Sunday's full slate on Day 5 of the 2018 Women's Baseball World Cup, the final scheduled day of the opening round, saw four teams -- the United States, Japan, Canada and the Dominican Republic -- emerge with spots in the Super Round, despite the United States taking its first loss
Sunday's full slate on Day 5 of the 2018 Women's Baseball World Cup, the final scheduled day of the opening round, saw four teams -- the United States, Japan, Canada and the Dominican Republic -- emerge with spots in the Super Round, despite the United States taking its first loss of the tournament at the hands of Chinese Taipei.
Puerto Rico, Chinese Taipei and Venezuela, which won bronze in 2016, are vying for the final two spots, pending the results of two critical weather-delayed games in Group A that will be made up on Monday morning.
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Here's what you need to know from Sunday's opening-round action:
Venezuela 17, Netherlands 1 (five innings)
Venezuela needed a win to keep its tournament hopes alive, and it put any doubt to rest in a hurry by sending 20 women to the plate in a 16-run first inning that featured nine hits, six walks and two stolen bases against Dutch starter Maaike Haak and relievers Maria Van Veen and Berber Jansen. Venezuela added another run in the second in support of starter Linibeth Aguilarte Lander, who pitched a five-inning complete game and allowed only an unearned run in the fifth on an RBI single by Jessica Kroeskop.
Venezuela can clinch a berth in the Super Round with a win over Puerto Rico on Monday and a Chinese Taipei win over the Netherlands, which would give Venezuela and Puerto Rico equal records with the head-to-head tiebreaker going to Venezuela. If Chinese Taipei were to lose, a Venezuela victory would trigger a complex three-way tiebreaker.
Puerto Rico 10, South Korea 4
Puerto Rico used a three-run first inning to jump out to an early lead against South Korea and coasted to a 10-4 win behind three-hit games from shortstop Luz Feliciano Ramos and first baseman Diamilette Quiles Alicea and three RBIs from catcher Janiliz Rivera Cruz. Starter Nylah Lucia Ramirez pitched four shutout innings before South Korea tallied four in the seventh against reliever Ashley Garcia Gonzalez, featuring RBI singles from Bitna Lee and Hyeryeon Won.
Puerto Rico can clinch a berth in the Super Round with a win over Venezuela on Monday morning, while South Korea finished the opening round at 1-4.
Canada 18, Dominican Republic 1 (five innings)
The Dominican Republic played a close game against the defending tournament runners-up from Canada before a 12-run third inning by the Canadians put the game out of reach. Infielder Ashley Stephenson led the barrage with 3-for-3 game with three runs and four RBIs, while left fielder Kelsey Lalor and center fielder Mia Valcke each drove in three.
After the Dominican Republic scored in the first on a leadoff triple by Yanela Gomez Beltre and an RBI double from Melissa Rodriguez, Lalor answered in the bottom of the frame with the second homer of the tournament, a two-run shot to right. Canada added two more in the second before the 12-run third, highlighted by Stephenson's two-run double and two-run triple. Canada finished second in Group B behind undefeated Japan.
Hong Kong 8, Cuba 5
Despite already having been eliminated, Hong Kong picked a critical time to earn its first win of the tournament, stunning Cuba with a go-ahead, two-out, five-run rally in the seventh to knock the Cubans out of contention for the Super Round, opening a path for the Dominican Republic to advance to the next round.
With Cuba up, 5-3, in the seventh, Hong Kong put runners on second and third down to their final out of the game before Wing Ki Mui walked to load the bases and Woon Yee Cheuk tied the game on an 0-2 count with a two-run single up the middle. A walk loaded the bases before Tan Lee Cheung dealt the decisive blow with a bases-clearing double down the left-field line. Yik Shan Hung pitched around a pair of two-out singles in the bottom of the frame to finish her complete game and earn the win.
Chinese Taipei 4, United States 3
Chinese Taipei played good small-ball all game against the United States, and did so again in scoring the game's go-ahead run in the top of the sixth with the game tied at 3 to hand the United States its first loss of the tournament.
After Yu-Chuan Tu was hit by a pitch from Samantha Cobb to start the frame, she advanced on a bunt single and a sacrifice bunt before Yu-Ying Hsieh knocked a sacrifice fly to center to bring home Chinese Taipei's fourth run. Though Michelle Cobb hit a one-out single for the United States in the sixth, she was caught stealing second, and the Americans went down in order in the seventh.
Though the United States had already secured its place in the Super Round, its loss opens the door for Chinese Taipei to potentially win the group -- even though it could miss out on the Super Round altogether. Chinese Taipei will play winless Netherlands on Monday morning and will advance with a victory or a Venezuela loss to Puerto Rico.
Japan 5, Australia 1
Unbeaten Japan extended its winning streak at the Women's Baseball World Cup to 26 games with two runs in the first and three in the third to support a strong five innings of one-run ball from starter Mizu Shimizu against Australia, which was eliminated due to its loss to the Dominican Republic earlier in the week.
Japan jumped ahead early on first-inning RBI doubles from Iori Miura and Yuki Kawabata before Australia narrowed the gap in the second with an RBI double by outfielder Morgan Doty. The Japanese took advantage of wildness by Australia starter Brittany Hepburn to tack on three insurance runs in the third after four walks, an RBI single by Nozomi Abe and an RBI fielder's choice that was initially ruled an inning-ending double play, but was overturned upon review.
Do-Hyoung Park is a reporter for MLB.com based in the Bay Area. Follow him on Twitter at @dohyoungpark.