Netherlands 0


Puerto Rico 5


5:30 PM ET, March 11, 2009

123456789 R H E
NED 000000000 0 6 0
PUR 10002101X 5 10 0
W:J. Sanchez (1-0)
L:P. Walsma (0-1)

Puerto Rico handles Netherlands, U.S. game next

Associated Press

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- With strong pitching and timely hitting, Puerto Rico has been one of the most impressive teams at the World Baseball Classic.

Alex Rios hit an RBI triple and Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands 5-0 on Wednesday to finish undefeated in the first round of the World Baseball Classic.

Arangure: Baseball alive

The game might be making a comeback in Puerto Rico and might be coming alive in the Netherlands, writes Jorge Arangure Jr. Story

Next up, an enticing matchup with the United States.

"Our pitching was stupendous. The kids did a great job," Puerto Rico manager Jose Oquendo said. "We had confidence in our pitchers from the start. They know how to pitch in different situations and I know that this will take us far."

Carlos Beltran, Ivan Rodriguez and Geovany Soto each drove in a run for Puerto Rico (3-0), which won Group D and will face the U.S. in their second-round opener Saturday night in Miami.

Team USA was the runner-up in Group C, won by Venezuela.

It was the second win for Puerto Rico over the scrappy Dutch squad, which earlier eliminated the star-laden Dominican Republic with a pair of stunning upsets. The Netherlands (2-2) also is headed to the second round in Miami, where it will play Venezuela on Saturday.

"We came to win, but Puerto Rico also came to win and they played good ball," Netherlands first baseman Randall Simon said.

Jonathan Sanchez earned the win, allowing two hits in four strong innings. The San Francisco Giants lefty struck out four and walked one. Seven relievers combined to finish the shutout.

"I came to throw for real, no matter who the rival. We expected the Dominican Republic, but that didn't happen," Sanchez said.

After the game, Puerto Rico players danced on the field at Hiram Bithorn Stadium to Marc Anthony's song "Preciosa" and waved Puerto Rican flags.

Puerto Rico took advantage of Pim Walsma's early wildness to score its first run. Walsma walked Jesus Feliciano and uncorked a wild pitch that sent Feliciano scurrying all the way to third. The Netherlands pitcher then walked Ramon Vazquez, and Beltran grounded into a fielder's choice that scored Feliciano.

In the fifth, Netherlands reliever David Bergman walked Carlos Delgado before Rios hammered a triple to center field. Rodriguez singled to drive in Rios with Puerto Rico's third run.

Soto added an RBI single with the bases loaded in the sixth. Two innings later, Hiram Bocachica reached on an infield single, stole second and scored on a single by Alex Cora.

Puerto Rico outhit the Netherlands 10-6 but stranded 14 runners. Puerto Rico needed a late rally to win their first meeting, 3-1 on Monday night.

"We left many runners on base and this could have hurt us, but it was a good series for us," Delgado said. "Holland played well and was a surprise."

Simon said the two victories over the Dominican Republic left him feeling "like we'd won the World Series."


Game Information

Game Time: 2:55
Weather: 76 degrees, clear
Wind: 12 mph
Umpires: Home Plate - Eric Cooper, First Base - Luis Ramirez, Second Base - Laz Diaz, Third Base - Corrie Davis