Opening day starters revealed for WBSC Premier12 Olympic qualifier

Opening day starters revealed for WBSC Premier12 Olympic qualifier
Rob Cordemans (NED), Cody Ponce (USA), Enny Romero (DOM) and Eduardo Vera (MEX) will be the starters in the Opening Day.

The Premier12 2019 will begin on Saturday with the first two games of Group A: the Netherlands will take on the USA; while Dominican Republic will play Mexico. After the press conference, attended by journalists from all over the world, the four teams officially announced their opening day starters.

The four participating teams in Premier12 Group A arrived in Guadalajara with a clear goal: advance to the Super Round in Tokyo, Japan. Managers Luis Rojas (DOM), Juan Gabriel Castro (MEX), Hensley Meulens (NED) and Scott Brosius (USA) made it clear during the Premier12 Group A pre-tournament press conference held today in Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico.

Netherlands, USA to open the Premier12

Rob Cordemans and Cody Ponce were named the Opening Game starters for the Netherlands and USA respectively. Both right handers will be on the hill for the first game of the WBSC Premier12 2019, tomorrow 2 November, 12:00pm, at Estadio Charros de Jalisco, in Mexico.

Asked about the goals of his team, Netherlands Manager Hensley Meulens was positive about their chances.

“We want to show that Netherlands belongs to the top 12 teams in the world, and would be very important for us to advance to the Super Round," Meulens said.

"We always perform very well in this kind of tournament.”

Meulens will give the ball to Cordemans, a 45-year-old pitcher with more than two decades of experience with the National Team, to open the Premier12. The right hander represented his country at the Olympic Games Atlanta 1996, as a 21 year old, and he he was crowned champion at the Baseball World Cup 2011, posting a 3-0 record with a 2.29 ERA.

Cordemans’ last appearance with the Dutch National Team was in the Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, held in Parma and Bologna, where the Netherlands claimed second place. He pitched against Spain, and earned the win.

Asked about their opponents in Group A, USA manager Scott Brosius said it will be very tough for the four squads.

“We came here expecting a very competitive group and very competitive games," Brosius said.

"But as the other three managers said, our goal is to advance to the next round in Tokyo.”

To open the Premier12, Brosius will send Ponce to the mound. The 25 year-old right hander belongs to the Pittsburgh Pirates organisation, and finished this season at AAA level. He made five starts for the Peoria Javelinas in the 2019 Arizona Fall League, finishing with a 2-1 record, a 2.35 ERA and 27 strikeouts in 23 innings.

Enny Romero to open for Dominican Republic, Eduardo Vera for Mexico

Dominican Republic and Mexico also announced the starting pitchers for their game. Enny Romero will take the ball for the Dominican squad, while 25 year-old Eduardo Vera will take the mound for the host team.

Luis Rojas, Dominican skipper, said: “We expect a very difficult tournament, against these three amazing teams. Our goal is to qualify and advance to the next round, we know it won’t be easy, but this is the main goal of our team”.

"I think it’s the best team to represent our country and I’m sure the fans will follow us along the tournament,” Rojas added.

“We have a very talented group, a great mix of young players with great potential, and some veterans with MLB experience.” 

One of the veterans is Romero. The left-handed starter ended his first full season with NPB team Chunichi Dragons, with a record of 8-10. The powerful lefty pitched in the MLB in five different seasons, playing with Tampa Bay Rays, Washington Nationals, Pittsburgh Pirates and Kansas City Royals. 

For the host team Juan Gabriel Castro will give the ball to Eduardo Vera, right hander of Mexicali in the Mexican Pacific League. “It is an honour to represent our country here in Guadalajara”, said the Mexican skipper.

“These are three very good teams. We’re going one day at a time, our first game will be against a great team like Dominican Republic, but we’re going to play with our heart.”

Vera has pitched 14.1 innings in the first weeks of the Mexican Winter season, allowing only 4 runs with 1.26 ERA. He fanned 14 so far. This year, he pitched in AAA in the Pittsburgh Pirates organisation.