Team USA Beats the Netherlands, Avoids Elimination in WBC

Eugene Kingsale tries to get his hand on a ball hit by the Orioles' Brian Roberts. Roberts wound up with a triple.
Eugene Kingsale tries to get his hand on a ball hit by the Orioles' Brian Roberts. Roberts wound up with a triple. (By Lynne Sladky -- Associated Press)
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By Amy Shipley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, March 16, 2009

MIAMI, March 15 -- Manhandling a bunch of honkbal-ers from the Netherlands hardly established Team USA as the team to beat in the World Baseball Classic on Sunday night, but it at least staved off what would have been a humiliating exit from the event's second round.

A night after losing by 10 runs to Puerto Rico in a game called after seven innings because of the tournament's mercy rule, the United States teed off against the overachieving Dutch to stay alive, winning by a 9-3 margin and ending the Netherlands' fairy tale run.

The United States, which will face the loser of Monday night's Puerto Rico-Venezuela game here Tuesday, hurt the Netherlands with a slow and methodical pounding in front of a crowd of 11,059 at Dolphin Stadium.

The Dutch, who produced a pair of stunning upsets of the Dominican Republic in the first round, will head home knowing they produced the tournament's most inspiring story line. And they didn't go down without showing fight Sunday night, albeit not so much with their bats.

"We were able to do something very special," Manager Rod Delmonico said. "No one gave us a chance. It just shows you what happens when a group of people come together . . . and play for the name on the front of their jerseys instead of the names on the back."

The game's most dramatic and compelling moment came long after the outcome seemed decided, and it erased any image of the orange-capped Dutch as a bunch of happy-go-lucky ballplayers just glad to have made it so far.

After Dutch outfielder Bryan Engelhardt blasted the first pitch of the eighth inning into the right field seats for the Netherlands' second run of the night and first home run of the Classic, U.S. pitcher Matt Lindstrom threw a pitch behind the next batter, infielder Vince Rooi.

As Rooi stared down Lindstrom, his teammates poured out of the dugout in protest and Delmonico gave the umpiring crew an earful.

Once order was restored, Rooi flied out to right field. As he circled to return to his dugout, he brushed by Lindstrom and, in a calculated breach of baseball etiquette, ran directly over the mound.

"It's one thing to throw inside . . . but to throw it up around someone's head . . . there's no room for that anywhere, especially at the World Baseball Classic," Delmonico said. I thought that was classless, to be honest with you."

U.S. Manager Davey Johnson said the pitch got away from Lindstrom because his shoulder was sore and he shouldn't have been out there to begin with.

Saturday's 11-1 thrashing seemed to provide a jolt to the Americans, who wanted to improve upon their disappointing sixth-place finish in the inaugural Classic three years ago and faced elimination if they lost.

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