Japan Beats Netherlands In Meaningless Pool Final

While both teams already had clinched spots in the World Baseball Classic semifinals, Japan wrapped up an undefeated run through Pool 1 by beating the Netherlands 10-6 Tuesday in Tokyo.

The Dutch played shorthanded again thanks to injuries to outfielders Wladimir Balentien and Roger Bernadina, as well as versatile veteran Yurendell DeCaster. None played Tuesday, and key defenders in catcher Dashenko Ricardo (Giants) and shortstop Andrelton Simmons (Braves) came out of the game early, after Japan had taken an 8-0 lead in the second inning.

Simmons homered to lead off the game, but Japan batted around and then some in the second. Veteran catcher Shinnosuke Abe, playing DH due to a lingering knee injury, hit a pair of home runs in the second inning for Japan, which scored just 13 runs in the first round but 30 in the second, including 26 runs in a pair of victories against the Dutch.

Abe has been pinch-run for frequently and has had his playing time rationed due to his injury but still is tied for Japan's team lead with seven RBIs in six games. Center fielder Hisayoshi Chono, a consistent .300 hitter for the Yomiuri Giants, had two hits and five RBIs, including a bases-clearing double in the second.

The game was played to determine seeding in San Francisco and means the Japanese will be the top seed from Pool 1. The means Japan plays in the first semifinal on Sunday, March 17 at 9 p.m. Eastern. Japan's opponent will be the second-place team from Pool 2, which starts tonight and includes the Dominican Republic, Italy, Puerto Rico and the United States. The Netherlands plays in Monday's 9 p.m. Eastern semifinal against the first-place finisher from Pool 2.