Netherlands vs. Puerto Rico kicks off World Baseball Classic semifinals Monday – SB Nation

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The World Baseball Classic is down to just four teams, and we’re past the round-robin setup of the first two rounds. It’s now single-elimination from here on out, with the winners of the next two games determining who will be playing on Wednesday to become the 2017 World Baseball Classic champion. The first of those two games is Monday night at 9 p.m. ET, with the Pool E runner-up the Netherlands taking on Pool F winner, Puerto Rico.

Puerto Rico is an undefeated 6-0 in the tournament, and it’s hard not to see why when you consider they have Carlos Correa, Carlos Beltran, Yadier Molina, Javier Baez, and Francisco Lindor, among others. Even so, they weren’t considered favorites in the same way that, say, the Dominican Republic team was, and yet, here they are in the semifinals once again. Puerto Rico actually made it to the WBC Championship Game in 2013, but fell to the Dominican. Puerto Rico made up for that on their way here, downing the Dominican in their first game of the second round, which inevitably helped them advance while sending the Dominican home.

The Netherlands have their own success stories, with young major-league players like Xander Bogaerts, Andrelton Simmons, Jurickson Profar, and Jonathan Schoop on the roster, but they’ve also put together a pitching staff made up out of the European portion of the Kingdom of the Netherlands that has helped carry them this far. Less than a decade ago, the Netherlands were a complete unknown in the baseball world, but here they are, in the semifinals once again. Like Puerto Rico, their championship aspirations were ended in 2013 by the Dominican Republic, but they no longer stand in the way of either team.

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