More World Cup mayhem
The excitement is reaching a fever pitch, isn’t it? Everywhere you go, people are talking about the IBAF World Cup.
What’s that, you say, they’re not? Well, clearly you’re talking to the wrong people.
OK, OK, so maybe it’s not creating that much of a buzz, but there’s some fun baseball going on over on “the contenent” — namely, the Netherlands and Italy. We’re in Round 2 currently, with eight teams in each group. Four teams from each group go on to the third, and final, round in Italy. Here’s where things stand, with most teams having played 2 of the 6 games in the round:
In Pool F, Cuba (the team the U.S. beat for the gold medal in this event in 2007) and the Netherlands are off to 2-0 starts. The much-improved Dutch have beaten South Korea and Puerto Rico so far, a couple of teams who know the game pretty well.
In Pool G, the U.S. and Australia have gone 2-0 to start. Chinese Taipei and Japan are both 1-0 (they had a rain out). It’s U.S. vs. Japan today, while Australia’s got Chinese Taipei.
Here’s a look at which affiliated players have fared the best thus far:
Justin Smoak, 1B, U.S. (Rangers): All he’s done is gone 8-for-18, with 5 HR and 12 RBIs. He’s tied for the lead in those latter two categories and his 1.389 SLG is second as are his 25 total bases.
Jon Weber, OF, U.S. (Rays): One of my favorite minor league vets (one who deserves a big-league shot, in my opinion), Weber has done what he does best — hit. He’s hitting .529 in four games (9-for-17) with a homer, two doubles and a triple to go along with five RBIs.
Sharlon Schoop, INF, Netherlands (Giants): It’s been just two games for the Dutch, hosts of the second round, but Schoop has gotten off to a very good start, going 5-for-8 with three extra-base hits and two RBIs. On another note, can someone tell me why he’s on this team and not the roster for the Netherlands Antilles? Isn’t Curacao considered to be a part of that? Color me confused. (Or, if the online translator is write, verward).
Joel Naughton, C, Australia (Phillies): A 4-for-4 day against the Schoop-less Netherlands Antilles squad has helped Naughton to a .571 average over five games (8-for-14). He’s got two doubles and a homer.
Tim Smith, OF, Canada (Rangers): Canada is 0-2 in the second round, and Smith hasn’t done much thus far in this round, but overall he’s hitting .538 (7-for-13) in five games total. He’s got a pair of homers and 8 RBIs. He leads fellow Canadians Adam Loewen (.462, 1, 6) and Rene Tosoni (.429, 2, 8) on a team hitting .309 over five games.
Matthew Kennelly, C, Australia (Braves): He’s caught, he’s DHed, and he’s hit .500 over four games (7-for-14). Of those seven hits, four have been doubles, one has been a homer).
Tim Kennelly, C/OF, Australia (Phillies): A catcher in the Phillies system, he’s been playing the outfield for Team Australia and he’s hit .364 in five games with three homers and nine RBIs.
Trevor Reckling, LHP, U.S. (Angels): Sure, it came against China, not exactly a powerhouse in baseball — yet — but Reckling’s seven-inning performance in Round 1 was noteworthy. The Futures Gamer gave up no runs on three hits and three walks while striking out 11.
Cory Luebke, LHP, U.S. (Padres): Luebke’s shutout ball came against Team Canada in the second round. He went 7 1/3 IP, allowed just one hit and one walk while he struck out 10.
Todd Redmond, RHP, U.S. (Braves): Redmond was perfect for much of his Round 1 start against Germany. He ended up going eight innings, allowing two hits and no walks while striking out seven. No wonder Team USA’s ERA is 2.00.
Eric Gonzalez, RHP, Spain (Padres): Born in the Canary Islands, he came to the Padres by way of South Alabama and he’s been a reliever as a pro. In this event, however, he’s been Spain’s best starter. He’s won both of his starters, having allowed just one earned run in 10 1/3 IP, yielding seven hits and two walks while striking out 10. He beat Venezuela in Round 2.
Liam Hendriks, RHP, Australia (Twins): Australia’s success has come largely because of its offense (.356 AVG, .686 SLG as a team) and not its pitching (5.11 ERA). Still. the team has gone 4-1 overall. Hendriks has done his part as the 20-year-old has gone six innings over two starts and has yet to allow a hit.
Dennis Neuman, RHP, Netherlands (Red Sox): It’s only been 1 1/3 IP in total, but he’s made the most of it, picking up saves in both Dutch victories in Round 2. He’s another native of Curacao on this roster and he won’t turn 20 until mid-October.