TOKYO (AP) — Jonathan Schoop hit a three-run homer in the sixth inning on Friday to lead the Netherlands to a 6-2 win over Cuba in the second round of the World Baseball Classic.
"This was a huge win for us," Netherlands manager Hensley Meulens said. "We had a plan to attack and the guys executed it well. Jonathan had a big game with a three-run homer and another run in the eighth. The guys hit the ball well."
Curt Smith homered to left and Andrelton Simmons singled to center scoring Kalian Sams to give the Netherlands a 2-0 lead in the second inning while knocking out Cuba's starter Ismel Jimenez.
Schoop's blast into the left field stands at Tokyo Dome gave the Netherlands a comfortable 5-1 lead in the first game of the second round in Asia. Two-time defending champion Japan faces Taiwan later Friday.
Alfredo Despaigne homered in the bottom of the second inning to give Cuba its first run. Yulieski Gourriel homered to left in the seventh to cut the lead to 5-2. Schoop then doubled in another run in the eighth.
"We hit into five double plays and that caused a lot of trouble for us," Cuba manager Victor Mesa said. "We gave a three-run homer in the sixth and that was big. We had a lot of runners on base but couldn't score."
Cuba must win tomorrow to have a chance to advance to the final round in San Francisco on March 17-19.
The roster for the Netherlands features two players on major league rosters: Simmons of the Atlanta Braves and Roger Bernadina of the Washington Nationals. Former New York Yankees outfielder Andruw Jones now plays for the Rakuten Eagles in Japan.
Netherlands starter Diego Markwell earned the win after holding Cuba to one run on nine hits over six innings. Jimenez took the loss after giving up two runs on five hits in 1-2/3 innings.