A team that represents Israel and that contains mostly Americans from Jewish descent, stunned Korea in the opening match of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. In a close game, the “Israelis” needed ten innings to clinch the 2-1 win.
The game had two faces. At one hand it was a thrilling one as both teams did not give in during the regular nine innings. But at the other hand the game was tantalizing as well.
The story of the game can be summarized in a few words. The ineptness of both teams to score runs. It was typical that Israel opened the score in the second inning on a bases loaded walk on Chang Won-Jun, who gave up three free passes in that inning alone.
Israel got two more big scoring chances in the seventh and in the eighth inning as they loaded the bases in both frames. But both times the team failed to cash in. In the seventh with the bases loaded, Blake Gallen worked the count to 3-0 but then Lee Hyun – Seung fought back to two strikes and retired Gallen on a soft line drive to shortstop.
Korea on its turn had runners on the bases in each of the first eight innings and killed their rallies by hitting into double plays in the seventh and eighth inning.
The Koreans tied the game in the fifth inning when Geonchang Seo singled to left field to drive in Kyong-min Hur. But that was about all the Koreans were capable of.
Eventually, in the tenth inning, Israel forced a decision. With runners on the corners, Tyler Krieger popped out to pitcher Chang-Yong Lim on a bunting attempt for the second out. But eventually Scott Burcham singled home the winning run with a hit towards second base.
Israeli starting pitcher Jason Marquis lasted three innings in which he gave up two hits and fanned three. Reliever Josh Zeid limited the Koreans to only one hit in three innings and gave up two walks and struck out four to be labeled with the win. Scott Burcham was the best hitter for Israel as he went 2 for 5 with one RBI.
Despite leaving 14 men on base Israel managed to win. The Korean manager was forced to make some adaptions as the heavy hitters of the team did not live up to the expectations.
Choi Hyoung-Woo, was kept out of the team as he went 2 for 22 in the practice games. His replacement Min Byung-Hun at least collected two hits but came up empty in the eighth inning rally. Kim Tae-Kyun and Lee Dae-Ho went 0 for 8 combined with four strikeouts. As a team, Korea managed to get seven hits and left 9 runners on base.
What does this Korean loss mean for the Kingdom of the Netherlands? That’s hard to tell. If the Koreans deal with their scoring chances like they did today, the Dutch will have a good chance to win tomorrow’s game. But we all know that a drawing man will clutch at a straw, meaning that the Koreans will do everything in their might to win tomorrow’s game as it is a must win situation. But it appeared today that the Koreans could not deal with the situation of a must win in front of the home crowd.
One thing is sure. Under any circumstances, the Dutch must not underestimate the “Israeli” team. Perhaps that is what cost the Koreans the game today.