Baseball World Cup
The Netherlands baseball team has made history winning the World Cup final in Panama after beating Cuba 2-1. It is the first time a European team has won the title since Britain did in 1938.
The Dutch players and team staff celebrated their victory in the Rod Carew stadium in Panama City with dozens of fans. The Dutch embassy and consulate had invited some 200 people to witness the historic duel, team manager Tjerk Smeets said. An hour after the end of the game, he said, all the champagne was long gone, but they were still on the pitch celebrating with all the fans.
The Netherlands played a near-perfect game, with veteran right hander Rob Cordeman, who held out for well over seven innings, giving an outstanding performance. For their part, young stars Shairon Schoop and Mariekson Gregorius ensured key defensive plays. David Bergman got the final two outs in the ninth and earned the save. In the ninth inning it was third baseman Jonathan Schoofs who caught newcomer Hector Olivera’s first pitch in his glove securing the decisive third out.
The Dutch, moreover, had yet two other awards to savour. Following the final, the technical commission of the International Baseball Federation (IBAF) declared Dutch player Curt Smith the most valuable player (MVP) of the Panama World Championship. Smith, aged 25, was responsible for one of the two points the Dutch scored in their 2-1 victory over the Cuban powerhouse. Tom Stuifbergen was declared best pitcher. Surprisingly the All Star team conspicuously lacked any Dutch players.
The Dutch baseball players will be honoured in the Netherlands on Tuesday, when federal coach Brian Farley and his team are due to return to the country.