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World Baseball Classic Preview: Netherlands vs Puerto Rico

The Kingdom of the Netherlands will take on Puerto Rico in a WBC semifinals game on Monday

The Kingdom of the Netherlands and Puerto Rico will go head-to-head in the World Baseball Classic semifinals on Monday.

The winner of the contest will take on the United States or Japan in the WBC finals on Wednesday. Both the semifinals and finals will be hosted at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. Unlike the first and second round, teams take part in a single-elimination game in the final two rounds.

The Netherlands survived a difficult pool in Japan, where it outlasted Cuba and Israel in the second round. Japan also advanced from that pool, and came out on top of with a perfect record. The Netherlands lost a game in round one and another in round two, but won when it needed to most.

On the mound for the Netherlands in this game will be former big-leaguer Rick Van den Hurk. The lanky right-hander previously pitched for the Florida Marlins and in recent years, he has shined internationally. In stops in Korea and Japan, Van den Hurk has reinvigorated his career.

This is not the first time Van den Hurk has lent his talents to the Netherlands for WBC action. After pitching in previous tournaments, Van den Hurk has made two starts in the 2017 version. In those two appearances, the 31-year old has amassed a 6.43 E.R.A and has a 1-0 record.

Puerto Rico will counter with Jorge Lopez on the mound. Thus far in the WBC, Lopez owns a 2.08 E.R.A and a 1-0 record of his own. Lopez does not have as much Major League experience as Van den Hurk, but he has shown some talent in spurts. The Netherlands may have some difficulty getting to Lopez, after he shined in an appearance against Mexico.

Netherlands has some prominent big-league players on the roster, and in the lineup. Atop the lineup are Andrelton Simmons and Jurickson Profar, who have both contributed in the WBC thus far. The lineup also features Boston Red Sox star Xander Bogaerts. Former big-leaguer Wladimir Balentien has led the Netherlands offensively so far with a .591 average and three home runs to go along with a team-high ten runs batted in.

Puerto Rico at 5-0 in the WBC so far, has a ton of talent as well. Carlos Correa, Francisco Lindor and Yadier Molina each have hit two home runs so far in the WBC. Puerto Rico has been dominating the tournament for a ferocious offense, timely hitting and dependable pitching. After finishing the 2013 WBC as the runner-up, it appears that Puerto Rico is ready to take the next and final step.

With a trip to the title game on the line, the contest between Puerto Rico and the Netherlands will begin at 9:00 p.m.

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