Today, the Kingdom of the Netherlands U23 team became the first finalist as they beat Belgium 10-5. With this win, the Dutch also earned a ticket to the 2018 U23 World Cup. Even though the team remained unbeaten, today’s victory wasn’t as easy as it looked like on paper.
In the first inning, Belgium took a surprising 3-0 lead. Eight hitters stepped into the batter’s box and the Dutch committed two errors. With the eight batters coming at bat, it was quite a miracle no more runs were scored by Belgium in the first inning.
But in the next inning, with almost the same number of hitters in the batter’s box (seven), the Dutch managed to tie the game. With runners on the corners, Max Clarijs singled through the left side to drive in Rachid Engelhardt. After Ruar Verkerk stole third base, Nick Peels singled him home for the second run of the inning and made Max Clarijs to second. After Clarijs advanced to third on Delano Selassa’s force out at second. Eventually, Clarijs would score the game tying run.
In the next innings, two singles, a double, a walk and a 6-3 groundout drove in three more runs in the third inning, to give the Dutch a 6-3 lead.
After Nick Keur gave up the three runs to Belgium in the first inning, he cruised through the second frame before he got into trouble in the third again. With the bases loaded and two outs (thanks to a 4-6-3 double play), Keur was replaced by Tim Halderman, who recorded the final out.
After the Dutch added one more run to their score, Belgium got back in the game.
In the fifth inning, with runners on first and second, Rob Lewis scored on Yves Poesmans’ single down the left field line. When Lino Ballardini hit into a 4-6 force out, Axel Poesmans scored the second run of the fifth inning for Belgium. But from there, their offensive aspirations were kept in check.
In the seventh, Nick Peels hit a bases clearing triple with which he drove in two runs and in the ninth the tenth and final run for the Dutch was scored on a sac fly to center field, hit by Nick Peels.
Tim Halderman lasted 2.1 innings and gave up two runs on five hits. But the win went to Maickel Rietel, who pitched the final four innings in which he gave up only one hit and fanned four for the win.
The best hitter for team Kingdom of the Netherlands was Max Clarijs, who went 3 for 4 with a double, two RBI and a run scored. Nick Peels drove in four runs as he went 2 for 3 with a triple.
Other hitting results:
Max Draijer: 1 for 3
Jelle Kroft: 1 for 2 with a run scored
Denzel Richardson: 2 for 5 with a run scored
Kendrick Delima: 1 for 5 with a RBI and a run scored
Rashid Engelhardt: 3 for 5 with a double and three runs scored
Ruar Verkerk: 3 for 5 with a double, a RBI and two runs scored