JUPITER, Florida – The 2013 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers officially kicked off with the first game finishing up with a victory for Israel over South Africa.
This is the first Classic that has a qualifying system for the final four teams of the tournament. Sixteen teams were invited to four different qualifying tournaments in the USA, Taiwan, Panama, and Germany with the winner of each advancing to next year’s Classic.
Israel and South Africa opened up the first qualifier with a 7-3 win for Israel.
Israel got on the board in the first inning with a long solo home run from Nate Freiman (2-for-5). It was his first of two solo home runs.
The game remained close due to solid pitching from both pitching staffs. South Africa starter Dylan Unsworth pitched well going 6 innings allowing only 1 run on 5 hits.
Israel took a different stance pitching wise as they kept all their pitchers available for the rest of the tournament. You can only throw 85 pitches in a game. However, if you throw more than 50, you have to sit 3 days which effectively ends your tournament. So Israel used 6 pitchers keeping the pitch counts low. Starter Eric Berger pitched 3 innings allowing just 2 hits picking up the win.
Israel scored 5 of their 7 runs late in the game picking up 3 in the 8th and 2 more in the 9th. Charles Cutler drove in 3 runs with a pair of hits. Shawn Green picked up 2 hits coming out of retirement to DH for Israel.
South Africa was limited to just 3 hits in the game. They scored all their runs in the 9th without picking up a hit. They did walk 4 times though.
Complete Box Score
Thursday France will face off with Spain in Florida with the winner playing Israel on Friday.
In Germany, Canada and Great Britain will start the qualifier off on Thursday.
You can watch all the qualifying tournament games online at www.worldbaseballclassic.com