World Baseball Classic recap: Korea gets a win on home soil

The last 24 hours of games saw play in Pool A come to a close with a tense extra-innings game between Korea and Chinese Taipei, and Israel and the Netherlands fighting it out for the top seed in Pool A. Oh, and China and Australia also played in Pool B, but that wasn’t the fun-filled affair the other games were. Let’s get to it.

Israel 4, Netherlands 2
This game was solely to determine the top seed in Pool A, and Israel still has the hot hand. It will go into the next round with a perfect 3-0 record thanks to their victory against the Netherlands. These teams are almost perfectly matched, and this was a hard fought game, with both teams unfurling their best skills to try and get the win. Israel scored three runs in the first, and then the Netherlands’ infield went into action to stop more runs from scoring. Only one more run would cross the plate for Israel, but since the Dutch offense couldn’t get started, it was more than enough to win.

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The Netherlands had the opportunity to tie it up in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded and two young MLB stars coming up. But Josh Zeid is on fire right now, pitching in long relief for his second game of the tournament. He allowed no hits in 1 2/3 innings, and despite a walk and a fielding error that scored a run, secured the win for Israel. So Israel is moving on that the top of its pool, making history in its first appearance in the WBC. But that’s not the only history that was made during this game. There was more!


Australia 11, China 0
There isn’t much to say about this game that you don’t already see in the score. China was overmatched, and Australia just let loose. They hit three doubles, two homers, and one triple against China, whose pitching and offense couldn’t find a spark. China had just five hits on the whole night, while Australia had 9, along with 11 (!!!!!) walks. (That is a lot of walks.) Two players were responsible for the lion’s share of Australia’s runs. James Beresford, formerly of the Minnesota Twins, drove in four runs thanks to an eighth-inning grand slam, and Luke Hughes drove in four with a double and a two-run homer.

It has not been the best tournament for Team China so far. They’ve dropped two games, and unless they pull off a miracle win against Japan (which is overwhelmingly unlikely since it’s Japan), they’ll leave the WBC 0-3 and will have to play to qualify for the tournament in 2021. Australia is 1-1, and will face the formidable Cuba next.

South Korea’s Kim Tae-kyun, center, is greeted by Son Ah-seop and Kim Pyung-ho, right, after hitting a two run homer against Taiwan’s pitcher Chun Hung Wen during the 10th inning of their first round game of the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo)
South Korea’s Kim Tae-kyun, center, is greeted by Son Ah-seop and Kim Pyung-ho, right, after hitting a two run homer against Taiwan’s pitcher Chun Hung Wen during the 10th inning of their first round game of the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, March 9, 2017. (AP Photo)

Korea 11, Chinese Taipei 8
This is the game that MLB Network should have shown instead of the beating that Australia put on China. This game was between two teams that hadn’t yet captured a victory, and the team that won wouldn’t have to go through the qualifying process for the 2021 WBC. Plus, one of the teams playing was the home team which had drastically underperformed their expectations. Even though neither team had a chance to make it to the second round, this was a game that meant something, while the Australia-China game would most likely be (and was) a one-sided contest. MLB Network’s poor decision was confirmed by the second inning, when Chinese Taipei began to crawl back from an early 6-0 deficit, and the game got really exciting.

Korea had jumped out to a 6-0 lead in the second inning, and for a few minutes it looked like it was going to be another one-sided beat down. But Chinese Taipei didn’t wait long to start working on Korea’s pitchers. In the second, they scored three runs on three singles, a double, and a hit-by-pitch. Both teams scored two runs in the fourth, but Chinese Taipei was still down three runs. But Chinese Taipei kept chipping away; two runs in the sixth brought them within one, and one in seventh tied it up, completing their magical comeback. Each team threatened in the ninth inning, but no one scored and the game went into extras tied 8-8. And then Korea found their bats again, yanking two homers in the tenth and putting the game out of reach for Chinese Taipei. Couldn’t both teams win?

It’s hard to single out any one thing from this game that was especially wonderful, since it was everything you want a WBC game to be. The players, playing for (almost) nothing but honor, were completely fired up and engaged in the game. But the crowd was amazing. The stadium was filled with fans of both teams, and the cheering and support from both sides made everything more fun. Everyone was there because they cared, and isn’t that the point of the WBC to begin with?

MUST-SEE PLAY
There’s been a lot of exciting WBC baseball in the last 24 hours, but this game-tying hit from Chinese Taipei trumps them all. They did come back from a 6-0 deficit, after all.

WHAT’S NEXT?
With play in Pool A complete and Pool B coming to a close, we’re finally getting to Pool C and Pool D, which have players you most definitely know. Let’s look at the next 24 hours of games.

  • Canada vs. Dominican Republic (Pool C Game 1, Miami): Thursday 3/9, 6pm ET, MLB Network and MLB.TV

  • Mexico vs. Italy (Pool D Game 1, Jalisco): Thursday 3/9, 9pm ET, MLB Network and MLB.TV

  • Australia vs. Cuba (Pool B Game 5, Tokyo): Thursday 3/9, 10pm ET, MLB.TV (MLB Network will show this game on tape delay at midnight ET)

  • China vs. Japan (Pool B Game 6, Tokyo): Friday 3/10, 5am ET, MLB Network and MLB.TV

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Liz Roscher is a writer for Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email her at lizroscher@yahoo.com or follow her on twitter! Follow @lizroscher

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