachica opened the bottom of the 8th with a single off van Kampen. He took second on defensive indifference and was singled home by PH Alex Cora to finish the scoring at 5-0. Fernando Cabrera went 1-2-3 in the 9th to lock up an undefeated record in Pool play for the Puerto Ricans.

The Netherlands staff walked 9 while fanning 8 while Puerto Rico walked one and struck out 13.

[edit] March 12

at Foro Sol Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 0 2 1 1 0 0 4 5 0
Flag of Cuba Cuba 1 0 1 5 0 0 9 16 17 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Yulieski González (1-0) Loss: Campos (0-1)
Home Runs
Mexico: Freddy Sandoval in 3rd inning, 1 RBI; Oscar Robles in 3rd inning, 1 RBI; Karim Garcia in 5th inning, 1 RBI
Cuba: Yulieski Gourriel in 4th inning, 2 RBI; Ariel Pestano in 7th inning, 3 RBI; Frederich Cepeda in 7th inning, 3 RBI
Umpires
HP: Lance Barksdale (USA); 1B: Edgar Estivison (Panama); 2B: Ted Barrett (USA); 3B: Seong-hoon Moon (South Korea)
Time of Game: 3:33
Attendance: 20,148

For the 4th time in four games, Mexico either scored or allowed 14 runs in a game. This time, they were on the negative side of things. At the high elevation, six home runs were hit.

Cuban CF Yoennis Céspedes led off the bottom of the first with a triple off of Pablo Ortega. 3B Michel Enríquez was hit by a pitch. LF Frederich Cepeda ground into a run-scoring double play. Mexico loaded the bases with one out in the second against Ciro Silvino Licea and Luis Miguel Rodríguez but C Miguel Ojeda hit into a double play. In the third, 2B Freddy Sandoval and SS Oscar Robles both teed off against Rodríguez to make it 2-1. Yulieski González was summoned in relief, Cuba's third pitcher of the game.

In the bottom of the third, Vinny Castilla switched from Ortega to Francisco Campos. He gave up a leadoff single to C Rolando Meriño, who advanced on a ground out by SS Luis Miguel Navas and came home on a two-out single by Enríquez to tie the score.

CF Scott Hairston opened the Mexican 4th with a walk from González. A one-out double by LF Agustín Murillo brought Hairston in to make it 3-2. Mexico loaded the bases but 1B Adrián González struck out in the clutch.

In the bottom of the fourth, Cuba took the lead for good. DH Yosvani Peraza opened with a single, then 2B Yulieski Gourriel went deep for a 4-3 edge. Meriño drew a two-out walk. Rafael Diaz relieved Campos and gave up a single to Navas. Céspedes singled home Meriño, then Enríquez hit a 2-run double for a 7-3 lead.

RF Karim Garcia hit a solo homer off Yunieski Maya in the 5th to close the gap to 3; it was his third home run of the past two games. Diaz tossed a scoreless 5th and combined with David Cortes on shutting down Cuba in the 6th.

In the bottom of the 7th, the Cuban bats really broke out. Dennys Reyes replaced Cortes and began by allowing a single to Cepeda. Peraza singled as well, then Reyes threw a wild pitch. Gourriel doubled home both runners for a 9-4 score. Backup CF Leonys Martín was hit by a pitch. Reyes then threw a second wild pitch, then a third, scoring Gourriel. PH Joan Carlos Pedroso drew a walk. Luis Ayala came in to "relieve". Backup C Ariel Pestano then slammed a 3-run homer to right to put Cuba ahead 13-4. Navas struck out, then Céspedes (now manning right) singled. Enríquez followed with a single too. Cepeda then delivered his second hit of the inning, a 3-run homer to center to make it 16-4. Due to the mercy rule, the game closed out with only one Cuban out of 10 batters in the final frame.

The top five of the Cuban order all shone with Céspedes (3 for 5, 3, RBI), Enríquez (3 for 4, R, 3 RBI), Cepeda (2 for 5, 2 R, 3 RBI), Peraza (3 for 4, 2 R) and Gourriel (2 for 4, 2 R, 4 RBI). The catchers combined for 3 runs and 3 RBI. Campos took the loss one year to the day after he fanned 18 in a 2-hitter in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament.

[edit] March 14

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 6 0
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 2 4 0 0 1 0 4 11 13 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Javier Vázquez (2-0) Loss: Jake Peavy (0-1)
Home Runs
USA: None
Puerto Rico: Felipe López in 2nd inning, 2 RBI; Carlos Beltrán in 7th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Mark Wegner (USA); 1B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico); 2B: Bruce Dreckman (USA); 3B: Masato Tomoyose (Japan)
Time of Game: 2:15
Attendance: 30,595

The 50 states of the USA faced off with their small island protectorate which reputedly was fading as a baseball power. One wouldn't know it from this game, where the home team was knocked out in 7 innings thanks to the mercy rule.

After Javier Vázquez went 1-2-3 in the top of the first, Puerto Rico lit up Jake Peavy in the bottom of the first. LF Jesus Feliciano opened with a single but 3B Ramon Vazquez hit into a force at second. CF Carlos Beltrán and 1B Carlos Delgado hit back-to-back singles to make it 1-0. A sacrifice fly by RF Alex Rios made it 2-0 Puerto Rico.

The US again went down in order in the second, then Puerto Rico continued to pummel Peavy. DH Geovany Soto drew a leadoff walk and 2B Felipe López followed with a home run. After an out by SS Mike Aviles, Feliciano walked on five pitches. Vazquez doubled him to third. Beltrán singled home Feliciano then stole second base. Delgado grounded home Vazquez and Puerto Rico held a strong 6-0 lead. Joel Hanrahan would replace Peavy following the inning.

The United States finally got a baserunner in the third when C Brian McCann singled and was stranded. They got on the board for the only time in the fifth. 3B David Wright opened with a single off Vázquez and RF Adam Dunn singled. LF Ryan Braun grounded into a force at third. McCann doubled home Dunn, but Vázquez recovered to fan 2B Mark DeRosa and get CF Shane Victorino to fly out. Nelson Figueroa, Javier Lopez and Saul Rivera provided scoreless relief over the next two innings.

In the bottom of the fifth, Puerto Rico started rolling again after two quiet innings. Beltrán greeted new pitcher Heath Bell with a walk. Delgado flew him to second, then Rios grounded out. C Iván Rodríguez doubled in Beltrán to put Puerto Rico in front by a 7-1 score.

In the bottom of the 7th, Matt Thornton came in to pitch and gave up a homer to Beltrán to start things off. With two out, Rodríguez doubled and Soto coaxed a walk. López doubled in one run for a 9-1 lead. Aviles then singled home the other two runners to end the game as Puerto Rico had built a 10-run lead.

Among the stars were Vázquez (1 R in 5 IP), Beltrán (3 for 3, BB, SB, HR, 3 R, 2 RBI), Rodríguez (3 for 4, 2 2B, R, RBI) and López (2 for 3, 2B, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI).

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 6 0
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 X 3 3 2
Pitchers of Record
Win: Carlos Silva (1-0) Loss: Sidney Ponson (1-1) Save: Francisco Rodríguez (1)
Home Runs
Netherlands: None
Venezuela: Miguel Cabrera in 4th inning, 1 RBI; José López in 8th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Ed Rapuano (USA); 1B: Masato Tomoyose (Japan); 2B: Bruce Dreckman (USA); 3B: Hitoshi Watarida (Japan)
Time of Game: 2:22
Attendance: 17,345

The Netherlands got twice as many hits as Venezuela, but took a major loss as it forced them into a do-or-die against the USA. Venezuela was lucky to get the most of their hits as two of the three were home runs and the other one was a triple.

Venezuela began quickly. CF Endy Chávez led off the bottom of the first with a triple off Sidney Ponson, then scored on a grounder by 3B Melvin Mora. The Netherlands tied it back up in the second. 2B Yurendell de Caster hit into an error by SS César Izturis. LF Bryan Engelhardt doubled; de Caster tried to score on the play but Chávez's throw home (as relayed by Izturis) nabbed him at the plate. 3B Vince Rooi singled. Carlos Silva recovered to fan CF Greg Halman and get C Kenley Jansen on a ground ball.

Things were quiet from there until the bottom of the fourth, when 1B Miguel Cabrera homered off of Ponson to put the Venezuelans in front 2-1. The teams kept trading 1-2-3 innings for a spell. Rob Cordemans replaced Ponson after five relatively strong innings. Both teams went 1-2-3 again in the 7th. In the 8th, offenses woke up once more. Yoel Hernandez relieved Silva. With one out, PH Sidney de Jong singled and SS Sharlon Schoop ground into an error by 2B José López. Carlos Vasquez relieved and got RF Eugène Kingsale to pop out. Luis Sojo summoned in ace closer Francisco Rodríguez and retired DH Sharnol Adriana on a grounder to end the threat.

Dennis Neuman replaced Cordemans in the bottom of the 8th and immediately gave up a gopher ball to López for a 3-1 lead. In the top of the 9th, de Caster singled off Rodríguez with one out. Engelhardt struck out then Rooi grounded out to Mora to end the contest.

[edit] March 15

at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 3 1 1 0 0 0 1 6 12 2
Flag of Cuba Cuba 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 8 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Daisuke Matsuzaka (2-0) Loss: Aroldis Chapman (0-1)
Home Runs
Japan: None
Cuba: None
Umpires
HP: Hunter Wendelstedt (USA); 1B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); 2B: Bill Miller (USA); 3B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:33
Attendance: 20,179

Japan had no problems with Aroldis Chapman, even though the tall Cuban hit 100 mph on the radar gun, while Daisuke Matsuzaka had Cuba's number just as he had 3 years earlier in the Classic.

Cuba got hits from 3B Michel Enríquez and LF Frederich Cepeda with one out in the bottom of the first but DH Yosvani Peraza and 2B Yulieski Gourriel were retired. Chapman walked the first two batters in the second, DH Michihiro Ogasawara and 1B Seiichi Uchikawa, but promptly picked them both off.

C Kenji Johjima opened the third inning with a single and 2B Akinori Iwamura singled as well. RF Ichiro Suzuki laid down a bunt, but Chapman's fine defense continued as he threw to third to get Johjima for the out. SS Yasuyuki Kataoka singled to load the bases. Manager Higinio Velez turned to Norberto González with Chapman sturggling. The new hurler uncorked a wild pitch, bringing in Iwamura for a 1-0 lead. LF Norichika Aoki singled home Suzuki, then 3B Shuichi Murata's sacrifice fly scored Kataoka to make it 3-0.

CF Yoennis Céspedes and Cepeda both singled in the 3rd but failed to score. In the 4th, Johjima hit a one-out double off Ismel Jiménez and Iwamura followed with a single. Suzuki grounded in Johjima, his Seattle Mariners teammate, to put Samurai Japan ahead 4-0. In the 5th, Jiménez plunked Murata. Ogasawara singled him to third and Uchikawa singled in the run to knock Ismel from the game.

After three straight 1-2-3 innings, Matsuzaka left after six shutout innings in favor of Hisashi Iwakuma, who had a strong 7th after a leadoff Gourriel single. Takahiro Mahara needed to face just three batters in the eighth to maintain the shutout.

PH Munenori Kawasaki began the 9th with a single against Yolexis Ulacia. Aoki bunted Kawasaki over, then Murata singled him in to make it 6-0. In the bottom of the 9th, Kyuji Fujikawa became the 4th Japanese hurler entrusted to keep a shutout going. Cepeda greeted him with a double, his third hit of the day. The hard-throwing Fujikawa whiffed both Peraza and Gourriel, then got RF Alfredo Despaigne to fly out to end the contest.

at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 9 1
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 2 0 1 1 0 4 0 X 8 12 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Hyun-wook Jong (1-0) Loss: Oliver Perez (0-1)
Home Runs
Mexico: None
South Korea: Bum-ho Lee in 2nd inning, 1 RBI; Tae-kyun Kim in 4th inning, 1 RBI; Young-min Ko in 5th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Joe West (USA); 1B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico); 2B: Bill Miller (USA); 3B: Paul Hyham (Australia)
Time of Game: 3:43
Attendance: 22,337

South Korea and Mexico continued the trend of Cuba in having their left-handed pitchers get crushed out of the box. After a relatively quiet first, Mexico struck Hyun-jin Ryu in the second. 3B Jorge Cantú opened with a single. LF Scott Hairston ground into a force, then DH Jorge Vázquez singled. C Rod Barajas struck out and RF Cristhian Presichi drew a walk. SS Augie Ojeda then came through from the #9 slot with a 2-run single to give Mexico its only lead of the game.

In the bottom of the second, South Korea tied it against Oliver Perez. 3B Bum-ho Lee homered with one out. RF Yong-kyu Lee singled and stole second base after C Kyung-wan Park fanned. SS Ki-hyuk Park grounded to 2B Edgar González, whose throwing error let Yong-kyu Lee score the tying run.

1B Adrián González and Scott Hairston singled in the third, knocking Ryu out of the game with two outs. Hyun-wook Jong relieved and started off his day by retiring Vázquez to end the inning. 1B Tae-kyun Kim went deep off of Perez in the 4th to give South Korea a 3-2 lead. In the 5th, the González brothers reached and a Bum-ho Lee error loaded the bases with one out. Jong recovered to strike out Scott Hairston and get Vázquez on a grounder. 2B Young-min Ko homered against Perez in the 5th; he failed to survive the inning before giving way to Elmer Dessens.

South Korea loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 6th but Rafael Diaz struck out Ki-hyuk Park and got CF Jong-wook Lee to fly out to Presichi (now manning left field). Ko opened the bottom of the 7th with a bunt single and LF Hyun-soo Kim drew a walk from Diaz. David Cortes relieved, then the baserunners pulled off a double steal. Tae-kyun Kim singled home both runners to make Korea's lead 6-2. Backup DH Taek-keun Lee walked then Bum-ho Lee singled to load the bases with none out. Dennys Reyes relieved and got Yong-kyu Lee to hit a sacrifice fly. Luis Ayala was the 4th Mexican pitcher of the inning and got Kyung-wan Park to hit into a force. Ki-hyuk Park singled home Taek-keun Lee to put Korea ahead 8-2.

Mexico got no closer against Suk-min Yoon and Seung-hwan Oh as South Korea improved their odds of a return trip to the semifinals.

Bum-ho Lee finished 3 for 4 with a homer while Tae-kyun Kim was 2 for 3 with 2 runs, 3 RBI and a homer.

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 2 0 3 12 1
Flag of United States United States 1 2 0 3 1 1 0 1 X 9 12 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Roy Oswalt (1-0) Loss: Rick Vanden Hurk (0-1)
Home Runs
Netherlands: Bryan Engelhardt in 8th inning, 1 RBI
USA: Jimmy Rollins in 2nd inning, 2 RBI; Adam Dunn in 6th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Bruce Dreckman (USA); 1B: Hitoshi Watarida (Japan); 2B: Ed Rapuano (USA); 3B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico)
Time of Game: 3:14
Attendance: 11,059

The Dutch offense finally came around enough to get 12 hits, but their pitching had its worst game of the tournament and the Netherlands were thus the 9th country eliminated, leaving 7 left. The host Americans cruised to victory, staving off elimination for now in a must-win game as the Dutch failed to pull off a third upset of the Classic.

In the bottom of the first, 2B Brian Roberts (a new addition to Team USA following an injury to Dustin Pedroia), singled with one out off Rick Vanden Hurk. DH Derek Jeter and 1B Kevin Youkilis drew walks to load the bases. 3B David Wright hit a sacrifice fly to make it 1-0, but Vanden Hurk struck out RF Adam Dunn to end the inning before any more damage was done.

In the bottom of the second, CF Curtis Granderson reached on a 2-out error by RF Dirk van 't Klooster, usually a good defender. SS Jimmy Rollins made the Dutch pay for the mistake by homering to put the Americans in front 3-zip.

The Dutch rallied in the third off Roy Oswalt. C Kenley Jansen singled with one out. With two away, CF Gene Kingsale and 2B Yurendell de Caster delivered back-to-back singles. 1B Randall Simon failed in the clutch, popping up to Rollins. In the 4th, DH Sidney de Jong reached on an error and van 't Klooster singled but Jansen struck out to end the threat.

In the bottom of the 4th, C Chris Iannetta drew a walk from Juan Carlos Sulbaran. Granderson struck out, but Rollins tripled to make it 4-0. Roberts hit a triple right after that and it was now 5-0. Michiel van Kampen relieved and walked Jeter. Youkilis ground into a run-scoring force to run the lead to 6-0 before Wright grounded out.

In the bottom of the 5th, Dunn greeted new hurler David Bergman with a single. LF Ryan Braun and Iannetta followed with singles as well. Granderson grounded to Simon, who threw to Jansen for the force at home. Rollins then hit a sacrifice fly to increase the American lead to 7.

De Jong and LF Bryan Engelhardt singled with one out in the 6th off Scot Shields but 3B Vince Rooi and PH Curt Smith both grounded out. In the bottom of the inning, Dunn tagged Leon Boyd for a 2-out home run and it was now 8-0.

In the 7th, SS Sharlon Schoop singled with one away against Brad Ziegler. Kingsale singled him to second, then de Caster doubled to give the Netherlands its first tally. Simon flew out and de Jong grounded out as the US escaped more harm.

Matt Lindstrom replaced Ziegler to open the 8th and Engelhardt greeted him with a home run to make it 8-2. Rooi flew out, then backup RF Danny Rombley walked. PH Sharnol Adriana singled to put men on the corners. A sacrifice fly by Schoop brought Rombley in. John Grabow came in and walked Kingsale to put two men on. De Caster flew out with a chance to make it a 2-run game.

In the bottom of the 8th, Berry van Driel issued a leadoff walk to Youkilis. He got backup 3B Mark DeRosa and backup RF Shane Victorino. Brian McCann pinch-hit for Braun and doubled in Youkilis for a 9-3 score. Iannetta was retired to end the inning.

Jonathan Broxton went 1-2-3 in the 9th, hitting 96-98 on his 4 pitches to Engelhardt, who grounded out to end the game.

The infield duo of Rollins (2 for 4, 2 R, 4 RBI) and Roberts (3 for 3, 2 BB, 2 R, RBI) led the USA.

[edit] March 16

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 8 0
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Félix Hernández (1-0) Loss: Ian Snell (0-1) Save: Francisco Rodríguez (2)
Home Runs
Venezuela: Ramón Hernández in 7th inning, 1 RBI
Puerto Rico: None
Umpires
HP: Ed Rapuano (USA); 1B: Masato Tomoyose (Japan); 2B: Mark Wegner (USA); 3B: Hitoshi Watarida (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:23
Attendance: 25,599

Venezuela knocked off the only remaining unbeaten team. They began well against Ian Snell. With one out in the first, 3B Melvin Mora singled. An out later, 1B Miguel Cabrera doubled. DH Carlos Guillen struck out to end the half-inning. Venezuela threatened again in the second on a walk to 2B José López and a single by SS Marco Scútaro. With two away, CF Gregor Blanco grounded out to end that threat.

In the bottom of the second, Puerto Rico came close against young Félix Hernández. RF Alex Rios singled. DH Iván Rodríguez singled but his grounder hit Rios, retiring him (he was initially ruled safe but the call was correctly reversed). C Yadier Molina drew a 2-out walk before SS Alex Cora was retired to blow that opportunity.

Venezuela picked up the winning run in the third. RF Bobby Abreu walked with one out and stole second as Cabrera struck out. Guillen singled to center to score Abreu. CF Carlos Beltrán doubled with two out in the bottom of the inning and 1B Carlos Delgado walked while Beltrán swiped third. Rios flew out to Abreu to strand the Carloses.

In the bottom of the 5th, Puerto Rico came close again. With two away, 3B Ramon Vazquez tripled. Beltrán walked. Venezuela replaced Hernández with Carlos Vasquez, who struck out Delgado to escape the jam.

In the top of the 7th, C Ramón Hernández hit a drive to left-center off Giancarlo Alvarado that became the subject of controversy. 2B umpire Mark Wegner ruled the ball in play; Hernández hustled to third with a triple. The Venezuelans appealed, saying it was a home run. Unfortunately, the TV feed from New York failed and the umps were unable to use instant replay. 3B umpire Hitoshi Watarida insisted it had been a home run and the other umps agreed, overruling the initial call. Watarida was proven correct by replays later on. Puerto Rican CF Beltrán said he knew it had been a home run "but I tried to play it like it wasn't."

Ramon Ramirez became the 4th Venezuelan pitcher, entering to start the 8th. Beltrán opened the inning with his third walk of the game. Delgado lined out but Rios singled to put two men on. "Pudge" Beltrán flew out to right. Luis Sojo summoned ace closer Francisco Rodríguez, fresh off a MLB-record-setting season in terms of saves. K-Rod had no trouble, striking out 2B Felipe López to end the inning then going 1-2-3 in the 9th to lock it up, giving Venezuela the first slot in the semifinals.


at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Cuba Cuba 1 0 1 0 3 0 2 0 0 7 11 0
Flag of Mexico Mexico 0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 1 4 7 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Norge Vera (2-0) Loss: Jorge Campillo (1-1) Save: Pedro Luis Lazo (1)
Home Runs
Cuba: None
Mexico: Jorge Cantú in 8th inning, 1 RBI; Cristhian Presichi in 9th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Bill Miller (USA); 1B: Paul Hyham (Australia); 2B: Hunter Wendelstedt (USA); 3B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:09
Attendance: 9,329

Cuba eliminated Mexico, leaving six teams in the tournament, crushing major league star Jorge Campillo. They started off with two outs in the first. DH Michel Enríquez and LF Frederich Cepeda drew back-to-back walks then 3B Yulieski Gourriel singled for a 1-0 lead.

Leonys Martín led off the third with a single and 2B Héctor Olivera Jr. singled him to third. With one away, Cepeda singled to double the lead to two but Gourriel ground into a double play. Mexico struck back in the bottom of the third. With two out, C Miguel Ojeda doubled to left and scored on a single by 2B Freddy Sandoval to cut the difference back to one run.

In the bottom of the 4th, Mexico tied it. With one out, 1B Adrián González was walked by Norge Vera, who then plunked 3B Jorge Cantú. DH Karim Garcia singled to load the bases. CF Scott Hairston ground into a run-scoring force to even the score.

In the 5th, Cuba took the lead back. Martín and Olivera started things just like in the third, with back-to-back singles. Enríquez walked. Cepeda then hit a 3-run double to empty the bases, knocking Campillo from the game after surrendering five runs in four innings.

Cuba continued their trend of scoring every odd-numbered inning in the 7th. With two away, Cepeda singled off Pablo Ortega for his third hit and 4th time on base. Gourriel singled. Francisco Rodriguez was summoned from the bullpen to try to stop the bleeding but RF Yoennis Céspedes greeted him with a 2-run triple and Mexico led 7-2.

After 2 1/3 scoreless relief innings, Pedro Luis Lazo faded a bit in the 8th, giving up a solo homer to Cantú with two outs. In the 9th, LF Cristhian Presichi opened with a home run but Lazo got the next three batters to send Mexico packing.

[edit] March 17

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 0 1 0 2 0 1 0 0 1 5 5 1
Flag of United States United States 0 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 3 6 10 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jonathan Broxton (1-0) Loss: J.C. Romero (1-1)
Home Runs
Puerto Rico: Alex Rios in 2nd inning, 1 RBI; Carlos Delgado in 4th inning, 2 RBI
USA: Kevin Youkilis in 4th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Mark Wegner (USA); 1B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico); 2B: Ed Rapuano (USA); 3B: Masato Tomoyose (Japan)
Time of Game: 3:54
Attendance: 13,224

With the second semifinal spot up for grabs and the other team being eliminated, this one went down to the wire as the US avenged their earlier mercy rule loss. Given the second chance to beat Puerto Rico, they eked out a win.

Puerto Rican RF Alex Rios opened the scoring in the second with a solo homer off Ted Lilly. The US took the lead in the bottom of the first. 3B David Wright began with a single off Jonathan Sanchez and stole second base with one out. LF Mark DeRosa singled Wright to third and C Brian McCann brought him in with a sac fly. CF and #9 hitter Shane Victorino began a 3-hit day with a run-scoring single for a 2-1 edge.

In the bottom of the third, US 1B Kevin Youkilis went deep against Sanchez to make it 3-1. Sanchez walked Wright and plunked RF Adam Dunn. He was promptly yanked in favor of Nelson Figueroa, who would shut down the US for the next 2 1/3 innings.

In the top of the 4th, DH Iván Rodríguez drew a leadoff walk from Lilly. One out later, 1B Carlos Delgado homered to tie the contest at three. That was it for Lilly, who was replaced by Joel Hanrahan. Rodríguez began the sixth with a walk as well, this one from Heath Bell. CF Carlos Beltrán bunted the runner over and Delgado was intentionally walked. Rios singled in Rodríguez and Puerto Rico was in front 4-3.

The 4-3 score stood until the 9th inning. Jonathan Broxton, the 7th US pitcher, started that inning by walking Rios. Rios stole second, then came home on a one-out single by backup 3B Ramon Vazquez off the glove of SS Derek Jeter. Broxton escaped without further damage, which would prove crucial.

In the bottom of the 9th, Victorino led off with a single to right off of J.C. Romero, a former Team USA member. 2B Brian Roberts singled as well. Jeter again failed in the clutch, flying out. Robers stole second, then DH Jimmy Rollins walked to load the bases. José Oquendo replaced Romero with Fernando Cabrera, the 7th Puerto Rican pitcher. Cabrera was no sharper, walking Youkilis on five pitches to force home Victorino and make it 5-4. Cabrera fell behind Wright 2-1 before the US third baseman drove a fastball into right field, scoring Roberts with the game-tying run and Rollins with the game-winner.

at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 1 7 1
Flag of South Korea South Korea 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 X 4 4 0
Pitchers of Record
Win: Jung Bong (2-0) Loss: Yu Darvish (1-1) Save: Chang-yong Lim (2)
Home Runs
Japan: None
South Korea: None
Umpires
HP: Hunter Wendelstedt (USA); 1B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); 2B: Joe West (USA); 3B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:21
Attendance: 15,332

After the first inning, South Korea and Japan were even at one, but that initial inning gave Korea all it needed to lock up a spot in the semifinals.

Yu Darvish made his debut in the United States look shaky. LF Yong-kyu Lee opened the contest with a single. Lee stole second then 2B Keun-woo Jeong delivered an infield hit. LF Hyun-soo Kim hit into a run-scoring error by SS Yasuyuki Kataoka. 1B Tae-kyun Kim drew a walk to load the bases. Darvish finally got an out, fanning DH Shin-soo Choo. RF Jin-young Lee delivered a 2-run single and Korea had all the runs it would need.

Japan got its first rally off Jung-keun Bong in the 4th. With one out, 3B Shuichi Murata was hit by a pitch and 1B Michihiro Ogasawara singled but DH Seiichi Uchikawa ground into an inning-ending double play. CF Kosuke Fukudome opened the fifth with a single, the second Japanese hit off Bong. C Kenji Johjima singled as well. 2B Akinori Iwamura hit into a force, then RF Ichiro Suzuki hit into a run-scoring force to make it 3-1.

Bong left after 5 1/3 fine innings and Suk-min Yoon followed with scoreless ball for 2 1/3 more frames before giving way to Kwang-hyun Kim, usually a starter. In the bottom of the 8th, South Korea scored an insurance run. Backup 2B Young-min Ko drew a leadoff walk from Hideaki Wakui and was bunted over by backup CF Jong-wook Lee. Tae-kyun Kim was intentionally walked. Backup DH Taek-keun Lee grounded the runners over. Minoru Iwata relieved Wakui and walked Jin-young Lee on four pitches. He then walked 3B Bum-ho Lee to force in Ko with the game's 4th run. Masahiro Tanaka relieved the wild Iwata and fanned C Kyung-wan Park to end the inning.

Backup DH Atsunori Inaba began the Japanese 9th with a single. Fukudome grounded him over, then In-sik Kim turned to Chang-yong Lim, a top reliever in the Japanese Central League. The South Korean submariner got PH Shinnosuke Abe on a fly then struck out Iwamura looking to end the contest.

[edit] March 18

at Dolphin Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of United States United States 0 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 6 12 3
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 6 0 1 0 3 0 0 0 10 15 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Armando Galarraga (1-0) Loss: Jeremy Guthrie (0-2)
Home Runs
USA: Mark DeRosa in 5th inning, 2 RBI
Venezuela: Max Ramirez in 6th inning, 3 RBI
Umpires
HP: Bruce Dreckman (USA); 1B: Hitoshi Watarida (Japan); 2B: Mark Wegner (USA); 3B: Luis Ramirez (Mexico)
Time of Game: 3:32
Attendance: 16,575

The game was delayed over an hour due to rain, then the hitters took no delay in getting to work. The two clubs rapped out 27 hits and scored 16 runs, with 11 different players getting multiple hits. For the second straight time, Venezuela beat the US in a game to determine seeding for the next round.

The US took the lead first. LF Mark DeRosa hit a one-out single in the second off Armando Galarraga for the first of his 3 hits. RF Shane Victorino ground into a force, then C Chris Iannetta singled. CF Curtis Granderson singled home DeRosa to make it 1-0.

Venezuela got plenty of offense in the second. 3B Carlos Guillen started off with a single off Jeremy Guthrie and LF Magglio Ordóñez singled as well. RF Gerardo Parra grounded to 1B Adam Dunn, playing out of position; Dunn's throwing error scored one run. 1B Max Ramirez flew out for out number one. C Henry Blanco doubled to make it 3-1. CF Endy Chávez flew out, but SS César Izturis singled in Blanco. 2B José López and DH Miguel Cabrera both provided RBI doubles to make it a 6-run inning. Davey Johnson finally yanked Guthrie in favor of J.P. Howell. Guillen, the 10th batter of the inning, was retired to end the second.

In the third, 2B Brian Roberts opened with a double. With two outs, 3B David Wright and Dunn both walked to load the bases. DeRosa singled to score Roberts and close it to 6-2. Victorino grounded out and they got no closer in that inning.

The US scored again in the 4th. Iannetta and Granderson began with singles. Roberts flew out. Ramon Ramirez replaced Galarraga, who had given up 8 hits and 3 walks in 3 1/3 IP. DH Derek Jeter hit into an error by Guillen that made it 6-3 but Ramirez got SS Jimmy Rollins and Wright to end that threat.

In the bottom of the 4th, Venezuela increased their lead back to 4. With one away, Izturis singled against John Grabow and stole second. Grabow got López out but Cabrera singled in the run. Guillen and Ordóñez singled to load the bases but Grabow recovered to get Parra swinging.

Dunn drew a walk to open the 5th and DeRosa cracked a home run to pull the US within 2, 7-5. They got even closer in the 6th. Roberts greeted new pitcher Carlos Vasquez with a single. Jeter doubled. Vasquez struck out Rollins. Wright grounded home Roberts to pull the US within a run. Dunn grounded out to end the threat.

Venezuela pulled back away in the home half of the inning. Cabrera singled off reliever LaTroy Hawkins. With two outs, Parra singled, then Ramirez homered to put Venezuela ahead 10-6. Victor Moreno and Heath Bell each tossed a scoreless 7th.

In the 8th, Orber Moreno walked Granderson and gave up a one-out single to Jeter but got #3 hitter Rollins and cleanup man Wright to escape the jam. Another Dunn error put a man aboard in the bottom of the 8th but Venezuela got nothing else. Francisco Rodríguez came in to close and got 3 of 4 batters, allowing a walk to Victorino and nothing else.

at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 0 2 1 0 1 0 1 5 8 0
Flag of Cuba Cuba 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 5 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Hisashi Iwakuma (1-1) Loss: Yunieski Maya (0-1) Save: Toshiya Sugiuchi (1)
Home Runs
Japan: None
Cuba: None
Umpires
HP: Joe West (USA); 1B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)); 2B: Hunter Wendelstedt (USA); 3B: Paul Hyham (Australia)
Time of Game: 3:26
Attendance: 9,774

For the second time this Classic, the two finalists from 2006 squared off. And for the the third straight match in a World Baseball Classic, Japan beat Cuba, the second shutout in a row. While the outcome was not a shocker given that history, it was surprising in that this was perhaps the worst tournament ever by a Cuban team. They made the finals in the last 40 major worldwide events (Baseball World Cup, Intercontinental Cup, Olympics, World Baseball Classic) that they had entered, with their last finish outside the finals coming in the 1951 Amateur World Series, 8 years before the Cuban revolution. They had never failed to make the top four in any of the four major events.

Two pitchers were responsible for the effort. 2008 Sawamura Award winner Hisashi Iwakuma and Toshiya Sugiuchi combined on the shutout.

After three quiet innings, Samurai Japan got on the board against Yunieski Maya in the 4th. With one out, LF Norichika Aoki singled and DH Atsunori Inaba doubled. 3B Shuichi Murata was retired. 1B Michihiro Ogasawara hit one deep to CF Yoennis Céspedes, who made a crucial two-run error by dropping the ball.

In the 5th, 2B Akinori Iwamura drew a leadoff walk from Yulieski González. RF Ichiro Suzuki popped up on a botched bunt attempt. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima drew a walk as well. Ismel Jiménez relieved and gave up a RBI single to Aoki. In the bottom of the sixth, Cuba got as close to scoring as they would when Céspedes hit a two-out triple but was stranded.

Iwamura began the 7th with a walk, then moved to third on a Suzuki single. A Nakajima sacrifice fly put Japan ahead 4-0. With one out in the 9th, Suzuki tripled off Vladimir García and Nakajima got plunked. Danny Betancourt relieved and gave up a RBI single to Aoki to end the scoring.

Iwakuma only needed 69 pitches in 6 innings of work, giving up 5 hits and a walk. Sugiuchi tossed three perfect relief innings. Aoki went 4 for 5 with a run and 2 RBI, getting half of Japan's hits.

[edit] March 19

at PETCO Park
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 3 1 6 15 3
Flag of South Korea South Korea 1 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 6 3
Pitchers of Record
Win: Hideaki Wakui (1-0) Loss: Seung-hwan Oh (0-1)
Home Runs
Japan: Seiichi Uchikawa in 2nd inning, 1 RBI
South Korea: Bum-ho Lee in 7th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Bill Miller (USA); 1B: Paul Hyham (Australia); 2B: Joe West (USA); 3B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:42
Attendance: 14,832

Japan and South Korea met for the 4th time this Classic, with Japan evening the matches at two games apiece.

In the bottom of the first, South Korea took the lead against Tetsuya Utsumi. 2B Keun-woo Jeong began with a single and was bunted over by RF Yong-kyu Lee. LF Hyun-soo Kim doubled home Jeong to give Korea a 1-0 edge.

In the top of the second, Japan stormed back. With one away, LF Seiichi Uchikawa homered off Won-sam Jang to tie the game. 1B Shuichi Murata singled, then took second on an error by CF Taek-keun Lee. 2B Akinori Iwamura singled and an error by SS Jung Choi sent Murata to third. C Shinnosuke Abe struck out, but 3B Yasuyuki Kataoka singled to put Japan ahead 2-1. Murata left the game in the 4th with a hamstring injury, sidelining him for the rest of the Classic.

The pitchers took over from there until the 7th. In the top of the seventh, Abe singled off Jae-woo Lee and Kataoka walked. RF Ichiro Suzuki flew out, though, and SS Hiroyuki Nakajima (back from missing two games due to the flu) hit into a double play. Korean 3B Bum-ho Lee tied it in the bottom of the inning with a solo shot off Masahiro Tanaka.

Japan took the lead back, this time for good, in the 8th. CF Norichika Aoki began the 8th with a single off new pitcher Seung-hwan Oh. PH Atsunori Inaba singled him to third, then Oh was yanked in favor of Kwang-hyun Kim. PH Michihiro Ogasawara singled home Aoki for a 3-2 lead. Backup LF Yoshiyuki Kamei bunted the runners over. Iwamura singled to center and Taek-keun Lee erred on the play, letting the runners come in for a 5-2 score.

Suzuki opened the 9th with a double off Tae-hoon Im and was bunted to third by Nakajima. Aoki singled home Suzuki and Inaba doubled. Ogasawara lined to first baseman Tae-kyun Kim, who fired to third to get Aoki for the double play. Kyuji Fujikawa closed out the win, giving up a Bum-ho Lee single but nothing else in the 9th.

[edit] March 21

at Dodger Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of South Korea South Korea 5 2 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 10 10 1
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2 9 5
Pitchers of Record
Win: Suk-min Yoon (2-0) Loss: Carlos Silva (1-1)
Home Runs
South Korea: Shin-soo Choo in 1st inning, 3 RBI; Tae-kyun Kim in 2nd inning, 2 RBI
Venezuela: Carlos Guillen in 7th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Ron Kulpa (USA); 1B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico); 2B: Paul Emmel (USA); 3B: Paul Hyham (Australia); LF: Derryl Cousins (USA); RF: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:22
Attendance: 43,378

The 2008 Gold Medalists in baseball cruised to victory, though the mainstream media seemed surprised as their accounts focused on how South Korea "only had one major leaguer" to Venezuela's MLB-loaded team. They apparently had forgotten that in the 2006 World Baseball Classic, the two finalists combined to have two major leaguers while the All-Star-laden clubs had all fallen by the wayside beforehand. The American ignorance of the quality of international baseball had remained unchanged.

South Korea sent 10 batters to the plate in the first, getting all the offense they would need. CF Yong-kyu Lee opened by drawing a Carlos Silva walk. 2B Keun-woo Jeong reached on an error by RF Bobby Abreu, the first of five miscues for Venezuela. LF Hyun-soo Kim singled in Lee. 1B Tae-kyun Kim singled as well. DH Dae-ho Lee was retired on a grounder back to the mound, scoring Jeong for a 2-0 lead. RF Shin-soo Choo then slammed a 3-run homer to put South Korea up by five. Silva let two other runners reach but escaped the inning with no more runs allowed.

With one out in the second, Hyun-soo Kim doubled and Tae-kyun Kim homered and South Korea now was ahead 7-0. The ineffective Silva was yanked in favor of Enrique Gonzalez. Venezuela finally got on the board against Suk-min Yoon in the bottom of the third. SS Marco Scútaro singled with one out and CF Endy Chávez singled as well. 3B Melvin Mora added a third single to make it 7-1. In the 4th, South Korea got the run back, on a double by backup 2B Young-min Ko, a walk to Hyun-soo Kim and a pick-off throw that went away from 1B Miguel Cabrera for a run-scoring error.

After Gonzalez shut down South Korea mostly for 3 2/3 innings, he was replaced by Víctor Zambrano to open the sixth. South Korea got back to work. With one out, Hyun-soo Kim singled for his third hit of the game. PR Jong-wook Lee came in and stole second base then Tae-kyun Kim walked. Dae-ho Lee singled in Jong-wook Lee and South Korea led 9-1. Reliever Jan Granado issued a walk to Choo, loading the bases. Victor Moreno came in and 3B Jeong Choi greeted him with a sacrifice fly to give South Korea double digits in runs.

DH Carlos Guillen homered to begin the bottom of the 7th to make it 10-2 and neither team would score again. Yoon left after 7 1/3 innings of 2-run ball and Tae-hyon Chong, Hyun-jin Ryu, Hyun-wook Jong and Chang-yong Lim tossed scoreless ball the remainder of the way.

Hyun-soo Kim finished 3 for 3 with a walk, 2 runs and a RBI while Tae-kyun Kim went 2 for 4 with a walk, 3 runs and 2 RBI.

[edit] March 22

at Dodger Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 R H E
Flag of United States United States 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 2 0 4 9 3
Flag of Japan Japan 0 1 0 5 0 0 0 3 X 9 10 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Daisuke Matsuzaka (3-0) Loss: Roy Oswalt (1-1)
Home Runs
USA: Brian Roberts in 1st inning, 1 RBI
Japan: None
Umpires
HP: Paul Emmel (USA); 1B: Paul Hyham (Australia) ; 2B: Derryl Cousins (USA); 3B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); LF: Ron Kulpa (USA); RF: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico)
Time of Game: 3:15
Attendance: 43,630

Japan avenged their Bronze Medal game loss from the 2008 Olympics, while Daisuke Matsuzaka remained excellent in the World Baseball Classic.

The US got ahead early, when 2B Brian Roberts opened the game with a home run. Japan tied it in the second. DH Atsunori Inaba drew a walk from Roy Oswalt, then 1B Michihiro Ogasawara singled him to third. Oswalt retired CF Kosuke Fukudome on a fly, then C Kenji Johjima hit a game-tying sacrifice fly.

In the third, the US took its last lead. With two out, DH Jimmy Rollins singled and stole second, then came home on a double by 3B David Wright.

Japan then lit up Oswalt in the 4th. Inaba began with a single, then Ogasawara singled as well. Fukudome grounded to Roberts, whose error let Inaba score and put runners on the corners. Johjima hit his second sacrifice fly, making it 3-2 Japan. 2B Akinori Iwamura tripled in Fukudome, then 3B Munenori Kawasaki singled home Iwamura for a 5-2 lead. RF Ichiro Suzuki grounded Kawasaki over. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima delivered a RBI double on a 3-0 count to make it 6-2. John Grabow replaced Oswalt and escaped further harm.

The 6-2 score remained in place from the 5th through the 7th as Matsuzaka, Toshiya Sugiuchi, Grabow, J.P. Howell, Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Thornton tossed shutout ball.

In the top of the 8th, LF Ryan Braun delivered a one-out single off Takahiro Mahara and C Brian McCann followed with a walk. 1B Mark DeRosa doubled home both runs and LF Norichika Aoki made a throwing error on the play. Mahara recovered to fan PH Evan Longoria and get Roberts on a grounder to preserve the lead, now down to 6-4.

Japan tacked on insurance in the bottom of the eighth off Joel Hanrahan. Fukudome began the inning with a walk; PR Yasuyuki Kataoka was bunted over by Johjima. Iwamura grounded Kataoka to third. Kawasaki grounded to Jeter, who continued to blow it in the clutch by throwing away the ball, scoring Kataoka. Scot Shields relieved. Kawasaki stole second, then came home on a single by Suzuki. Nakajima doubled in Suzuki to end the scoring.

Yu Darvish came in to close up the 9-4 game. He got Jeter but Rollins singled. Darvish then blew away Wright and RF Adam Dunn to end the game.

[edit] March 23

at Dodger Stadium
Team 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 R H E
Flag of Japan Japan 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 1 0 2 5 15 0
Flag of South Korea South Korea 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 3 5 1
Pitchers of Record
Win: Yu Darvish (2-1) Loss: Chang-yong Lim (0-1)
Home Runs
Japan:None
South Korea: Shin-soo Choo in 5th inning, 1 RBI
Umpires
HP: Derryl Cousins (USA) ; 1B: Carlos Rey (Puerto Rico); 2B: Ron Kulpa (USA); 3B: Willie Rodriguez (Puerto Rico); LF: Paul Emmel (USA); RF: Paul Hyham (Australia)
Time of Game: 4:00
Attendance: 54,846

The exciting World Baseball Classic finished on a high note, with an extra-inning extravaganza. South Korea and Japan faced off for the fifth time, with the continental rivals having split their first four matches evenly. South Korean skipper In-sik Kim turned to Jung Bong, the former major leaguer who twice had beaten Japan, while Tatsunori Hara countered with Hisashi Iwakuma, the most recent Sawamura Award winner.

After two scoreless innings, Japan took the lead in the third. SS Hiroyuki Nakajima singled. CF Norichika Aoki grounded to 2B Young-min Ko, who made an error. C Kenji Johjima hit into a force at second, then 1B Michihiro Ogasawara delivered a RBI single. LF Seiichi Uchikawa singled to put runners on the corners, but Bong recovered by getting DH Kenta Kurihara to ground into a double play.

In the 5th, Nakajima drew a leadoff walk from Bong. Aoki singled him to third base. Hyun-wook Jong relieved and escaped the jam. Johjima struck out. With two strikes, Aoki broke for second; Ogaswara struck out as C Kyung-wan Park fired to second for the double play. South Korea tied it in the bottom of the fifth when RF Shin-soo Choo homered to center off Iwakuma.

Jong finally faded a bit in the 7th. 3B Yasuyuki Kataoka led off the inning with a single. He stole second, then took third on a bunt hit by RF Ichiro Suzuki. Nakajima singled in Kataoka, but Aoki was retired and Johjima hit into a double play to prevent more damage.

Uchikawa singled with one out in the 8th and In-sik Kim replaced Jong with Hyun-jin Ryu. The former KBO MVP immediately yielded a ground-rule double to backup DH Atsunori Inaba. 2B Akinori Iwamura drove a fly ball to left field, scoring Uchikawa and putting Japan ahead 3-1.

After allowing one run through 7, Iwakuma tired in the 8th. 3B Bum-ho Lee doubled, just the 4th hit allowed by the Rakuten Golden Eagles ace. Ko grounded Lee to third, then PH Dae-ho Lee delivered a sacrifice fly to close the gap to a run.

Suzuki led off the 9th with a double off Chang-yong Lim, but was stranded. In the bottom of the 9th, Hara turned to Yu Darvish to close it up despite Darvish's struggles in his prior outing against South Korea. Darvish fanned PH Keun-woo Jeong. LF Hyun-soo Kim drew a walk. Darvish also walked 1B Tae-kyun Kim, then fanned Choo. With the game on the line, Bum-ho Lee singled to left to tie the score. Ko struck out to force extra innings.

In the 10th, Uchikawa opened with a single to right. Inaba bunted him over, then Iwamura singled Uchikawa to third. PH Munenori Kawasaki popped up to short. Iwamura took second on defensive indifference. Suzuki then delivered the big blow, his 4th hit of the game, a 2-run single to center field to give Japan a 5-3 lead. Japan then loaded the bases before Lim retired Johjima on an inning-ending strikeout.

In the bottom of the tenth, Hara stuck with Darvish, who walked backup C Min-ho Kang, the third walk given out by the Iranian-Japanese hurler. Jeong Choi was called on to pinch-hit, the potential game-tying run, but the 2008 Korean Series MVP struck out, Darvish's 4th K. LF Yong-kyu Lee flew out, bringing up Jeong. Darvish missed the plate with a 95-mph heater but then threw three straight sliders past the infielder to end the game and give Japan its second consecutive World Baseball Classic title.

[edit] All-Tournament Team

[edit] Statistics

[edit] Batting Leaders

A minimum 2.7 plate appearances/game needed to qualify for rate stats

At Bats

Hits

Runs

Doubles

Triples

Home Runs

Runs Batted In

Total Bases

Walks

Strikeouts

Stolen Bases

Batting Average

On-Base Percentage

Slugging Percentage

On-base plus Slugging


[edit] Pitching Leaders

A minimum 0.8 innings pitched/game needed to qualify

Wins

Losses

Saves

Games

Games Started

Complete Games

  • None

Shutouts

  • None

Innings Pitched

Hits Allowed

Runs Allowed

Earned Runs Allowed

Home Runs Allowed

Batters Hit

Walks

Strikeouts

Holds

Games Finished

Earned Run Average

    • Toshiya Sugiuchi allowed no earned runs in 6 1/3 IP but did not meet the inning qualifications as Japan played more games than the Dominicans

Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched

    • Toshiya Sugiuchi had a 0.32 WHIP in more innings than any of the above hurlers but did not meet the inning criteria due to Japan's playing more games than the above teams

[edit] Team Batting

Ordered by OPS
Team G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI TB BB SO SB CS AVG OBP SLG OPS
Flag of Mexico Mexico 6 203 47 62 13 0 14 43 117 28 42 4 1 .305 .403 .576 .979
Flag of Australia Australia 3 100 22 34 3 0 5 21 52 8 28 2 0 .340 .417 .520 .937
Flag of Cuba Cuba 6 201 36 63 10 3 11 34 112 17 39 1 2 .313 .376 .557 .923
Flag of United States United States 8 274 50 81 15 4 12 49 140 43 50 7 3 .296 .393 .511 .904
Flag of Venezuela Venezuela 8 280 45 85 20 4 13 42 152 21 42 7 2 .304 .357 .543 .900
Flag of Puerto Rico Puerto Rico 6 199 31 54 12 2 7 31 91 39 40 6 2 .286 .409 .481 .890
Flag of Canada Canada 2 65 7 14 7 0 2 6 27 15 16 0 0 .215 .370 .415 .786
Flag of South Korea South Korea 9 267 53 65 8 1 11 50 108 50 57 9 2 .243 .371 .404 .775
Flag of Japan Japan 9 308 50 92 13 2 4 41 121 35 53 11 4 .299 .371 .393 .764
Flag of Dominican Republic Dominican Republic 3 104 12 23 2 0 4 11 37 18 16 0 1 .221 .339 .356 .694
Flag of Italy Italy 3 102 7 24 10 0 0 7 34 15 23 1 1 .235 .342 .333 .675
Flag of Chinese Taipei Chinese Taipei 2 59 1 12 1 0 0 1 13 8 12 0 1 .203 .299 .220 .519
Flag of South Africa South Africa 2 64 4 11 1 2 0 4 16 3 17 0 0 .172 .209 .250 .459
Flag of Netherlands Netherlands 6 197 10 37 5 0 1 7 45 9 61 0 3 .199 .230 .218 .458
Flag of People's Republic of China People's Republic of China 3 84 4 16 2 0 1 4 21 2 17 3 1 .190 .207 .250 .457
Flag of Panama Panama 2 62 0 11 1 0 0 0 12 5 16 1 1 .177 .261 .194 .454

(List in progress)

[edit] Rule Changes

  • Since the 2006 World Baseball Classic (beginning in the 2008 World Junior Championship), international competitions had instituted an unusual rule. Following the 10th inning, teams began with two runners on base to try to speed up the games. Though this rule was widely criticized during the 2008 Olympics, a similar rule will be in place during the 2009 WBC wherein the rule is enacted starting in the 13th inning. This rule might be eliminated altogether for the finals.
  • The competition will be double-elimination in the first five games of the first two rounds, a change from the previous format. It will be single-elimination in the finals.
  • Teams must announce their starting pitchers a day before each game.
  • Pitch count limits will be 70 per pitcher per game in round one, 85 in round two and 100 thereafter (they had been 65/80/95 in 2006)
  • A pitcher who throws 30+ pitches in the semifinals will not be allowed to pitch in the finals.

[edit] Photos

[edit] Umpires

36 umpires, from nine of the countries competing in the tournament, have been assigned to World Baseball Classic games. Four-man umpire crews were assigned the games of the first two rounds (2 MLB umpires/2 international) and six-man crews will be assigned to the games of the Semi-Finals and Final (3 MLB/3 international).

For a list of umpires, see 2009 World Baseball Classic (Umpires).

[edit] References

among others,

[edit] External links

World Baseball Classic
2006 | 2009 | 2013
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