TOKYO — Shinnosuke Abe homered twice in an eight-run second inning, Hisayoshi Chono drove in five runs and two-time defending champion Japan beat the Netherlands 10-6 Tuesday to win its second-round group in the World Baseball Classic.
Both nations already had clinched berths in the semifinals at San Francisco on March 17-18. Japan will play the second-place team from the other group, which includes the United States, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Italy. The Netherlands will meet the group winner.
Japan, with no players from major league rosters, is 5-1 as it bids for a third straight WBC title.
“Getting eight runs like that early was huge,” Japan manager Koji Yamamoto said. “It was good to see Abe hitting like that because we rely on him in big games.”
The Netherlands’ Andrelton Simmons led off the game with a home run on Kenji Otonari’s second pitch, but Abe homered off David Bergman leading off the second.
Nobuhiro Matsuda’s RBI single and Chono’s three-run double gave Japan a 5-1 lead, and Abe hit a three-run homer off Jonatan Isenia.
“It’s been a while since I hit two in one inning,” said Abe, Japan’s captain. “We had a lot of support from our fans here and now we’re going over there to win it all.”
Otonari, the winner, struck out six in three innings and allowed one run and one hit. Bergman, the loser, gave up seven runs and four hits in 1 2-3 innings.
The Dutch closed in the seventh against Masahiko Morifuku on Xander Bogaerts’ RBI single and Randolph Oduber’s sacrifice fly, then pulled to 8-6 in the eighth on Curt Smith’s run-scoring grounder and former Everett AquaSox Kalian Sams’ two-out, RBI single off Tetsuya Yamaguchi, and Quintin De Cuba’s run-scoring single against Hideaki Wakui. With runners at the corners, Wakui struck out Oduber.
Chono hit a two-run single off Kevin Heijstek in the bottom half.