Scoreless through one, The Netherlands put runners in scoring position with two away to start off the second. First baseman Decaster Yurendell singled to center driving in Didi Gregorius and Jonathan Schoop and The Netherlands took an early lead 2-0.
Early in the third The Netherlands put two men on in quick succession with a single and a walk. That prompted Israel’s coach to take a trip to the mound where Jeremy Bleich was replaced by Corey Baker. Profar did his part to advance the runners with a sacrifice bunt. Runners on 2nd and 3rd with one out, Wladamir Balentien singled to center scoring Simmons and Bogaerts both. The Netherlands go up 4-0 with two outs to spare. Sir Didi then doubled to left bringing in Balentien, and Gregorius took third on the throw. After Israel’s pitching staff put up a K for the second out of the inning, Zarraga doubled to center to score Gregorius and The Netherlands left their half of the inning cradling a 6-0 lead. Israel remained scoreless through three.
In the 4th Israel opted for their third pitcher of the game. Burawa replaced Bleich to face Oduber who started the inning with a grounder to short. One away. Simmons doubled then Bogaerts grounded out to third for the second out, leaving Simmons on his base. Profar was patient and took a walk. With runners on 1st and 2nd Gregorius popped a long fly ball into right field and all three men took a jog around the bases, increasing their lead to ten.
After three innings of silence, and a double-digit lead by the opposition, Israel finally found their batting voice in the bottom of the 4th. After a pop out by Davis to start the inning Nate Freiman hit a solo homer that exited the park right of center field. That was just the third dinger for Israel, who came into the matchup undefeated, for the tournament. A true testament to ‘small ball can win ball games.’ The inning ended with The Netherlands lead cut back down to single digits. That homer, and some outstanding pitching, saved Israel from an early game exit courtesy of the mercy rule.
To start the 5th Israel put Jared Lakind on the mound to replace Burawa. He handed The Netherlands their first three outs without a score between them and Israel picks up their bats. It started to feel like a slight momentum change to Israel’s favor. Maybe the Mensch was late to the bench today.
Israel held The Netherlands scoreless for two more innings while adding some insurance against the mercy rule. In the bottom of the 7th they put a run on the board playing their game of small ball. Catcher Nick Rickles started them off with a double to center. Left fielder Blake Gailen singled to right and Rickles scored on the botched cutoff. They ended the inning one run closer to their leaders. To start the 8th they brought in Jake Kalish to replace Tyler Herron on the mound.
Bogaerts grounded out for a one-up-one down start to the inning but Kalish struggled with the Netherland’s offense from there. Profar doubled to left then an injury delay cooled him down a bit before Balentein singled to put runners on the corners. Gregorius, who went 3-3 hitting .429 on the day, sacrificed to right and Profar added one to the total. With that coach handed the ball over to Troy Neiman. They intentionally walked J. Schoop to get to Zarraga. He singled to center to bring Schoop across. The Netherlands finished their half of the 8th having padded their lead back up to ten.
Israel walked into the top of the 8th looking for their second mercy rule miracle of the day. They put the bat in the hands of the mensch’s best buddy Cody Decker to get things started. He pinch hit for Ike Davis’ but came off the bench cold and hungry and went down swinging. And that is about all you could say for Israel in their first loss of the tournament, they went down swinging. The game ended after 8 with a final score of 12-2 in favor of The Netherlands, leaving the teams at one-a-piece through their first two rounds of face-offs.
Next up for The Netherlands is Cuba, a team Israel has already beaten. They square off Tuesday, March 14th at 18:00 CET/11:00p EDT. Then it’s Israel against first in the world rankings, Japan at 1:00 CET / 6:00 EDT on Wednesday, March 15th to finish regular Pool play for this round.
To add yet another twist in your day, Italy has a tie-breaker scheduled for dinnertime here in the EU. No matter who the opponent, we’ve got all your European teams covered throughout the Classic.