Olympic Dreams Dashed

Photo Credit: WBSC

It took just seven innings for Venezuela to thoroughly announce they are in this qualifier to win. By a 10-0 mercy win, Venezuela took out the first roadblock in their path, The Kingdom of the Netherlands. That decided, we now know Europe will be represented by Israel alone in the Olympic Games next month.

This game came down to two bad innings for the Dutch but, from the start, there were moments that foretold how this game would end. In the bottom of the 1st the Venezuelan’s came out of the dugout swinging. Hernan Perez hit a double to center that landed so deep, for an instant, you could almost hear Dutch fans around the globe collectively inhale.

After they managed to escape the 1st down by just a run, The Netherlands committed their first fielding error of the night, this time in left field where Jiandido Tromp was filling in for the injured Rifaela. The Dutch entered the game with seven errors over two nights so it was both expected and disappointing, no more like deflating, to see them booting another play so early on. That just goes to show though how truly unpredictable this game came be.

For the first time in three nights The Netherlands had their errors under control. That 2nd inning error would be the only one committed in this game. A look at the line score tells you that the Dutch shut down Venezuela’s offense completely in four of the seven innings they played.

There is a lot they could be proud of on this final night of play. If this were a tournament, and they had a week to handle their business, you could easily predict the Kingdom pulling together to make the cut into playoff rounds.

This isn’t a tournament however, and not everyone on The Netherlands bench was game-ready when it counted. Beyond their fielding mistakes the previous two nights, the depth of the Dutch pen was about as shallow as a kiddy pool in the heart of winter.

Venezuela’s 2-out rally, in the bottom of the 5th, was as much about Dutch pitching as it was their own bats. Lars Huijer gave 1st to two batters, putting each in a position to score on singles that followed. Then the Venezuelans tumbled ahead, 6-0, with a base-clearing homerun by David Gonzales.

The Kingdom began the bottom of the 7th with a pitching change that may have been their downfall. A single and a homerun and Venezuela was up by 8. When the next batter was given a pass, a second pitching change was ordered before Perez ended the game the way it nearly began, with a 2-run homer deep to left.

European Baseball in the Olympic Games

Baseball has never been a regular sport in the Summer Olympics. It first appeared in 1904, returned in 1912 and didn’t appear again before 1936. It was back, one last time, for two consecutive Summer Games in 1952 and 1956. A single Games, in 1964, was the last time baseball was played before its resurgence in the 1980s. This became the strongest time in the sport’s history in the Olympic arena. Between 1984 and 2008, baseball appeared in every Summer Games.

This will be just the second Summer Games in baseball’s modern Games history that The Netherlands won’t be participating. The Kingdom represented Europe in 1996, 2000, 2004 and 2008.

Other European representatives have included Greece, who also appeared in the 2004 Games, Spain, who appeared in 1992, and Italy, who appeared in 1992, 1996, 2000 and 2004.

For those looking to root on the continent in 2021, you’ll want to pick up your official Team Israel gear and get ready to cheer them on against whichever team emerges victorious in the final game between the Dominican Republic and Venezuela.