World Baseball Classic Roundup: Australia Stuns South Korea In Pool B Opener
Australia 8, South Korea 7
What Happened: Tim Kennelly, Robbie Glendinning and Robbie Perkins all homered and Australia held off a late rally to upset South Korea in the Pool B opener at the Tokyo Dome. South Korea held a 4-2 lead after six innings, but Glendinning put Australia ahead with a long three-run homer in the seventh and Perkins added another three-run homer in the eighth that proved decisive. South Korea rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to cut the deficit to 8-7 and had the bases loaded, but Australia sidearmer Sam Holland struck out Sung Bum Na to end the inning one pitch after Na barely missed a double when his long fly off the left-field wall sliced foul. Tommy Edman led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk to put the tying run on for South Korea, but Australia closer Josh Guyer retired the next two hitters and Perkins threw out Edman trying to steal second base to end the game.
Stars of the Game: Perkins, a former Rockies minor leaguer, went 1-for-3 with a homer, three RBIs and two runs scored and ended the game with a bullet to nail Edman at second base. Catcher Euji Yang went 2-for-3 with a three-run homer for South Korea.
Prospect of Note: Center fielder Jung Hoo Lee, the top MLB prospect in South Korea, went 1-for-4 with a walk and two runs scored batting in the No. 3 spot behind Edman and Padres shortstop Ha-Seong Kim. Phillies prospect Rixon Wingrove went 2-for-3 with a pair of singles for Australia.
What It Means: South Korea finds itself in an immediate hole with one loss on the books and a date with mighty Japan still to come. Australia now just needs to beat China and the Czech Republic, the two weakest teams in the WBC field, to advance to the second round.
Netherlands 3, Panama 1
What Happened: Xander Bogaerts and Jurickson Profar both homered and the Dutch never trailed to move to 2-0 in pool play. Bogaerts opened the scoring with a solo homer in the third off Panama starter Jaime Barria, Profar added a solo shot in the fifth against reliever Alberto Guerrero and Bogaerts doubled and scored on a wild pitch in the eighth. Erasmo Caballero singled home Dodgers prospect Jose Ramos for Panama’s only run in the sixth. Shairon Martis started and pitched 3.1 scoreless innings for the Dutch, and the bullpen continued its early dominance by holding Panama to one run over the final 5.2 innings.
Stars of the Game: Bogaerts went 3-for-4 with a double, a homer and two runs scored for the Netherlands. Profar went 2-for-3 with a walk and a homer out of the leadoff spot.
Prospect of Note: Ramos, the Dodgers No. 23 prospect, went 1-for-4 with a single and a run scored for Panama.
What It Means: The Netherlands is in the driver’s seat to win Pool A and controls its own destiny. The Dutch will be well-rested with two off days before facing Taiwan on March 11 with a chance to all but wrap up the pool. Panama is showing it could be a tougher out than expected after pounding host Taiwan in the opener and hanging tough with a heavily favored Dutch team. The Panamanians will face Cuba in a critical game for both teams’ chances to advance on Thursday.