PC: MLB Properties
The first game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic goes to Israel in extra innings. Early in the game it looked like Israel might take a powerful lead. They had bases loaded and no outs early in the 2nd but were unable to turn it until Nate Freiman crossed the plate on Tyler Krieger’s walk with two down. They left all their men stranded from that point through the end of regulation time.
S. Korea came back in the 8th when Geonchang Seo singled on a ground ball to left allowing Kyoung-min Hur to score the tying run with no outs. It would be two more innings before another player crossed the plate. This time it was, once again, team Israel’s turn. In the 10th with two men down, it was Scott Burcham’s single to 2nd that allowed Mike Meyers to record what would become the game-winning run.
Israel wins 2-1 in 10. All the runs in the game were earned. A nod to the outstanding job done by both teams’ defensive staffs on the field.
This game was much more telling than the final score however. Both sides struggled. S. Korea went through 8 pitchers and left 21 on base (LOB) while Israel switched their hurler 6 times and left 31 stranded. The LOB average per team/game is between 6-8 in the MLB. The average number of times a team goes to their bullpen? Three. These are stark differences, especially considering that team Israel has been, at times, criticized for the number of US-born MLB players on their roster.
There is no question that both teams will need to dig deep into their pitching rotation and start taking swings at the plate if they have any hopes of advancing out of this round. Both teams had just 10 strikeouts on the day from their collective pitching staffs and South Korea gave up 9 walks.
Attendance at today’s game was 15,470. Czech umpire Frantisek Pribyl was stationed at first for this game.
Israel’s next game is against Chinese Taipei on Tuesday, March 7th at 4:00am CET.