Thursday, March 09, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: Israel and Netherlands Take Pool-A

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL

Israel Sweeps Field;
Netherlands Advance.

Chinese Taipei Impressive in Defeat;
South Korea Heading Back to Drawing Board.


Wednesday:  For a second straight game Chinese Taipei's bid for an upset came up just short.  The Netherlands barely squeaked by Chinese Taipei in the late innings for a slim 6-5 margin of victory.   Left fielder Chih-Hsien Chiang's two run home run in the fifth helped Chinese Taipei build a 5-4 lead they would hold through the seventh.  But in the home eighth, Netherlands' Didi Gregorius doubled home Xander Bogearts with the game's tying run.  Then with two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Taiwan walked Jurickson Profar with the bases loaded, thus handing Netherlands their second victory of pool play.  For Taiwan, their second defeat.

Netherlands 2-0 record assured them passage into the second round along with Irsael, but not before the two teams played for top seeding.  Israel jumped out to a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back en route to a 4-2 victory.  Starter Jason Marquis was the first of nine Israeli pitchers to climb the hill against Netherlands, as all were assigned an inning apiece.

The previous Netherlands/Chinese Taipei outcome rendered the Pool-A finale between Taipei vs. South Korea meaningless with regards to standings.  Just don't tell that to the dismayed Koreans, whose 11-8 extra-inning victory over Chinese Taipei means they avoid needing to re-qualify for the 2021 World Baseball Classic.  In the mean time, the next four years will be spent pondering what went wrong.

Chinese Taipei proved a real pain in the backstop, didn't they.  Their 0-3 record aside, they proved competitive.  Despite getting outscored 20-32 through three games, that does not necessarily tell the story.  They generated seven runs from the sixth inning forward against Israel.  Their game against Netherlands was up for grabs right up until the ninth inning.  And their most recent match required eleven innings.

  Israel wraps up pool play with a stunning 3-0 record. 
Netherlands advances with a 2-1 mark.

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