Dutch polish off KMC, win Big League title
July 15, 2010
RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany — As if it hadn’t already sufficiently demonstrated its dominance of Little League Baseball’s Europe-Middle East-Africa Big League regional tournament, the team of 17- and 18-year olds from the Netherlands officially claimed the title Thursday by pinning a run-rule victory on the Kaiserslautern Military Community all-stars, winning 10-0.
The on-field score was actually 11-0 after designated hitter Max Ploegstra lined a two-out, bases-loaded triple off the left-center-field fence in the bottom of the fifth inning. But according to tourney director John Kuykendall, in a walk-off situation such as Thursday’s, scoring ends as soon as the run that brings about the 10-run margin crosses the plate.
It was the third run-rule victory in as many outings for the Dutch champs, who Thursday hammered two home runs off starter and loser Jake Warren and two more off reliever Shane Foley. Against three KMC pitchers Thursday, the Netherlands stroked 10 hits, eight of them for extra bases.
“They’re really good hitters,” understated KMC shortstop Matt McDonald, a two-time All-Europe pitcher-shortstop at Ramstein High School.
The Netherlands, which had hit five home runs — each of them plating three runs — in its 15-0 and 12-1 victories Monday and Tuesday over Moldova and KMC, varied the pattern a bit Thursday.
Milan Post opened the scoring with a two-run shot in the second. Two batters later, Rossini Frolyk stroked a solo shot to make it 3-0. The Dutch returned to their favored three-run clout on Urving Kemp’s shot with two on in the fourth, but Kemp – who hit two three-run homers Monday against Moldova – had an extra challenge this time.
On an 0-1 pitch, Kemp lined a shot just down the line over the left field fence. Umpires ruled the ball foul. After the Dutch dugout, which had a straight view down the left-field line, erupted in protest, the home plate and third base umpires conferred. They upheld their long-strike call.
“I thought (the ball) was fair,” Kemp said. “I was mad, but I knew I’d just have to forget it. You’ve got to flush it.”
Or, perhaps, push the plunger again.
Kemp stepped back into the box. Two pitches later, he lined a shot over the fence in left center, 310 feet from the plate and this time well inside the foul line.
“It was a fast ball down,” Kemp recalled. “He (Foley) threw me two curve balls up to make the count 2-2. I guessed fast ball and took a good swing.”
As did the following Dutch batter, Patrick Bok. He socked a homer over the center-field fence to make it 8-0, a score that held until Frolyk’s bases-clearing triple.
Meanwhile, Dutch right-handed starter Robin Schel was baffling the locals. KMC, no-hit Tuesday by three Dutch pitchers, managed just one hit Thursday, a harmless lead-off single in the third by Jon Groteleuschen.
“We gave up just two hits during the whole tournament,” Schel said.
Schel left in the top off the fifth — 4 2/3 innings pitched, no runs, one hit, three walks and six strikeouts. He allowed KMC runners as far as third base only twice.
“His fast ball has a lot of movement,” said McDonald, who struck out and fouled out Thursday against Schel, “and then he has a good curve.”
The victory advanced the Netherlands to the Big League World Series July 28-Aug. 4 in Easley, S.C., new ground for these players.
“I was on our Little League team which played in Kutno (EMEA’s regional headquarters in central Poland),” Schel said. “We were third in ’04 and second in ’05. This will be my first trip to a World Series.”