The Associated Press TOKYO (AP) — Slugger Wladimir Balentien homered twice and drove in five runs as the Netherlands overpowered Cuba 14-1 in seven innings on Wednesday at the World Baseball Classic.
Balentien, who plays for the Tokyo Yakult Swallows, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and added a solo blast in the third as the Netherlands jumped out to a 7-0 lead.
The Netherlands improved to 2-1 in Pool E. Depending on the outcome of Japan’s game Wednesday night with Israel, the Netherlands will either advance directly to next week’s championship round in Los Angeles or have a Thursday tiebreaker game at Tokyo Dome.
A Japan win would guarantee the Netherlands a spot in the semifinals, while an Israel win would leave three teams at 2-1 and bring the tournament’s tiebreaker rule into effect.
On Tuesday night, Tetsuto Yamada hit two home runs to lead Japan to an 8-5 win over Cuba at Tokyo Dome.
Pinch hitter Seiichi Uchikawa broke a 5-5 tie on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning and Yamada made it 8-5 with a two-run shot to center field.
Yamada also hit a leadoff homer in the first inning.
“I wasn’t pleased with my batting in the first four games,” Yamada said. “I was determined to do better today. I felt good in batting practice and felt this could be my day.”
Cuba took a 4-2 lead in the fourth on Victor Mesa’s single to left. Japan tied it in the fifth on RBIs by Norichika Aoki and Yoshitomo Tsutsugo.
Each team scored a run in the sixth.
Tsutsugo also had a big game at the plate for Japan. His three hits in his first three at-bats included game-tying singles in the third and fifth innings.
Molina powers Puerto Rico
SAN DIEGO (AP) — Yadier Molina homered and hit an RBI single to lead exuberant Puerto Rico to a 3-1 victory against the Dominican Republic in the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday night.
Eddie Rosario doubled in the go-ahead run in the fourth and also threw out a runner at the plate for Puerto Rico, which snapped the Dominicans’ 11-game WBC winning streak.
It was a rematch of the 2013 WBC title game, which the Dominicans won 3-0 at San Francisco’s AT&T Park.
The small but peppy crowd at Petco Park chanted, clapped, waved flags and banged cowbells throughout the game.
The Puerto Ricans responded with the joy of Little Leaguers. After right fielder Rosario threw out Jean Segura at the plate with a one-hopper to catcher Molina to end the top of the first, pitcher Orlando Roman jumped in the air while Molina punched the air in celebration. Teammates converged on Rosario and chest-bumped him so hard he fell down.
After Molina threw out Nelson Cruz trying to steal second to end the eighth, the catcher again jumped for joy and the infielders practically skipped off the field. Second baseman Javier Baez threw the ball all the way into the third deck at Petco Park.
Edwin Diaz struck out Segura to earn the save and an emotional hug from Molina. One of the Puerto Rico players tossed the rosin bag in the air.
The Puerto Ricans won Pool D in Jalisco, Mexico. Cruz homered for the Dominicans, who won Pool C in Miami before large, boisterous crowds.
Dominican manager Tony Pena was ejected after arguing a strike call in the eighth. He ran out and got into umpire Will Little’s face, and then slipped and fell to the ground.