Wednesday, September 28, 2016

WBC Qualifier: Team Israel completes sweep of Brooklyn tourney

Israel's victory over Great Britain this past Sunday officially concludes the Qualifying Round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Teams finishing last in their respective pools during the 2013 World Baseball Classic, along with 12 other qualifiers were grouped into four pools of four teams each.  The winner of each pool would advance, joining the 12 teams holding automatic bids in next year's tournament.

Qualifying Round: 

Qualifier #1 - February @ Australia
  • *AUSTRALIA - New Zealand - Philippines - South Africa
Qualifier #2 - March @ Mexico
  • *MEXICO - Czech Republic - Germany - Nicaragua 
Qualifier #3 - March @ Panama
  • *COLUMBIA - France - Panama - Spain
Qualifier #4 - September @ CONEY ISLAND, BROOKLYN
  • *ISRAEL - Brazil - Great Britain - Pakistan

World Baseball Classic
Australia - Mexico - Columbia - Israel
Canada - China - Chinese Taipei - Cuba
Dominican Republic - Italy - Japan - Korea
Netherlands - Puerto Rico - United States - Venezuela

Great Britain  1
Israel              9

They Came to Brooklyn ... They Saw ... They Conquered.

And just like that, Team Israel is heading to their first World Baseball Classic.

The more polished team of the pool, Israel swept the field while outscoring their opponents by a 15-3 margin over three games.

After turning back Great Britain 5-2 in Thursday's opener at MCU Park in Brooklyn, Brazil and Israel engaged in a brilliant pitching duel on Friday, limiting one another to just three hits all game.   Gaining a 1-0 lead in the fourth inning, Israel made it hold up for their second victory.

Meanwhile, Great Britain successfully negotiated the loser's bracket to gain a rematch against Israel in Sunday's finale.

After pitching three innings on Thursday, Jason Marquis made his second start on short rest, and was opposed by Great Britain's Spencer Kreisberg.

Jason Marquis delivers first pitch.

The two exchanged zeroes through the first four innings.  Jason Marquis allowed no hits and no walks, and fanned five before yielding to the bullpen.  Kreisberg similarly threw four scoreless innings, allowing a hit and three walks.  He received a quick hook in the fifth after allowing a lead-off single to Israel shortstop Scott Burcham.

In came reliever Al Knowles, whom was promptly greeted by center fielder Blake Galen's high arching home run to right.  Then after walking right fielder and lead-off hitter Zach Borenstein, Great Britain replaced Knowles with reliever Rei Martinez.  Next up, Israel catcher Ryan Lavarnway wasted no time introducing himself with a majestic home run to left, giving Team Israel a sudden 4-0 lead.

Blake Galen (left) and Ryan Lavarnway (right) round the bases in the fifth inning
after hitting a pair of two run home runs.

Zach Borenstein's triple in the sixth inning further extended their lead to 5-0 over Great Britain.  Then with two outs in the seventh, Cody Decker's home run to left made it a 6-0 lead.

Cody Decker hits Israel's third home run of the game

All the while, Great Britain was being no-hit through seven full innings of play.

That finally changed with two outs in the eighth, when Albert Cartwright singled to right field.  Great Britain would not only break up Israel's bid for a no-hitter, but they would go on to ruin the shut out as well when designated hitter Chavez Young's RBI single finally put Great Britain on the board.

By the bottom of the eighth, however, the rout was on.  Three more runs ensured Israel a 9-1 victory, and a berth in next year's World Baseball Classic.

Final play ... Israel wins.

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