In another stunning, improbable victory, the Netherlands came from behind last night in the 11th inning to once again defeat the high-powered Dominican Republic, 2-1, to advance to the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
The Netherlands are basically a collection of minor league players mixed in with a few guys who've had limited MLB experience. The DR puts out an All-Star worthy lineup. 23 Dominican players play in MLB, while the Dutch have two. And once again, the Dutch pulled off another incredible win. The game remained scoreless until the 11th inning when the Dominicans scratched out a run when Jose Reyes scored from first when a ball hit to the outfield was misjudged.
In the bottom of the 11th, the Dutch tied it on onetime MLB player Eugene Kingsale's single, and he moved to third on an errant pickoff. He scored the winning run when a grounder to first went off Willy Aybar's glove and he threw late to first. It set off some wild on-field celebrations.
Now, the Dutch move on to the second round with Puerto Rico, and will be matched up with the US and Venezuela. The Dominicans now go home and face the ire of their countrymen, and I bet the Dominican papers are letting the team have it this morning.
One good thing: David Ortiz now makes an early return back to Red Sox camp.
Australia nearly pulled off a stunning upset later in the night as well in Mexico City against Cuba, as they had a 4-3 lead in the eighth. (I had just gotten back from Trivia Night and couldn't believe the score on the screen.) But the Aussies' dream of pulling off a Dutch-like upset died that inning when a two-run blast put Cuba back in the lead to stay, 5-4. Cuba now advances to Round 2, and the Aussies get another shot to advance tonight, when they have another match against host Mexico.