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First four teams advance in World Baseball Classic

Ex-Yankees Andruw Jones, Chien-Ming Wang moving on to Pool 1
03/05/2013 11:24 AM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andruw Jones led The Netherlands with a .429 average in Pool B play.(AP)
With Pool B completed and just one game left in Pool A, the first four teams have officially qualified for the second round of the 2013 World Baseball Classic – and the three ex-Yankees moving on to the next phase of pool play had a lot to do with their teams’ advancement.

Early Tuesday morning Eastern time, Pool B was completed in Taichung, Taiwan, as Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens’ Netherlands team defeated Australia, 4-1, before South Korea ended pool play by earning a comeback 3-2 victory over Chien-Ming Wang and Chinese Taipei.

When all was said and done, The Netherlands, South Korea, and Chinese Taipei all tied for first at 2-1, but run differential tiebreaker means that the Taiwanese team advances as the pool winner and the Dutch move on as the runner up; South Korea finishes third and also assures themselves of a spot in the 2017 WBC, and the 0-3 Australia team will be relegated to the qualifying round for the next Classic.

Overall, the two ex-Yankees players headed to Pool 1 play in Tokyo later this week had solid outings in the first round-robin; Jones hit .429 (3-for-7) with three walks and a run scored in three games as The Netherlands’ DH, while Wang threw six innings of four-hit shutout ball and took the victory in Chinese Taipei’s tournament-opening win over Australia.

By going 2-1, Chinese Taipei advances to the second round of the World Baseball Classic for the first time – and in fact won twice as many games as they had in the previous two Classics total – while The Netherlands returns four years after a stunning 2009 run that saw them knock off the heavily-favored Dominican Republic twice in first-round play to move on.

They will begin second round play in pool 1 on Friday afternoon local time (late Thursday night ET), and while the know they will be joined by Cuba and two-time defending Classic champs Japan, they don’t know their actual draw as of yet.

As of Tuesday morning, Cuba and Japan both stand at 2-0, and will meet early Wednesday morning Eastern time in the final game of Pool A; the winner will take first place in the pool and go on to meet The Netherlands in their first Pool 1 games, while the loser will meet Chinese Taipei in the pool opener.

Earlier Tuesday, the penultimate game of Pool A play saw China score five runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to beat Brazil, 5-2, moving the Chinese to 1-2 and assuring them a spot in the 2017 Classic while relegating Barry Larkin’s 0-3 Brazilian squad to the qualifiers.

Japan, Cuba, Chinese Taipei, and The Netherlands will compete in Pool 1 play from March 8-12 at the Tokyo Dome, with the winner and runner-up of that modified double-elimination bracket advancing to the single-elimination semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco March 17 and 18.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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