It looked like a potential disaster was brewing after falling behind 5-0 before even getting their first licks at the plate, but Mexico somehow overcame an eventual 6-0 disadvantage to survive a game against the Netherland Antilles with a 9-8 knucklelbiter of a win Thursday night in San Marino. Mexico evened their second round record in the Baseball World Cup at 2-2, while the Dutch Antilles fell to 0-3.
This one started ugly for the Mexicans as the Antilles scored five runs in the top of the first inning, keyed by an Ulrich Snijders grand slam homer off starter Francisco Cordoba. The Antilles added another run in the second off an Ardley Jansen RBI single to make it 6-0, spelling the end of Cordoba’s night (although only two of the runs he allowed were earned, as Mexico committed two errors in the field behind him). Hugo Castellanos (pictured) came out of the bullpen to get the third out, but the Verde Grande found themselves in a deep, early hole to dig out of. And dig they did.
Edgar Quintero put Mexico on the board with a solo homer in the bottom of the second, but they really started to chip away at the lead with a three-run fourth. Cristian Presichi opened the inning with a double and scored on Jesus Cota’s single. Cota then came in on three consecutive walks given up by Dutch Antilles Johannes Gregorius. Still with nobody out, Christian Quintero plated a run on a Noe Munoz double-play grounder to second to put the score at 6-4.
The Dutch Antilles went back up by three when Castellanos coughed up a leadoff homer to Lorvin Louisa in the top of the fifth, but Mexico came storming back one inning later with five big runs in the sixth to take a 9-7 lead. Abel Martinez singled in two runs and Presichi doubled in two more to put the Mexicans ahead for the first time in the game before Cota capped the outburst with a run-scoring single.
The Dutch Antilles did not go quietly into the good night, scoring once more in the top of the seventh on a Dijonny Joubert RBI single off Juan Quintanilla, but Quintanilla got out of the inning without any further damage, leaving it to Alan Guerrero and Hector Navarro to close out a win that ended up being a lot closer than anyone thought it would be.
Presichi and Cota each went 3-for-5 with two RBIs, while Martinez finished with two hits and two ribbies. Castellanos picked up the win in relief by pitching 4.1 innings and letting in two runs on three hits. Navarro was awarded the save by tossing a scoreless ninth inning.
Mexico will not have much time to breathe a collective sigh of relief. They’ll face Taiwan Friday night in Verona. Taiwan is 3-1 in Pool G competition after taking a fierce 14-3 pounding Thursday at the hands of the 4-0 United States in a game that was halted after seven innings by the mercy rule. Mexico defeated Taiwan, 8-0, in the opening first round game September 9 in Prague.
Right now, however, that seems like a long time ago.