Balentien leads Netherlands to 14-1 win over Cuba at WBC

TOKYO (AP) Former Major Leaguer Wladimir Balentien homered twice and drove in five runs as the Netherlands overpowered Cuba 14-1 in seven innings on Wednesday at the World Baseball Classic.

Balentien, who plays in Japan for the Yakult Swallows, hit a three-run homer in the first inning and added a solo blast in the third as the Netherlands jumped out to a 7-0 lead.

''We knew this was a needed game so I was focused on every at-bat,'' Balentien said. ''I was happy to get a chance to put us on the board early with those home runs.''

The Netherlands improved to 2-1 in Pool E. Depending on the outcome of Japan's game later Wednesday with Israel, the Netherlands will either advance directly to next week's championship round in Los Angeles or have a Thursday tiebreaker game at Tokyo Dome.

A Japan win would guarantee the Netherlands a spot in the semifinals, while an Israel win would leave three teams at 2-1 and bring the tournament's tiebreaker rule into effect.

Yurendell Decaster drove in two runs on a single to right in the fourth when the Netherlands scored five more runs to put the game out of reach.

Netherlands starter Diegomar Markwell picked up the win after holding Cuba to one run on four hits over six innings.

Cuba, 0-3 in Pool E, was eliminated from the tournament.

''The Netherlands crushed us and we were unable to come back,'' Cuba manager Carlos Marti said. ''Cuba is a very young team so this was a good experience and we have to prepare for the future.''

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