I know, it was a couple days ago, but I just caught my breath now, and am settling down getting ready for tonights big matchup with the Puerto Ricans. I'll give you my game recap how I saw it sitting down the left field line in the bullpen until I saw action. Our starter, and player with the most major league experience, Sydney Ponson threw 4 + solid innings giving up the only 2 runs we would give them. After that we brought in lefty Alex Smit (Reds single A) to face 2 lefties out of 3 batters, and Netherlands team veteran Rob Cerdemans who finished off the 5th and pitched all the way to the end of the 7th. Newcomer Dennis Neuman threw a solid 8th and got it to me in the 9th. I was told before the tourney they were going to have me as the closer, a job I have never done before and which was something I told the press when asked after the game also. Our teams General Manager Robert Eenhoorn reminded me afterwards that I did come in to close out a game in the2007 European Championships to secure our Olympic birth, but to me that was more of a relief appearance.
Okay, so I came in to get 3 outs, facing the top of the order against the best lineup in the tournament (would that mean top lineup in the world?). I walked the leadoff guy on 5 pitches. Not how you want to start off an inning, especially the 9th up by one. I got the next batter to groundout to seconds on a hit and run moving the leadoff guy to second base. 1 out, 3 hole hitter up. During the next very tense at bat, on the 1-2 pitch Taveras (leadoff hitter) attemped to steal 3rd when our catcher threw a absolute missile to 3rd to cut him down and eliminate the threat and base runner. I went 3-2 on the 3 hole hitter (Hanley Ramirez) and threw a very borderline 3-2 pitch called ball four. 4 hole come up (which was David Ortiz until he was pulled for a pinch runner a couple innings ealier) and I went 0-2, then 1-2 when Ramirez tried to swipe second on the pitch and was safe, but little did I know the umpire had a late strikeout call... Strike 3 looking, game over, biggest win in Netherlands baseball history and biggest upset of the tournament secured. We danced on the mound, oh did we dance. I was swarmed and pummelled and hugged a lot. The next moments went by quickly, I saw my wife and mom balling with the biggest smiles (which was so amazing first of all that they could be there), I signed about 100 autographs then after kisses from my wife and a few post game pics I was off to a press conference.
When I say press conference, I was thinking something like what we had at the Olympics, 4 or 5 media members and a cemera or two. I walk into this room along with Sydney Ponson, Rob Condemans, Kenley Jensen (catcher), and Rod Delmonico (coach) and see about 75 reporters, 6 TV cameras and a handful of photographers sitting there. We were all asked questions abou thow big this was for Holland, how we think we kept their baters quiet all kinds of things.
I forgot to mention our offence (sorry boys). On our hitting side of the game, we scored our 3 runs all in the first on the only 3 hits we got in the game, 3 inifield singles. A bunt and error, a bunt basehit, flyout, another baserunner a passed ball then a hit up the middle where the shortstop made a nice pic and then threw the ball away giving us 2 more runs. That's all we had. But looking at it now, we'll take it!
Tonight we play the home team Puerto Rico, 21 or they 28 players are big leaguers. They will be just as tough if not tougher than the Dominicans were, and they have the home crowd at their backs, 20,000 strong screaming crazy Puerto Ricans. Should be fun!
I swiped a couple pictures off a website I was notioned to by a generous commentor.
Swarmed, Pummelled and mobbed, and it was all absolutely unbelievable...
My childhood idol Pedro Matinez threw against us, shutting us down for 3 innings, it was very cool to just see him pitch, but to play against him, and then get a save in that game... wow
The tag out at 3rd of Taveras... best play of the game
Me just realizing I got the strikeout, one of my most memorable baseball moments ever