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(2nd LD) (WBC) S. Korea stunned by Netherlands at WBC

All Headlines 01:02 March 03, 2013

(ATTN: ADDS comments by managers, players)
By Yoo Jee-ho

TAICHUNG, Taiwan, March 2 (Yonhap) -- South Korea was stunned by the Netherlands 5-0 on Saturday in its first game at the 2013 World Baseball Classic (WBC) here in Taiwan.

In the first-round action at Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium, the Netherlands got timely hits from the heart of their lineup and took advantage of South Korean errors for the upset over the runner-up from the 2009 WBC.

Andruw Jones, with 434 career homers in Major League Baseball (MLB), went 2-for-4 with a run, while Roger Bernadina, an outfielder for the Washington Nationals of the MLB, drove in two runs for the winning side.

South Korea committed four errors and managed only four hits, all of them singles.

The Dutch starter Diegomar Markwell limited South Korea to just two singles in four shutout innings for the win. The Netherlands' bullpen slammed the door shut on its opponent.

South Korea will next face Australia on Monday and Taiwan on Tuesday in Pool B play. All games will be played here in Taichung. After the loss Saturday, South Korea will likely have to win both games to advance to the next round.

Earlier in the day, Taiwan defeated Australia 4-1, as starter Wang Chien-Ming threw six shutout innings.

The top two teams from Pool B will advance to the second round, which will take place in Tokyo starting next Friday.

The Netherlands put the first run on the board in the bottom second. Jones hit a towering double to left off starter Yoon Suk-min, and later came around to score on a sacrifice fly by Curt Smith.

Smith almost had his second RBI in the bottom fourth with a single to left, but Jones was thrown out at home trying to score from second.

The Dutch pulled ahead with two runs in the fifth. The bases were loaded with one out, and Bernadina made it 2-0 with a grounder to second. Second baseman Jeong Keun-woo retired the lead runner at second but had no chance at an inning-ending double play.

The next batter, Wladimir Balentien, followed with a run-scoring single to left.

The Netherlands all but clinched the win with two more runs in the seventh. Bernadina picked up his second RBI of the game with a double to right.

Later in the inning, with the bases full, Jones hit a grounder back to pitcher Chong Tae-hyon. Chong got the force out at home but as catcher Kang Min-ho tried to get Jones at first for a double play, Jonathan Schoop slid into his leg.

Kang's throw to first went into right field, allowing Bernadina to score from second.

Kang left the game with an apparent left calf injury, but national team officials said it wasn't serious.

South Korea wasted a couple of scoring chances. In the top fourth with runners on corners and two outs, Kim Hyun-soo grounded out to first to end the rally. Then in the top seventh, South Korea again had runners on first and third with one out, but Kang Min-ho struck out swinging and pinch hitter Lee Seung-yeop popped out to second.

South Korean manager Ryu Joong-il apologized to fans for the shocking loss.

"We played a horrible game," he said. "Whether it was defense or our relief pitching, nothing went our way."

He said his hitters were unlucky early in the game when some of their hard-hit balls went straight to Dutch fielders.

"We will have to go back to training Sunday (the team's off day) and find ways to beat Australia and Taiwan," he said. "We will try our best with what little time we have left."

Hensley Meulens, the Dutch manager, said pitching, defense, and timely hits, made all the difference for his team.

"We got a very, very good start from Diegomar, and our big boys (in the lineup) did their job today," he said. "That's a combination for a winning formula."

The Netherlands will go right back to the field Sunday for a 2:30 p.m. game against Taiwan. Meulens said he will have a confident bunch at his side.

"We beat one of the best teams in the world, and when you get out there and play like we did today, you get confidence," he said. "But this game is over with. You have to turn the page over. We will have to pitch well and play good defense and have timely hits again to beat Taiwan tomorrow as well."

Markwell retired the first eight batters he faced to set the tone early. Though pitchers are restricted to 65 pitches per game in the first round, they may go over the cap to finish an at-bat. Markwell retired his final batter on his 72nd pitch.

The second Dutch pitcher, Orlando Yntema, was just as effective, giving up two hits in three innings. Mark Pawelek recorded the final out of the game for the save.

Markwell, who has nine U.S. minor league seasons under his belt, said he was pleased to have proven that "I can pitch at a high level and compete with anybody out there."

"The main thing was throwing strikes," he said. "Getting ahead of hitters (in counts) makes the game easier for the pitcher. It puts pressure on hitters, instead of putting pressure on us."

For the Dutch offense, Andrelton Simmons, shortstop for the MLB Atlanta Braves, went 3-for-5 with two runs scored from the leadoff spot. In contrast, South Korean leadoff man, Jeong Keun-woo, was 0-for-4.

Yoon Suk-min threw 4 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on four hits for the loss. He threw 58 pitches.

South Korea sent out six relief pitchers after Yoon, but the vaunted bullpen failed to live up to the hype.

Noh Kyung-eun, second pitcher, allowed two walks and a run in one inning of work, and Son Seung-lak, who followed Noh, was tagged for two runs in just 2/3 innings.


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