2017 World Baseball Classic Report (Day 10)
Pool E is officially finished with Japan and the Netherlands on their way to Los Angeles to play in the semi-finals.
Both teams have been there before as the 2013 tournament saw them move into the semi-finals with both teams losing their semi-final games.
It is still a familiar pair though as both teams have shown that they are teams to watch with Japan taking two of the three championships handed out in the history of the tournament.
As these big programs take a trip to Los Angeles an end to one of the best stories of the tournament has officially been written.
That story centred around a team making their first ever appearance in the tournament and surprised everyone with just how good they were.
The Israel baseball team wasn’t expected to amount to much this time around as most had them in the category of just happy to be there.
They had a number of MLB players but few big stars and although they had done well to make it to the tournament it was expected that they would be outclassed by Korea and the Netherlands.
Both of these teams had a bit more history in international baseball and a lot more success with bigger names throughout their rosters.
That is why the Israelis were scheduled to face the Koreans to open the tournament as the Koreans were meant to get an easy game in their opener at home.
They would get the win and the fans would be happy and ready for them to prepare for the challenge of the Netherlands.
Israel had other plans though as they surprised everyone by taking the win in their opening game and upsetting the Koreans.
It was a big win for the program but still most thought that they would struggle against the Dutch and might have a tough time with Chinese Taipei.
The Israelis rode their success in the opening game to a big win against Chinese Taipei that put them in good standing to move to the second round.
Then the bigger surprise, the Israelis beat the Dutch to go 3-0 in the first round and move into the second round in their first ever appearance.
Teams that had been in every tournament were struggling to get out of the first round while a team in its first year was inching towards a semi-final berth.
The great run continued when they beat the Cubans to open the second round but after that game, things began to slow down.
They took a loss to the Dutch in the rematch and finally took on the Japanese, which was closer than some thought it was going to be, and took their second loss of the tournament.
With that second loss, they were officially eliminated from the tournament heading home before they could make the trip to the USA.
Although things didn’t necessarily end the way that they and those who love the underdogs wanted they still made an impact.
It was a big tournament for a country that is not known for their great baseball program and it will only serve to grow the sport.
They will be back for the 2021 tournament and in that time there are sure to be a few more players either willing to join the team or more players rising through the ranks.
That is what the tournament is meant to do as the MLB wants the sport to grow and for more players from more places to play.
Israel’s performance should achieve that goal as nothing helps a program more than winning.
With winning comes more people watching and the more people that watch and have a team to cheer for the more they begin to love the game.
It could have an effect in that more Israeli-born people will pick up a bat and a glove to play like the team they saw on the national stage.
That is the hope at least and in four years it will either be proven or busted as the Israel baseball has four years to try to make an even bigger impact.
A team they know all too well, the Dutch, learned this quickly when Andruw Jones began playing for the team.
They started to get noticed and now they are one of the top four teams in the world as they get ready to compete for a title with plenty of stars.
They have some work to do and it starts now as the goal for Israel has turned into moving to the semi-finals in 2021 after such a great showing this time around.
Puerto Rico 3-1 Dominican Republic
– After a great first round the Dominicans were trying to keep their undefeated record to start the second round but the Puerto Ricans were there to stop them handing the defending champions their first loss of the tournament
Netherlands 14-1 Cuba
– The Cubans still had a shot but they needed this win if they wanted to move into the semi-finals while the Dutch were looking to get an important win for their chances and left no doubt with the big win
Japan 8-3 Israel
– It was a great story but the Israelis simply didn’t have enough to compete with the best in the tournament taking a loss to the Japanese and finishing their first ever World Baseball Classic while the Japanese clinched their fourth straight semi-final berth
Venezuela vs. USA (Wednesday, March 15th; 9:00 pm ET)
– The Americans are through their first big test but they are expected to do a lot more and they begin their second round against a very good Venezuelan team that is looking for the upset as both teams try to take a step towards the semi-finals