European Stand Off
Coming into the WBC The Netherlands were heavy favorites. Team Israel, with their first appearance in the Classic, was expected to use the tournament to gain experience and help put baseball on the map in their homeland. Let’s just say Israel is doing their part.
With a 3-0 start, including a 4-2 victory over The Netherlands in the early morning hours on Thursday, team Israel is picking up fans as fast as victories, if nowhere else than with those who have cashed in on their odds leading into the tournament.
Heading into today’s game team Israel’s tournament batting average was .337 but, to look at the way The Netherland played it, they weren’t buying into the hype. The Dutch started with 42-year old Robbie Cordemans on the mound. This is Cordemans’ forth WBC having appeared in 2006, 2009 and 2013. He wouldn’t make it out of the first. Israel jumped to an early lead scoring three in the bottom of the 1st and never looked back.
Nate Freidman started it off with a double to left that scored Ty Kelly and moved Ike Davis into scoring position at third. Davis scored on a grounder by Borenstein to second. Lavarnway singled out to left scoring Freiman.
The Dutch brought in pitching giant Loek Van Mil, the tallest pitcher in the game, standing at 7’1” (216.4 cm). Sam Fuld reached on a single and advanced to 2nd on a wild pitch. With two down and Fuld on third, Nate Freiman, who stands 6’8” (182.88), stepped up to the plate for the tallest recorded match up in baseball history. With 165 inches between them it was the shorter batter that benefited in the end with a walk to 1st leaving runners on 1st and 3rd for Borenstein who struck out to end the inning.
Last ups for the Dutch were handled by Zeid in five pitches. After pitching out of a tough spot in the 8th, earning his way to facing the 7-9 batters, Zeid’s first pitch was popped up for the out. Second batter, second pitch of the inning and it’s a 6-3 for out number two. Oduber stepped into the box and took a swing and a miss at the first pitch. He let the second one go by and then the count was 0-2. Last pitch, he took one more hack and the game was over.
Both teams head to Tokyo having advanced to Round 2 but it is Israel that walks away with both EU bragging rights and the top seat from Pool A in the next round. Pool E games begin on March 12th. Israel’s tournament record now sits at 3-0. The Netherlands are 2-1.
Before those games can begin however, Italy will have their shot to advance over in Pool D. Their first game starts at 3:00 CET on Friday, March 10th. They will play all three of their Round 1 games over the weekend. We’ll be right here, covering them for you, through the final out.