On this day in 2011: Europeans, Netherlands win their first-ever Baseball World Cup

On this day in 2011: Europeans, Netherlands win their first-ever Baseball World Cup
16/10/2020
It was the final edition of the tournament, inaugurated in 1938, the only time a National Team from Europe earned the title of Baseball World Champion.

Major underdogs Netherlands beat Cuba, 2-1, in the final of the 2011 IBAF Baseball World Cup. It was 16 October 2011 to be precise, and it marked the first time that the oldest international baseball tournament was won by a European National Team since its creation in 1938.

It was a rainy day in Panama and the final started with a near four-hour delay. Only 4,500 fans were still at the Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama, when home plate umpire Adam Dowdy (USA) called playball.

Dutch manager Brian Farley benched that day future Major League Baseball (MLB) All-Star Xander Bogaerts, today the everyday shortstop for the Boston Red Sox. His pick at the position was Didi Gregorius, another future MLB All-Star (New York Yankees, Philadelphia Phillies). Jonathan Schoop, who was at third base and caught the ball that made the final out, is currently playing for the Detroit Tigers.

Cuba's roster featured international baseball veterans like designated hitter Frederic Cepeda, second baseman Yuli Gurriel (a future MLB World Series winner), third baseman Michel Enriquez, catcher Ariel Pestano and was loaded with younger power hitters such as Rusney Castillo (now with the MLB Boston Red Sox), Alfredo Despaigne (today a star slugger in Nippon Professional Baseball, NPB), Josè Abreu (now an MLB All-Star and a Roberto Clemente Award finalist).

Legendary Dutch righthander Rob Cordemans managed to allow only two hits over 7.1 innings of work against the powerful Cuban lineup. Juan Carlos Sulbaran and David Bergman followed with 1.2 perfect innings of relief.

Netherlands batters provided all the run support the pitchers would need in the bottom of the fourth against starter Yulieski Gonzalez and reliever Freddy Alvarez. First baseman Curt Smith (the tournament MVP), designated hitter Brian Engelhardt and Jonathan Schoop provided base hits. Catcher Sydney De Jong (walk) and Engelhardt himself scored the winning runs.

BOX SCORE and PLAY BY PLAY of the final

2011 was the final edition of the IBAF (Men's) Baseball World Cup, which was discontinued in favor of streamlining the calendar with the World Baseball Classic. The World Baseball Softball Confederation inaugurated the Premier12, its flagship event, in 2015.