Despite many missed opportunities, Israel defeated South Korea 2-1 in Game 1 of the 2017 World Baseball Classic in Seoul on early Monday morning USA time.
Israel took an early 1-0 lead scoring on a bases loaded walk to Tyler Krieger, but the big story was how Korea got out of a huge jam giving up just a single run. Israel loaded the bases with 1 out, but after the Krieger walk Scott Burcham struck out and Sam Fuld grounded out to end the inning.
Jason Marquis got the start for Team Israel, and pitched well. He pitched 3.0 scoreless innings giving up just 2 hits while striking out 3 but came out due to pitch limits. With Marquis staying under 50 pitches he is eligible to come back and pitch again in Israel’s game against the Netherlands on Thursday.
Won-jun Chang pitched well for Korea getting the start. With a deeper pitching staff, Chang pitched to his limit of 65 pitches. He got through 4.0 innings giving up just 1 run on 2 hits. He walked 3 and struck out 5.
Israel threatened in the top of the 8th inning. Zach Borenstein walked with one out. Ike Davis came in as a pinch hitter and laced a ball down the right field line for a double putting runners at 2nd and 3rd. After Ryan Lavarnway was intentionally walked to load the bases, Tyler Krieger hit an excuse me ground ball to third base where Korea got a force out at home. Then Korea sent out Seung-hwan Oh the closer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He quickly sat down Scott Burcham for the final out of the inning preserving the 1-1 tie.
After stopping the rally in the top of the 8th, Korea came right back in the bottom of the 8th. Kyun-kim Tae walked to lead off the inning. After Dae-ho Lee struck out swinging, Ah-seop Son singled to center putting runners at the corners with just 1 out. But a chopper to third led to nailing the runner at home leaving Korea with runners at 1st and 2nd and 2 outs. Josh Zeid somehow worked his way out of trouble though leaving it tied after 8 innings.
Israel really struggled with men in scoring position going 1-9. They left 14 men on base including the bases loaded more than once. The big hit came in the top of the 10th when Scott Burcham came up with an infield single with runners on the corners putting Israel up 2-1.
Zeid would finish off the game to pick up the win in relief. He tossed 3.0 scoreless innings allowing just 1 hit, 2 walks, and struck out 4. Chang-yong Lim took the loss giving up a run in an inning of work.
Israel has a quick turn around for Game 2 early on Tuesday afternoon Seoul time. While South Korea will try to regroup and bounce back on Tuesday against a stout Netherlands.
Eric Bynum is Managing Editor here at BaseballdeWorld. He spent three years as an ESL teacher in South Korea, and is now working on his master's degree in history with a focus on baseball and WWII. He has played and/or written about baseball for the past 30 years and is an avid Atlanta Braves fan.