Jonathan Schoop walked into the Netherlands’ postgame news conference just as he was finishing off a small cup of ice cream.
If anyone deserved a treat, it was Schoop, who spent the previous three hours doing everything possible to finish off Cuba.
Schoop helped turn four double plays in the field, finished with four RBIs, and was a triple away from the cycle as he helped the Netherlands beat Cuba 6-2 in the opening game of the World Baseball Classic’s second round on Friday at Tokyo Dome.
“Maybe I just see the ball well, and try to put the ball in play,” Schoop said. “I feel comfortable everyday.”
Schoop struck out his first time up and singled off the wall in the second inning. He popped out in the fourth, before hitting a three-run homer in the sixth. Schoop doubled in a run in the eighth and grounded it out with the bases loaded in the ninth. The home run was Schoop’s second of the tournament.
“We had a plan today,” Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. “Like I told the guys before the game, we had a plan to attack these guys, and guys executed.”
Cuban manager Victor Mesa didn’t think much of the loss.
“I don’t think they’re a very good team to be honest,” Mesa said through a translator. “I think we could’ve scored more. I think we should’ve score four or five more runs.”
Netherlands first baseman Curt Smith hit a solo home run in the second and Andrelton Simmons had an RBI single later in the inning to account for the team’s first two runs.
The run support was enough for starter Diegomar Markwell, who was far from spectacular, but good enough to hold down the Cubans, giving the Dutch six innings and allowing one run on nine hits.”
“Until we got that lead, 2-1, I said ‘I’m going to shut them down and try to get as many outs as I can and help my team win the ball game,’ ” Markwell said.
The Netherlands’ pitchers gave up 12 hits, but were aided by four ground ball double plays turned by the middle infield duo of Simmons, at shortstop, and Schoop. The Dutch converted another double play after Simmons threw out Eriel Sanchez at first after catching a popup from Barbaro Arruebarruena.
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a play like Simmons made in the game today,” Meulens said. “Going into center field after Roger (Bernadina) couldn’t pick up the ball against the roof, catching the ball, getting up and throwing back to first, double play. That’s one of the greatest plays I’ve ever seen.”
The Netherlands will meet the winner of Friday’s game between Taiwan and Japan on Sunday with a spot in the final round at San Francisco’s AT&T Park on the line.
Cuba sent ace Ismel Jimenez to the mound, but the right-hander only lasted 1⅔ innings after allowing two runs on five hits.
The Netherlands took a two-run lead in the second on Smith’s home run and an RBI single by Simmons.
Cuba pulled a run back on a solo homer from Pool A MVP Alferdo Despaigne to begin the Cuban half of the second, but didn’t add another until Yunileski Gourriel went deep in the seventh to make the score 5-2.
D.R. routs Venezuela
Before the Dominican Republic played its first game in the World Baseball Classic, Jose Reyes warned that the team’s only goal was to win the championship.
Opponents take note: The Dominicans are serious about it.
Reyes had four hits, Robinson Cano drove in three runs and the Dominican Republic beat Venezuela 9-3 on Thursday night in their WBC opener.
“I think these men are on a mission,” Dominican Republic manager Tony Pena said, acknowledging even he was surprised by all the offense. “They’re on a mission, and they don’t want to waste a moment.”
In the first game of Group C play, Hanley Ramirez hit a long home run and Cano went 3-for-5 with two doubles to help the Dominicans get off to a strong start in a first-round pool that also includes Puerto Rico and Spain.
Nelson Cruz and Alejandro De Aza each drove in two runs. Venezuela starter Anibal Sanchez faced seven batters and got only one out.
Venezuela slugger Miguel Cabrera went 0-for-4 with a walk.
Meanwhile, in Scottsdale, Arizona, Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run double in the ninth inning and closer Jason Grilli escaped a bases-loaded jam in the bottom half of the frame to help Italy beat Mexico 6-5 in Thursday’s opening game of Pool D.
Closer Sergio Romo blew the save for Mexico.