Sunday, March 12, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: Pool-E Play Underway

from the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL



Israel Humbles Cuba in Pool-E Opener

Israel opened Second Round play on Saturday with yet another major upset, this time against mighty Team Cuba.  They remain undefeated at 4-0, and if you include last September's 2016 WBC Qualifier, Israel has now won seven straight games.

Cuba jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the second on Alfredo Despaigne's third home run of the tournament, but would muster little else.  They managed just five hits for the game.  Israel starter Jason Marquis played a hand in that through 5.2 innings pitched, allowing one run on four hits and a walk, with four strikeouts.  At the plate, Israel got a pair of clutch two-out RBI from catcher Ryan Lavarnway and left fielder Blake Gailen en route to a 4-1 victory.

Revamped Japan Squad Better Than Ever

Japan and Netherlands battled toe-to-toe like a pair of heavyweights in their Pool-E opener.  Each line-up taking turns landing clutch hits, and launching huge home runs.  As such, both starting pitchers were knocked out of the box after just three innings of work, and after surrendering five runs apiece.

A duel of bullpens ensued lasting through the tenth inning.  However, not before Japan broke a five-all tie with a run in the fifth.  They carried that lead into the ninth inning.  In the bottom of the frame - you guessed it - Netherlands Xander Bogearts drew a one-out walk, and later scored on Jonathan Schoop's base hit that deflected off Japan second baseman Ryosuke Kikuchi and into center field.

After a scoreless tenth inning, WBC rules dictate that each inning thereafter begin with runners on first and second.  As visitor, Japan wasted no time advancing the runners with a lead-off sacrifice bunt.  Next up, first baseman Sho Nakata laced a single to left plating both runners for an 8-6 lead.

Netherlands then took their turn with runners on first and second in the bottom of the 11th.  Leading-off, Jurickson Profar popped-up to second invoking the infield fly rule.  Xander Borgearts grounded into a fielder's choice.  Then with two outs and runners on the corners, right field replacement Kilian Sams popped out to the catcher in foul territory to end the game.

Netherlands drops to par (2-2) while Japan remains undefeated with a 4-0 record.

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