Dominican Republic, Netherlands eye spot in WBC championship game
(Sports Network) - The Dominican Republic will be out for revenge Monday when they face the Netherlands in a World Baseball Classic semifinal matchup at AT&T Park.
As was the case this year, the Dominican Republic was heavily favored at the 2009 WBC. However, it failed to get out of the first round thanks to a pair of one run losses to the unheralded Netherlands.
"I think then, we had too much confidence. We took the field with too much confidence," Dominican shortstop Jose Reyes said. "I always say, in baseball, anything can happen. Any team can win, not only the team that has the most talent wins."
This time around there has been no letdown, as the Dominican Republic has rolled through the competition, going a perfect 6-0.
New York Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano has paced manager Tony Pena's club, hitting .519 with two home runs, six RBI and four doubles. Cano was named MVP of Round 2, just like he was in the first round.
"The MVP is an individual thing," Cano said. "First of all, Puerto Rico didn't know we had the most valuable players. Once we got to the second round, I wanted to go to the third round. You have to take it game by game. It wasn't only because of me, but also because of our players."
In addition to Reyes and Cano, Pena has a roster chock full of major league stars including Hanley Ramirez, Nelson Cruz, Carlos Santana, Edwin Encarnacion and Erick Aybar among others.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, has proved that its '09 run was no fluke, as it beat international powerhouse Cuba twice in the last round to advance.
"We beat Korea over there in Taiwan in the first game and then we beat Australia, Cuba twice," Dutch manager Hensley Meulens said. "We had a tough time against Japan, but the guys never gave up. You have to pitch good, you have to play good defense, and then get timely hitting, and we'll come out ahead for sure."
Still, the Netherlands won't be carrying its past success against the Dominican Republic into Monday's contest.
"That was four years ago and in the past for us," said Meulens. "We have grown so much since then. We have gotten better, in my opinion. We didn't go past the second round that time, but this time we have. We have more youth on our team, more talent than four years ago."
Meulens may not have the star power of the Dominican roster, but does have a few major league players in Roger Bernadina and Andrelton Simmons, as well as former big leaguers Andruw Jones and Wladimir Balentien.
In addition, both closer Kenley Jansen of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Texas Rangers top prospect Jurickson Profar have been added to the Dutch roster for the Championship Round.
"This is going to be my first time playing for them," Profar said. "It's a great honor for me. I'm very happy to be here. You can see right away why they're winning. They have great guys, great manager, great coaches. So I'm proud."
Monday's winner will play Puerto Rico in the championship game on Tuesday. Puerto Rico stunned two-time defending champion Japan in the first semifinal game on Sunday.
03/18 10:30:21 ET