Drew Waters homered on the first pitch of the bottom of the first inning, Bobby Dalbec hit a grand slam in the fifth and Jo Adell and Brent Rooker also went deep, leading the United States over the Netherlands 9-0 Saturday at Guadalajara, Mexico, in the Americans’ opening qualifier for next year’s Olympic baseball tournament.
Cody Ponce (1-0) and four relievers combined on a two-hitter to get a win in the Group A game at the Premier12 tournament.
The top two nations in the group, which includes the Dominica Republic and Mexico, advance to the super round in Japan. The top finisher from the Americas qualifies for next year’s Olympic baseball tournament in Japan.
Japan has an automatic berth, and the top nation from Asia/Oceania other than Japan also qualifies.
Waters, a top Atlanta Braves prospect, homered off Rob Cordemans (0-1), Oakland’s Mark Payton added a sacrifice fly in the second and the Los Angeles Angels’ Jo Adell went deep in the third. Dalbec, a fourth-round pick of the Boston Red Sox in 2016, made it 7-0 with his slam against Lars Uijer. Rooker, who plays in the Minnesota Twins’ farm system, hit a two-run homer in the eighth off Jim Ploeger.
Ponce, a 25-year-old right-hander in the Pittsburgh Pirates’ organization, allowed two hits in five innings with five strikeouts and one walk. He was followed by an inning each from Boston’s Noah Song, Milwaukee’s Clayton Andrews, the New York Mets’ Brooks Pounders and Clayton Richard, who was released by Toronto in September.
The U.S. plays Mexico on Sunday. The Mexicans opened against the Dominican Republic on Saturday night.
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