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Andruw Jones leads The Netherlands into the World Baseball Classic semifinals

Jones scores winning run in Dutch squad's walk-off 7-6 win over Cuba
03/11/2013 12:39 PM ET
By Lou DiPietro

Andruw Jones is mobbed by teammates after scoring the winning run Monday. (AP)
Ex-Yankees outfielder Andruw Jones will play in Japan in 2013, but in getting his first taste of walk-off heroics at the Tokyo Dome during World Baseball Classic play on Monday, he earned himself at least one more game back in the United States.

That will come in the WBC semifinals at AT&T Park in San Francisco this weekend, as Jones scored the winning run to give The Netherlands a walk-off 7-6 win over Cuba in Pool 1 play and assure the Dutch squad a berth in the Final Four.

With one out in the bottom of the ninth and the game tied 6-6, Jones, who will play for the Tohuku Rakuten Golden Eagles of the NPB Pacific League this season, came up and started the winning rally by reaching on an error; three batters later, he scored on bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Mariners prospect Kalian Sams to push his home nation into the WBC semifinals.

For the game, Jones was 2-for-4 with an RBI and a run scored, and is hitting .455 in the tournament through Monday’s play.

In advancing, Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens’ Dutch team topped the World No. 1-ranked Cubans twice in Pool 1 play, the second victory likely sweeter thanks to Cuban manager Victor Mesa’s assertion that “I don’t think (the Netherlands are) a very good team” following the Netherlands’ 6-2 pool-opening win over the island nation.

With the win, The Netherlands advances to the WBC’s penultimate round for the first time, and they will officially conclude Pool 1 play on Tuesday when they face Japan, who beat them 16-4 last Friday. Because second round pool play is contested under a modified double-elimination format, both teams have already clinched semifinal spots, and the game result will matter strictly for seeding purposes.

Pool 2, which features the United States, the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Italy, runs from Tuesday-Saturday, and the top two teams there will advance to join Japan and the Netherlands in the Final Four. The winner of Tuesday’s Japan/Netherlands game will face the Pool 2 runner-upon in the first semifinal on Saturday, with the loser to play the Pool 2 winner on Sunday.

Follow Lou DiPietro on Twitter: @LouDiPietroYES

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