The 16th and final team in the 2017 World Baseball Classic has been decided, and it’s
Team Israel rode some terrific pitching and three home runs to trounce Great Britain in the Brooklyn Qualifier finals and advance to the 2017 World Baseball Classic. They will play in a group with South Korea, Chinese Taipei and China in South Korea next March.
Pitching was the name of the game for Israel, as starter Jason Marquis pitched four perfect innings and Josh Zeid threw three innings of no-hit relief. Great Britain did not have a baserunner until Zeid walked Jasrado Chisholm with one out in the seventh inning.
Phillies minor league reliever Jeremy Bleich took over for Zeid in the eighth and he gave up the first Great Britain hit of the game to Albert Cartwright with two out in the eighth inning. Cartwright would go to second on an error and score on a single by Chavez Young.
Meanwhile, Israel brought out the long ball on offense. Independent Atlantic League outfielder Blake Gailen broke a scoreless tie in the fifth inning with a two-run home run off of Great Britain reliever Ali Knowles. Gailen was the first batter Knowles faced. Knowles would then walk the next batter, Zach Borenstein, and exit the game for Rei Martinez. But that didn’t help any as Ryan Lavarnway hit the second two-run home run of the inning to give Israel a 4-0 lead, which was more than they would need.
Borenstein hit an RBI triple in the sixth. Royals minor leaguer Cody Decker would add a solo home run in the seventh. Israel made the game a rout after scoring three runs in the bottom of the eighth, but Great Britain did keep the lead under 10 runs, preventing a loss by the mercy rule.
So the 16 team field for the 2017 World Baseball Classic is now set. As I’ve written before, each tournament has been better than the last one and I’m expecting the 4th one this spring to be the best one yet.