Friday, March 10, 2017

2017 World Baseball Classic: Pool Play Updates

From the desk of:  PLANET BASEBALL

POOL-A: Israel Upsets Field; Netherlands Advances
  • Israel                  3-0
  • Netherlands       2-1
  • South Korea        1-2
  • Chinese Taipei    0-3
Team Israel Upending Pool A
Pool-A Recap

POOL-B: Japan Completes Sweep; Cuba Advances
  • Japan        3-0
  • Cuba         2-1
  • Australia    1-2
  • China         0-3
Game One: Japan defeats Cuba in Pool-B Opener

On Wednesday, Japan limited Australia to one run on just five hits en route to a 4-1 victory.  First baseman Sho Nakata homered in the seventh to break a one all tie.  Left fielder Yoshitomo Tsutsugo then connected on his second home run of the tournament, as Japan improved to 2-0 in pool play.   Starter Tomoyuki Sugano allowed one run on four hits, with four strikeouts through 4.1 innings of work.

Japan completed a sweep of Pool-B on Friday with a commanding 7-1 victory over China.  In all, Japan outscored their three opponents by a 22-8 margin, and out-hit them by a 30-21 margin.

Cuba also handled China with the greatest of ease during their second match, limiting them to just one hit.  Cuban starter Bladimir Banos threw five scoreless innings of one hit baseball, allowing no walks and fanning four for the victory.  Banos turned back his first 13 batters faced until center fielder Shunyi Yang singled to right with one out in the fifth.

On Thursday, Australia took their turn posting their first victory in a romp over China.  Australia slugged nine hits, with six going for extra bases, and three of those going for home runs, en route to an 11-0 whitewashing.

Australia's victory set up a showdown against Cuba in the Pool-B finale with the winner advancing to Round Two.  Cuba would prevail, but just narrowly escaping with a 4-3 victory.  Australia took a 1-0 lead in the top of the fifth.  However, Cuban left fielder Alfredo Despaigne stroked a grand slam in the bottom of the frame (his second HR of the tourney).  Australia plated runs in the seventh and eighth innings, but could manage no more.  Cuban closer Miguel Lahera retired Australia in order in the ninth.  Australia actually out-hit Cuba by a 13-10 margin.

Cuba and Japan advance into Round Two.

POOL-C: Dominican Republic Begins Defense of Title
  • Colombia
  • United States
  • Canada              0-1
  • R. Dominicana  1-0
Pool Preview

Thursday's Pool-C opener offered no surprises.  The Dominican Republic jumped ahead of Team Canada in the second inning with a six hit barrage highlighted by a Welington Castillo home run.   With an early 4-0 lead, Dominican Republic never looked back.  With Jose Reyes on, Jose Bautista roped another home run to left in the sixth en route to a 9-2 Dominican victory.

  • Italy
  • Puerto Rico
  • Mexico
  • Venezuela

Holy Cow!  Did anyone catch what Italy did to Mexico?  Phil Rizzuto would have been proud.  The game was a back and forth affair to begin with, as the lead either changed hands or the game was tied on six different occasions.  Trailing 9-4 entering the bottom of the ninth, Italy reeled off five runs to complete a completely crazy comeback, and gain their first victory of pool play.  Italy hit four home runs in the game off a quality and deep Mexican pitching staff, and were 4 for 8 with runners in scoring position.  Italy stroked five hits, including three doubles in the ninth.  Right fielder John Andreoli knocked in the game's tying and winning runs with a single through the right side.

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