A home run with two runners on base by catcher Robinson Chirinos led a five-run rally in the third inning and Henry Centeno pitched a complete game for Venezuela to knock out the Netherlands 10-0 on Friday and advance to the game for a baseball quota of the Olympic Games.
In a clash of two major baseball powers, Venezuela will face the Dominican Republic on Saturday at 2 p.m. ET for the last ticket to the Tokyo 2020 tournament, to which the United States, South Korea, Israel, Mexico and Japan are already qualified.
While the Dominican Republic seeks its second Olympic participation (it was in Barcelona ’92), Venezuela will try to savor the experience for the first time. The two countries are the largest foreign producers of players for Major League Baseball in the United States.
Last Tuesday, the Venezuelan ninth lost its third consecutive game against the Dominican in the qualification process for the Olympic Games, but leads the final playoff of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation (WBSC) at the Hermanos Serdán stadium in Puebla, Mexico , with 26 runs and nine home runs.
On Friday, right-hander Henry Centeno entered the fifth inning pitching a no-hitter, and his offense supported him from the start, scoring one hairline in the first inning and five in the fifth. Outfielder Alexander Palma pushed the first and second, but it was Chirinos’ home run off Jair Jurrjens in the third that drove the dagger into the heart of Dutch aspirations.
Two-run home runs by shortstop Engelb Vielma and third baseman Hernán Pérez in the seventh improved Venezuela’s lead to 10-0, resulting in a knockout (lead of 10 or more in the seventh), according to WBSC rules. .
Perez, a 10-year MLB veteran, was 3-for-4 with two RBIs and two runs scored; Chirinos, who started the year with the New York Yankees, 3-1 with three RBIs; Palma 3-2 with two RBIs and Vielma 3-1 with two trailers.
Centeno (1-0) scored the win with seven two-hitter innings and six strikeouts, while Jurrjens (0-1) carried the backhand with six hits and six runs in 2.2 innings. The duel seemed uneven before it began.
While Jurrjens, 35, has eight years of experience in the US major leagues, Centeno, 26, entered the game with a 12.79 ERA in four games with Aguascalientes in the Mexican Baseball League.