• Team EBSM

Korea Ekes past Israel

Israel's C Ryan Lavarnway hit two home runs against Korea in their Olympic opener Photo Credit: WBSC

Today was not the way Israel expected, or wanted, to begin their Olympic Games. They finished the day down by a run as well as a starter.

After losing starter Jon Mascot to injury before an out was recorded, Israel’s coaching staff made good use of the pen. They brought 12 arms along and used six of them in their first, extra innings, game.

Mascot threw just six pitches, one that was taken out to center for a single, before Fishman came in for the injured righty. No word yet on the nature, or extent, of the injury or Mascot’s outlook for the remainder of the Games.

Still, there were highlights. Israel took the early lead and the game went extra innings. There was also their catcher, Ryan Lavarnway. On loan from the Columbus Clippers this week, Ryan wasted no time doing what a lot of catchers do, power hitting his way through the game. Lavarnway had 2 runs off 2 hits, both homeruns, and 3 RBIs over 4 at bats. He wasn’t the only guy in blue to ring the bases. Hitting in the top spot, 2B Ian Kinsler had the third, also with a man on board.

It was certainly quality air in Tokyo as Korean bats also managed to take three for yard. The bats took a few innings to warm up but the men swinging them were certainly well stretched by the time their opportunity to round on a good pitch came.

In the top of the 3rd RF Mitch Glasser singled to left and advanced to 2nd on a ground out by Burcham before Ian Kinsler took one all the way over the fence in left putting Israel up 2-0.

In the bottom of the 4th it was Korea’s turn to repeat the play. Another single to left, this one by Minho Kang, was followed up by a homer, this time deep to right, by Hwan Ji Oh. Heading into the 5th the score was 2-2.

In the top of the 6th it started to look like groundhog day on offense. With one away Danny Valencia singled to center and Ryan Lavarnway homered deep to the same area to drive them home. Israel reclaimed the lead 4-2.

In the bottom of the 7th Korea jumped ahead with a 3-run inning. Jung-Hoo Lee took a 2-2 pitch so deep to right it hopped the fence, closing the gap to one. Hyunsoo Kim stepped up to the plate and let the first pitch pass him by for a ball. The first strike he saw, he took for yard going deep to right and tying things up. For their final run of the inning, and the first time in the game, the next run crossed without the help of a long drive. Jaeli Oh singled and then scored on a double by Jwan Ji Oh. The inning closed with Korea in the claiming the lead 5-4.

Israel’s Ryan Lavarnway homered deep to right in the bottom of the 9th to tie the game up and force extra innings. In the tie-breaker innings a runner is placed on 2nd and 1st to begin each offensive half of the inning.

After more than nine innings of Korea looking at deliveries from righties Bleich, a lefty, came in for Israel. Jaegyun Hwang sacrificed bunted his runners over into scoring position. Then Jeremy Bleich hit two batters in a row to bring around the winning run.

Win or lose the European representatives came to play and we’re excited to see what they will do next. Israel came into the Games ranked 24th in the world and just pushed #3 Korea to extra innings.

Tomorrow, they take on #4, USA. Given the minor and major league careers of many on Israel’s bench it is safe to say they may be facing off against opponents they’ve played both with, and against, in recent years. Should make for some interesting chatter in the box.