Taiwan Takes Command In Pool B, Beats Netherlands

Netherlands and host Taiwan entered Saturday’s game tied atop Pool B with first-game victories against South Korea and Austrlia, respectively. The winner of their contest would be nearly ensured of being one of the two teams to advance to the second round out of pool play, making it the most crucial of the World Baseball Classic so far.

Taiwan responded with a dominating performance, rallying from an early 3-0 deficit to win 8-3 in front of a capacity crowd of 20,035 in Taichung. Six Taiwan pitchers limited the Netherlands to one hit, a two-run second-inning single by Dashenko Ricardo (Giants).

Ricardo’s single to center capped a three-run rally by the Dutch in the second inning off Wang Yao-Lin, who walked three. Reliever Pan Wei-Lun gave up the single to Ricardo but subsequently shut down the Dutch for 4.2 innings, giving up only one walk the rest of his outing. The Netherlands had another chance when 18-year-old Tseng Jen-Ho walked a pair in the seventh but couldn’t capitalize.

Down 3-0 early, Taiwan got a run back in the second off Dutch righthander Tom Stuifbergen (Twins), who has excelled in international competition, including four shutout innings against the Dominican Republic in his previous WBC start, in 2009. Taiwan took the lead with a four-run fourth inning, scoring their first run on a bases-loaded hit batsman that chased Stuifbergen.

Taiwan leadoff hitter Yang Dai-Kang put the exclamation mark on the victory in the sixth, capping a three-run inning by hitting a two-run homer to right field.

The Netherlands’ final game in pool play will be against winless Australia, while Taiwan plays South Korea.