Tag Archive | "Israel"

How have our World Baseball Classic predictions been so far?


Back just before the start of the tournament, we made 2017 World Baseball Classic predictions. Today we want to take a look at how those are going and perhaps make some updates on Round 2.

Pool A

We predicted the Netherlands and South Korea would make it out of Pool A. We were half wrong. We expected South Korea to have a better showing, like most everyone else. We did say that Israel would come close to advancing, but I don’t think anyone saw them going 3-0. My feeling was they would come close to beating South Korea and be outs away from advancing. Turns out they would best South Korea and win the whole pool.

Pool B

I think this was the easiest pool to predict. We predicted this right down to the records for all teams. Japan and Cuba advanced. Australia missed out on Round 2 by a single run losing to Cuba 4-3.

Pool C

We got the top 2 right, but did not see Colombia putting up such a great fight. They nearly beat the USA in the first game, beat Canada, and then came inches away from defeating the Dominican Republic. We thought Canada would get by Colombia, but they did not. Canada was rather disappointing in the 2017 WBC and now will have to qualify for the 2021 edition.

Pool D

It almost came down to exactly how we thought it might. We predicted it would be Puerto Rico (although at 2-1 not 3-0) and Venezuela making it to Round 2. We also thought that this would be the pool that would need to play the tiebreaker game, check. This was perhaps the most exciting round, which says a lot with how exciting this tournament has been.

We are sticking to the rest of our predictions. So far we predicted 7 of the 8 in Round 2, and we are sticking to our predictions of the semifinals consisting of USA, Dominican Republic, Japan, Netherlands. That is going out on a limb saying that Puerto Rico will not advance since they have been one of the hottest teams.

It has been a fun WBC so far with so many exciting games and plays, and I have the feeling it will only get better from here on out.

World Baseball Classic predictions

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Israel upsets Cuba at 2017 World Baseball Classic


Israel upset Cuba 4-1 at the 2017 World Baseball Classic on Saturday at the Tokyo Dome. Israel just continued to roll with good pitching and timely hitting, just how they did in Seoul going 3-0 in Pool A to make it to Round 2.

Cuba 1, Israel 4

Cuba jumped out on top in the 2nd inning on an Alfredo Despaigne home run, it was his second of the WBC. But that was all Cuba could muster against the Israel staff managing just 5 hits.

Jason Marquis pitched well for Israel getting the start. He went 5.2 innings allowing just 1 run on 4 hits. His experience has really helped Israel in this WBC, and despite not having pitched in a few years his stuff has been good. The Israel bullpen gave up just 1 hit the last 3.1 innings.

Many on Twitter seem to have the take that this was the biggest upset in the history of the WBC. I disagree and feel this just takes away from some of their careers. The top 4 hitters in the Israel lineup have big league experience. Not to mention the starting pitcher was a big leaguer for more than a decade. Sure there is a good bit of young players in the low minors, but even that I feel is more than China had when it defeated Chinese Taipei. To me that is the biggest upset so far in the history of the tournament.

With the win, Israel sets itself up nicely for a possible run into the semifinals. It will take a win against the no. 1 world ranked Japan and/or a second win against the Netherlands. Either way, this pool is still wide open.

Notable Performers:

Ryan Lavarnway doubled, drove in a run, and played some great defense behind the plate.

Blake Gailen had a big RBI double and a successful squeeze bunt in the 8th to extend the lead to 3.

Out of the bullpen, Zack Thornton picked up the win pitching 1.1 innings of scoreless relief.

Picking up the save was Josh Zeid who tossed 1.1 innings of ball coming into the 8th to stop a rally Cuba had going.

Full Box Score

Israel upsets Cuba

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WBC: Pool E Preview from Tokyo


As Round 1 finishes up in North America, Round 2 begins in Asia at the 2017 World Baseball Classic and we are here with a Pool E Preview from Tokyo.

Pool E consists of the top two finishers in Pools A and B from Seoul and Tokyo. In Pool A, Israel shocked everyone by going 3-0 and winning the pool. The Netherlands picked up the no. 2 seed out of Pool A after going 2-1. Both South Korea and Chinese Taipei did not advance.

Coming out of Pool B are two of the top favorites in the tournament, Japan and Cuba. Japan won the pool finishing with a perfect 3-0 record, and they look to be the top of the heap going into Round 2. Cuba finished 2-1 defeating Australia 4-3 to advance to the next round.

Round 2 will be another round robin. The two no. 1 seeds from Round 1 will have an easier schedule simply because they will not play on back-to-back days. The no. 2 seeds will have games on back-to-back days.

Israel will have to keep its hot hand going, and they have the talent to do just that. Do not count them out of advancing to the semifinals. Japan is the clear favorite in the pool. The rest should be interesting to watch. This pool is up for grabs and could make for some interesting baseball.

Schedule for Round 2 in Tokyo, Japan:

Game 1 Saturday March 11th 10PM EST
Cuba vs Israel

Game 2 Sunday March 12th 6AM EST
Japan vs Netherlands

Game 3 Monday March 13th 6AM EST
Netherlands and Israel

Game 4 Tuesday March 14th 6AM EST
Cuba vs Japan

Game 5 Tuesday March 14th 11PM EST
Netherlands vs Cuba

Game 6 Wednesday March 15th 6AM EST
Israel vs Japan

Game 7 Thursday March 16th 6AM EST
Tiebreaker if necessary

All games will take place at the Tokyo Dome. More information on Pool E.

Pool E Preview Tokyo

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Israel Routes Chinese Taipei at World Baseball Classic


Israel routes Chinese Taipei

Israel blasted Chinese Taipei in Game 2 of Pool A in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Team Israel jumped out to a 4-0 lead after half an inning. Sam Fuld led off the game with a single to right. Ty Kelly followed him up with a long double off the right field wall to put runners at 2nd and 3rd, and Ike Davis kept hitting. Lining a rocket to right, Davis drove in both Fuld and Kelly to get Israel on the board. Then for the 4th time in their short tournament, Israel loaded the bases. This time they got a big hit from Tyler Krieger who singled up the middle driving in 2 runs.

After Kuan-yu Chen came in to relive starter Chun-lin Kuo, things started to settle down for Chinese Taipei. That is until Ryan Larvanway came up with a runner on in the top of the 3rd inning. Lavarnway drilled a pitch to deep left-center for a 2-run home run putting Israel up 6-0.

Team Israel got a nice start from Corey Baker who went 4.2 innings allowing just 3 hits and striking out 3. R.C. Orlan came on to relieve him in the 5th inning.

Chinese Taipei got a break in the bottom of the 6th inning when reliever Orlan fielded a ground ball that was tailor made for a double play. The throw was a bit off line and the shortstop Krieger could not come up with it allowing the hitter to reach and putting runners at the corners. After a walk loading the bases, Orlan was pulled in favor of Tyler Herron.

And then just like that Chinese Taipei was back in the game. Chih-sheng Lin just missed a grand slam as he doubled off the wall in left to drive in 2 runs. Yi-chuan Lin followed with a sacrifice fly to cut the Israel lead to 6-3.

Ike Davis led off the top of the 7th inning with a stand up triple off the top of the wall in dead center field. He was quickly driven in by Nate Freiman who singled to left making it 7-3 Israel. Once again Israel would load the bases in the 7th and once again it was Tyler Krieger with a big hit. His RBI single made it 8-3 giving him 3 RBI in the game.

Then the flood gates opened on a squeeze bunt. Yes you read that right. Burcham laid down the bunt with the bases loaded but nobody covered first base and the throw from the pitcher went all the way down the right field line. On the play, three runs would score for Israel making it 11-3.

Both teams would add additional runs in the 9th inning. Freiman hit a 3-run homer for Israel, and Chinese Taipei would add 4 runs to make the final score 15-7.

Baker picked up the win for Israel, while Kuo took the loss.

Israel sits in a great spot to advance to Round 2. They play their final game of Round 1 on Thursday (Wednesday pm US time) against the Netherlands.

Full Box Score

Israel routes Chinese Taipei

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Israel Defeats South Korea on Day 1 of World Baseball Classic


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.

Korea tied the game in the bottom of the 5th on a RBI single from Geon-chang Seo. Jeremy Bleich  got out of the inning without giving up anymore runs leaving it tied at 1 apiece.

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.

See Full Box Score 

Israel Defeats South Korea

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WBC: Israel vs Chinese Taipei Game 1 Pool A Preview


Team Israel has a short turnaround for Game 2 of the 2017 World Baseball Classic. After a late night game with host South Korea, they will turn around and play an early game Tuesday against Chinese Taipei.

Getting the start for Jerry Weinstein’s (@JWonCatching) Team Israel will be Corey Baker, a farmhand of the St. Louis Cardinals. Baker pitched last season in AA and AAA going 5-11 on the year with an ERA of 5.68. He will face a potent lineup for Chinese Taipei.

Baker’s opponent on the mound will be Chun-lin Kuo for Chinese Taipei. Kuo pitched in 2016 in the Nippon Professional Baseball league with the Seibu Lions where he went 0-3 with an ERA over 8. In two seasons in Japan, Kuo is 3-10 with an ERA of 6.00.

Players to watch:

Israel

Ike Davis – Look for the big power hitting lefty to get a start against the right handed starter. Davis is just a few seasons removed from hitting 32 homers for the New York Mets. He has struggled a bit in the past few years, but still poses a threat at the plate.

Sam Fuld – Fuld was everywhere it seemed in Game 1. Defensively he is still great in centerfield showing that with a diving save of a double off the bat of Dae-ho Lee. He will be a big part of the Israel offense moving forward if he can set the table.

Zach Borenstein – He had a big double in Game 1 off lefty starter Won-jun Chang. He could provide the power needed from the left side of the plate for Israel as they face Chinese Taipei.

Chinese Taipei

Kuo-Hui Kao – The Fubon Guardians outfielder had a huge year in 2016 in the CPBL with 34 home runs. The 31-year old who spent some time in the states getting as high as AA ball will anchor the lower half of the order.

Chih-Hsien Chiang – The third baseman for the Chinatrust Brothers will provide a potent 1-2 punch in the middle of the order for Chinese Taipei with Chih-sheng Lin. Both hit 30+ homers in 2016 with Chiang hitting .402 on the season.

Israel vs Chinese Taipei

Israel vs Chinese Taipei

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WBC: South Korea vs Israel Game 1 Pool A Preview


Quick preview of Game 1 of the 2017 World Baseball Classic – South Korea vs Israel from the Gocheok Dome in Seoul.

Israel is playing in its first WBC game having advanced to the 2017 Tournament through winning a qualifier in late 2016. Team Israel swept through the qualifier in Brooklyn by defeating Great Britain twice and Brazil once.

Israel will be sending 38-year old MLB veteran Jason Marquis to the mound against what Israel manager Jerry Weinstein called “a formidable team”. Marquis helped pitch Israel into the main tournament with a pair of outings last September. He tossed 7.0 innings giving up just 1 run on two hits. He will need similar stats if Israel can come up with a win.

Marquis opponent on the mound will be Won-jun Chang of the Doosan Bears. Chang put together a record of 15-6 with an ERA of 3.32 in the KBO in 2016. He has WBC experience having pitched the Pool B final in 2013 against Chinese Taipei.

South Korea is looking to bounce back from a disappointing 2013 WBC when they did not make it past Round 1. They finished pool play with a  2-1 record but failed to advance due to the tiebreaker rules on run differential.

Players to Watch:

Israel:

Sam Fuld – Coming off a missed season due to shoulder surgery, and Fuld is looking to get a few at bats to impress perspective teams. He will face some good competition in Seoul and might work his way into a contract with a healthy showing.

Craig Breslow – A non-roster invitee to Spring Training with the Twins, Breslow could use a good showing in Seoul to help garner that next MLB assignment weather it is with the Twins or another team. There are a lot of good left-handed bats for Korea so he might come up in a big situation late in the game.

Nate Freiman – He absolutely crushed the competition in the 2012 Qualifier hitting 4 home runs, but Israel failed to make it to the big tourney. This time he will be facing off with a lefty and his big bat from the right side could play a big impact on the game and possible upset win over Korea.

South Korea:

Seung-hwan Oh – The Cardinals relief pitcher has been practically unhittable his entire career. If the game is close late, look for Oh to shut down the Israel bats with relative ease.

Hyoung-woo Choi – The Samsung Lions slugger put up incredible numbers a year ago (.376 avg/46 doubles/ 31 HR/ 144 RBI) but he has been in a slump (0-17) of late and might sit in Game 1. But look for him, if he doesn’t start, to have a big at bat off the bench. If he starts, look for him to bust out of his slump.

Tae-kyun Kim – The Hanwha Eagles slugger brings yet another big bat to the Korea lineup. In 2016, Kim slugged 23 home runs and 39 doubles. But the biggest thing that stood out to me is that he walked more times (108) than he struck out (97). So while he has a big bat and might swing and miss, he also has a good enough eye to take a walk setting up his teammates.

Game time is 4:30 AM ET and you can catch the action in several different places including MLB Network or MLB.TV.

South Korea vs Israel

South Korea vs Israel

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2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions


Predictions are usually not right, but they are fun and thus we are going to do some 2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions.

I’ve done predictions for many years, and very rarely do they come to fruition. However, that doesn’t take away from the fact that they are fun to do and fun to talk about. So with that, I am going to go through each pool and predict what will happen. A lot of this is based on rosters, but not all of it. Some of it is just a gut feel which may help others to see why I am doing what I am doing. I do not think everyone will agree with me either. Of course, that is half the fun. So here we go.

Pool A

Pool A will consist of the following teams: South Korea (host), Chinese Taipei, Netherlands, and Israel.

My Standings:

  1. Netherlands 3-0 (50:1 odds)
  2. South Korea 2-1 (15:1 odds)
  3. Israel 1-2 (200:1 odds)
  4. Chinese Taipei 0-3 (120:1 odds)

I am probably following most predictions in that the two teams I see advancing are South Korea and the Netherlands. However, I am going to predict a few things that others may not like. First, I see the Netherlands winning this pool. I think this comes down to Game 3 on Tuesday March 7th between these two clubs, and I feel that the Dutch will outscore Korea in a shootout. The other “out on a limb” prediction I am going to make is that Israel beats Chinese Taipei, and I think they come within a few innings of advancing but fall to South Korea in their match up. They are one team that will be overlooked and under appreciated, and that is why I think they make a run. I think they will come out and shock South Korea by nearly beating them in Game 1 of pool play.

Pool B

Pool B consists of Japan (host), Cuba, China, and Australia.

  1. Japan 3-0 (3:1 odds)
  2. Cuba 2-1 (12:1 odds)
  3. Australia 1-2 (200:1 odds)
  4. China 0-3 (200:1 odds)

In Tokyo I feel Japan will dominate only having a contest with Cuba. They are the class of Pool B and a title contender. The rest of the field I think will be fun and interesting to watch. Japan is one of the favorites (3rd best odds according to Vegas Insider) with Cuba not being too far behind. I think 3rd place comes down to Australia vs China and fear that is really all they are playing for. Australia could make a run with a shock against Cuba, but I don’t see that happening. China is really the unknown here, but don’t look for them to finish higher than third.

Pool C 

Pool C consists of United States (host), Dominican Republic, Colombia, and Canada.

  1. Dominican Republic 3-0 (5:2 odds)
  2. United States 2-1 (11:5 odds)
  3. Canada 1-2 (60:1 odds)
  4. Colombia 0-3 (120:1 odds)

This is one pool I am really excited to see. The USA is favored by many to win the whole thing. I am not convinced. I think they struggle to make it out of pool play just getting past both Canada and Colombia. I see the Dominican to dominate the pool and win easily against all three opponents.

Pool D

Pool D consists of Mexico (host), Puerto Rico, Venezuela, and Italy.

  1. Puerto Rico 2-1 (10:1 odds)
  2. Venezuela 2-1 (6:1 odds)
  3. Mexico 1-2 (40:1 odds)
  4. Italy 1-2 (120:1 odds)

This might be the most wide open pool. It is the only one where I am going to predict the host country doesn’t make it out of the round. I think it all comes down to the final game between Mexico and Venezuela, and I am going with Venezuela. I think Italy will shock a team (perhaps Mexico) and create havoc in the pool play, and don’t look for anyone here to go undefeated. It is going to be a wide open pool. This also might be the only pool where the first round tiebreaker game is needed, although I could see it possibly used in Pool C as well.

Round 2

Pool E in Tokyo, Japan will consist of Cuba, Netherlands, Japan (host), and South Korea.

This pool will be a great one to watch. I see Japan and the Netherlands coming out of it to advance to the semifinal round. This will be a hotly contested round, but I see it going down in the following fashion:

  1. Japan 2-1
  2. Netherlands 2-1
  3. Cuba 1-2
  4. South Korea 1-2

Pool F in San Diego will consist of USA, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, and Puerto Rico.

A lot of people are high on Puerto Rico, and rightfully so. However, I think this is where they fail to advance. There will be a lot of talent here and this will come down to the final games in the pool, and very well might need a tiebreaker game for a team to advance.

  1. Dominican Republic 2-1
  2. USA 2-1
  3. Puerto Rico 2-1
  4. Venezuela 0-3

Finals 

The Finals will take place in Los Angeles. And while I think we will see a new team garner a medal, I do not think we have a team win its first championship. Instead, I think we have a match up of the only two winners so far in Japan and the Dominican Republic.

Semifinals:

Dominican Republic 5,  Netherlands 2

Japan 3, USA 1

Championship

Japan 3, Dominican Republic 2 (11 Innings)

So there you have it. I am calling for an extra inning championship game where Japan reclaims its title. The Vegas favorite is the USA, but I see them coming up short in their quest for the title.

Now don’t get me wrong, I will be pulling for the USA in any game they play. At the same time I will be pulling for teams like Italy, Israel, and Australia to win since it will only help those countries going forward. I would love to see one of them advance to Round 2, but I just do not see it happening just yet. Italy advanced in 2013, but I feel their pool this go around will be stronger. But it is not out of the realm of possibility.

I’d love to hear what you think and who you think will win it all.

2017 World Baseball Classic Predictions

 

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Team Israel Taking Shape for 2017 World Baseball Classic


The roster for Team Israel in the upcoming 2017 World Baseball Classic has been announced, in part. Fifteen players have confirmed with the rest to be finalized at a later date. Israel will travel to Seoul, South Korea to take on Korea, the Netherlands, and Chinese Taipei.

The players that have been confirmed are:

Ty Kelly, IF, New York Mets
Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland Athletics – free agent
Jason Marquis, P, formerly of the Cincinnati Reds – free agent
Ike Davis, 1B, formerly of the NY Mets and Yankees – free agent
Ryan Lavarnway, C, Oakland Athletics
Cody Decker, IF, Milwaukee Brewers
Josh Zeid, P, formerly of the Houston Astros – free agent
Nate Freiman, 1B, Portland Sea Dogs (Boston Red Sox) – free agent
Tyler Krieger, IF, Lynchberg Hillcats (Cleveland Indians)
Nick Rickles, C, Harrisburg Senators (Washington Nationals)
Dean Kremer, P, Great Lakes Loons (LA Dodgers)
Corey Baker, P, Springfield Cardinals (St. Louis Cardinals)
Jeremy Bleich, P, Reading Fightin Phils (Philadelphia Phillies)
Jake Kalish, P, Wilmington Blue Rocks (Kansas City Royals)
Alex Katz, P, Winston-Salem Dash (Chicago White Sox)

The team is pursuing other big leaguers according to Scott Barancik at Jewish Baseball News. Those players include Danny Valencia, Craig Breslow, Joc Pederson, and Jason Kipnis. Several others have already declined an invitation.

Per WBC rules, any athlete can play for Team Israel as long as they are eligible for an Israeli citizenship. This is accomplished by either marrying someone Jewish or having at least one Jewish grandparent.

This is Israel’s first time to play in the main tournament. They open up the WBC against South Korea on March 6 in Seoul.

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2017 World Baseball Classic: A Look at Pool A & B


We are just seven weeks away from the first pitch in the 2017 World Baseball Classic. As teams finalize rosters, players will soon begin reporting to spring training where they will begin preparing for the  fourth installment of the tournament.

In 2013 the Dominican Republic finally dethroned the two-time champion Japanese. The Dominican Republic defeated Puerto Rico in the championship game 3-0.

Each of the four pools have at the very least three strong teams that will compete for the two spots in the second round. So let’s go pool by pool and see how the teams have fared in the past. Today we will look at Pool’s A and B, and tomorrow we will take a look at Pool’s C and D.

Pool A:

Israel – This is Israel’s first time participating in the World Baseball Classic. They qualified through the Brooklyn Qualifier late in 2016. The team went 3-0 in the qualifier defeating Great Britain twice, including 9-1 in the championship game, and Brazil once by a 1-0 score. Israel just missed the 2013 WBC by losing to Spain 9-7 in the championship of a qualifier. They look to surprise someone, and they will need to, to move on.

South Korea – Back for a fourth time, South Korea recently moved up to no. 3 on the WBSC World Rankings which is their highest ranking ever. They look to continue moving up the ranks with some huge wins at the WBC. Korea finished runner-up in 2009 to Japan for its highest finish so far.

Chinese Taipei – This is their fourth time in the tournament as well. Their highest finish so far has been to advance to Round 2 in 2013. They will be searching for their first medal in the tournament and will be poised to move onto Round 2 if they can get passed the Netherlands.

Netherlands – They might have been the surprise of the tournament last go around finishing fourth. This is their fourth venture into the tournament and they look to improve on their high finish last time. They will have a strong showing but will have to defeat either South Korea or Chinese Taipei to move on.

Pool B

Japan – With two titles under their belt they are the most accomplished team in the tournament by far. Ranked no. 1 in the WBSC World Rankings, Japan will look to return to the top spot they lost last time out. A third place finish in 2013 would have been seen as a good thing for any team, except maybe the two-time defending champions. Look for a strong showing from them once again.

Cuba – Once the power in international tournaments, Cuba still has the power to make a run deep in this tournament. Their highest finish was a runner-up in 2006 in the inaugural event. Since then they have not advanced out of Round 2. I look for them to once again advance to Round 2, but go no further even though they are capable.

Australia – This is the wild card team in Pool B to me. If they can get passed a good Cuba team, they can advance to Round 2, which they have never done in the past. They had to get to this point by winning a qualifier, which they did quite easily. However, they just get passed Cuba or stun Japan to advance.

China – This is China’s fourth appearance in the tourney. They have never gotten out of Round 1 in the past but have made strides and have won at least one game in the past two tournaments. They might shock someone and hurt a team’s chances to advance by picking up a win like they did to Chinese Taipei in 2009.

Check back tomorrow for a quick look at the other two pools and soon we will start going over rosters as some of them are announced to see just how far they might be able to go.

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WBCQ USA: Israel Picks Up First Win Against South Africa


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

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Israeli National Team Looking Ahead


ISRAEL – Peter Kurz clearly sees the silver lining in Israel’s sixth-place finish at this week’s Prague baseball week. “We met all our goals to gain experience in international tournaments,” the secretary general of the Israel Association of Baseball told Anglo File Sports on Wednesday. “You have to play six games in five days, which is very intensive. “We are used to one to two a week. It wears on you physically, psychologically. It’s important to know how to do that mentally and physically.”

The friendly competition in the Czech Republic served as a training tournament for the seven teams. Croatia, Austria and Russia – which are literally out of Israel’s league – tuned up for the senior European championship in Stuttgart in two weeks. Israel, which finished 1-5, used Prague as a practice tournament for the 2011 qualifiers preceding the 2012 European championships.

SOLID NUCLEUS
Kurz says a core of teammates playing college ball in North America give reason to be optimistic that Israel will improve on its third-place performance in the previous European qualifiers, which was a good finish but not enough to advance.

“We’ve got five guys in college – Ophir Katz in junior college in California, Oren Gal in Canada [York University], Daniel Maddy-Weitzman in Philly [Haverford], Guy Stevens in California [Pomona-Pitzer] and Alon Leishman, who is going to junior college [Cypress] in January,” says Kurz. “Alon was our best player in this tournament. We were very close in every game.”

Maddy-Weitzman and Gal, a Team Canada member at last year’s Maccabiah Games who was the Israeli team MVP two years ago, were unavailable for the tournament, indicating that the team could have been more competitive.

Pitching is Israel’s strong card, and all four whom Kurz refers to as “top-level pitchers” are past, present or future college players in North America.

Besides Leishman, who grew up in Kibbutz Gezer, the rotation boasts Stevens, 19, who grew up in California and has an Israeli mother; Shlomo Lipitz, who grew up in the Tel Aviv system, went to University of California, San Diego and lives in New York; and player-coach Dan Rothem, who grew up in Israel and played Division-1 at Gardner-Webb University in North Carolina. The foursome gives Israel a “solid pitching core for a short tournament,” says Kurz.

FOREIGN RECRUITS
Israel’s hitting in Prague was better than two years ago but was still weak, says Kurz. The hope is to find foreign legionnaires with a blue-and-white connection, he says.

“We’re looking for a couple of more guys who are children of yordim with Israeli passports,” says Kurz, referring to Israelis who have moved abroad. One prospect is Eitan Maoz, a catcher from Canada who bats .400. Kurz says that although Maoz didn’t play in Europe, the Israel Association of Baseball is talking to him about playing in next year’s European qualifiers.

Some of the children of Israelis living abroad are more than just hired hands, says Kurz. Playing for the national team and seeing how the game is developing in the Holy Land has them thinking about moving back to Israel.

Kurz says his goal to improve the offense is for every senior national team member to get in 700 swings a week of batting practice over the next 12 months. “The only way to make them better hitters is to swing,” he says. The team will also be looking for more tournaments to improve its endurance and be better able to play day after day. He adds that Israel is seeking to host a tournament of its own in March.

As his association prepares to meet next week to plan out a strategy for the coming year in preparation for next summer’s qualifiers, the budget remains a key concern. “We got enough to fund the past trip, but we need about $50,000 to $60,000 for the coming year to do everything that we want to do,” says Kurz. “We’ve got about 10 percent raised.”

THE NEXT GENERATION
The Israeli men’s team was not the only national squad playing abroad this month. The national cadet team became the first Israeli contingent to take part in Cooperstown Baseball World, a youth tournament held near the Baseball Hall of Fame.

The Israeli team finished 2-6 over five days, but head coach Amit Kurz says the second-to-last-place showing belies the team’s performance. “We were a hit away from a couple of more wins,” he told Anglo File Sports yesterday.

Akiva Schwartz pitched well, though he didn’t pick up any wins in the tourney held from July 11 to 15. He held his own against the Florida state champions, dropping a 4-2 decision in which Israel had the bases loaded in the final inning.

He also contributed on defense at shortstop. The team’s other standout was catcher Tal Erel, who according to Kurz did “a fantastic job of blocking the ball and hitting.”

Kurz says the team may play again in the States but the real goal is to prepare for European competition, Israel’s main peers, and to develop players for the senior program.

Source: Confederation of European Baseball (CEB)

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