By Scott Barancik, editor
You had to rise at 4:30pm ET today to watch underdog Team Israel play Korea live in the 2017 World Baseball Classic opener, but seeing Israel triumph 2-1 in 10 innings was worth missing some sleep.
There were a few ulcer-inducing moments. Israel — which knocked out 8 hits and drew 10 walks — squandered multiple scoring opportunities, including leaving the bases loaded three times.
But the highlights were far more memorable.
Starting pitcher Jason Marquis, 38, got Israel off on the right foot with three scoreless innings, yielding 2 hits and a walk while fanning 3. He stayed below 50 pitches, which under WBC rules means he can pitch again in 2 days.
Sam Fuld was rock-solid in center field, including a diving catch in the 4th to rob Dae-Ho Lee of extra bases. He also contributed two sharply-hit singles while batting leadoff.
Second baseman Tyler Krieger drew a bases-loaded, full-count walk in the 2nd to put Israel up 1-0.
Ike Davis hit a pinch-hit double in the 8th inning, and his 9th-inning walk helped set up the winning run. After the base on balls, the not-fleet-of-foot Davis somehow hoofed it from first to third on catcher Ryan Lavarnway‘s soft liner to center. Mike Meyers came in as a pinch-runner and scored the go-ahead run two batters later.
Scotty Burcham, who starred for Israel in the September qualifiers, struck out three times but was stellar at shortstop and stroked two singles, including a two-out infield hit with a 1-2 count in the 10th that proved to be the game-winner.
Burcham, Krieger, and first baseman Nate Freiman completed two double plays together, including an inning-ending one with 2 men on base in the 6th inning.
With two outs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the score tied 1-1, and a man on first, Lavarnway’s laser throw to second base erased a stolen-base attempt and sent the game into extra innings.
While Marquis opened the game with three scoreless innings, reliever Josh Zeid did the same at the end, yielding one hit and 2 walks while fanning 4, including a game-ending strikeout of slugger Dae-Ho Lee.
Israel plays Chinese Taipei tonight (Monday, March 6) at 10pm ET on the MLB Network cable station.
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