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Taiwan, Netherlands advance in World Baseball Classic

Taiwan players thank the crowd after their World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifying first round game against South Korea in Taichung March 5,
Taiwan players thank the crowd after their World Baseball Classic (WBC) qualifying first round game against South Korea in Taichung March 5,

(Reuters) - Taiwan and the Netherlands advanced to the second round of the World Baseball Classic on Tuesday, joining Japan and Cuba for the next phase of the elite, 16-team tournament in Tokyo.

Baltimore Orioles prospect Jonathan Schoop belted a two-run homer to lead the Dutch team to a 4-1 victory over Australia for their second win in Pool B round-robin play in Taichung, Taiwan.

Taiwan also advanced in Pool B despite losing 3-2 to 2009 finalists South Korea, who could not overcome an earlier 5-0 loss to the Netherlands and were eliminated by a tiebreaker.

Dutch starter Robbie Cordesmans had three 1-2-3 innings in five frames, and yielded only two hits while striking out three.

"Robbie pitched a great game," said manager Hensley Meulens, the batting coach for the World Series champion San Francisco Giants. "Five innings and no runs. That was the key to our win today."

Ray Chang's clutch two-run single in the bottom of the eighth inning capped a five-run rally that propelled China to their first victory, a 5-2 win over Brazil in Pool A that clinched them an automatic berth in the 2017 Classic.

Unbeaten Cuba and Japan, the two-time defending champions, play the Pool A finale on Wednesday to determine seeding for the second round that begins on Friday at the Tokyo Dome.

The other two first-round pools get underway on Thursday.

Venezuela meets the Dominican Republic to open Pool C play in San Juan, Puerto Rico, with Spain and the host team playing on Friday.

Team USA, with reigning National League Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey on the mound, play their first game on Friday in Phoenix against Mexico, after Italy and Mexico begin competition in Pool D. Canada round out the group and open against Italy on Friday.

(Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue)

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