By Chris Kabout
In the second game vs Samurai Japan (Japan’s fourth game in as many days), the Kingdom of the Netherlands played a good game once again. The Dutch started well as they took a 2-0 lead in the first inning. Eventually the Dutch blew an 8-2 lead as their pitching collapsed in the top of the seventh and Japan scored six runs in that inning. Eventually a grand slam homerun in the tie-break gave the victory to Japan.
In the first inning, Japanese starting pitcher Kenta Ishida did not start well as he hit the lead off batter with a pitch and walked the next. Yurendell De Caster then singled to center field to drive in Christopher Garia for the opening run. Dashenko Ricardo drove in the next run with a single to third base.
Samurai Japan got on the board in the top of the second inning when Isashi Ohno drove in a run as he singled to right field with runners in scoring position. The Dutch would add two more runs in the bottom of that very same inning when Yurendell De Caster doubled to center field to drive in Dwayne Kemp and Christopher Garia.
Both teams scored a run in the fourth before the Dutch really walked away in the fifth when Sharlon Schoop hit a towering homerun to drive in three.
A disastrous seventh inning eventually led to the downfall of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in this game. Doubles by Shohei Otani, and Yoshitumo Tsutsugo and singles by Nakamura, Suzuki and Matsuda made the Dutch offense collapse in the top of the seventh as relievers Wendell Floranus and Byron Cornelisse gave up four runs to bring Japan back within two runs from the Dutch.
When manager Hensley Meulens replaced Byron Cornelisse with Loek van Mil, Japan scored two more to tie the game at eight. Loek van Mil loaded the bases by walking Takuya Nakashima but he got out of the inning without further damage.
Tom de Blok worked his way through the eighth and ninth inning but he had some problems keeping the runners off base as he loaded the bases in the eighth and put runners on first and second in the ninth. But eventually he did not allow any runs.
After the Dutch did not score in the ninth, a tie-break was needed once again.
After Japan loaded the bases, Kevin Kelly served up a pitch to Suzuki that cleared the fences for a grand slam homerun.
The Dutch started a rally in their part of the tenth inning. With runners in scoring position, Dashenko Ricardo singled to right field to drive in one run. A passed ball on a strike out by Stijn van der Meer, added one more run for the Dutch but that was all the Dutch could do.
It became clear that the lack of pitching depth cost the Dutch the game. After decent outings by Diegomar Markwell and Juan Carlos Sulbaran, the relievers could not get a grip on the game. Eventually Kevin Kelly took the loss after he gave up a grand slam in the tenth inning. Ryo Akiyoshi earned the win. Shota Takeda earned the save after pitching the tenth.
Best hitter for the Dutch was Dwayne Kemp, who went 2 for 3 with two singles.
Seiya Suzuki was the best hitter for Japan as he went 3 for 5 with a homerun.
Of course this was a practice game in which manager Hensley Meulens wanted to see what the selected players are capable of. It is clear that in some cases the relief pitching needs