The hits just keep on coming for Team Israel.
Every starter in the batting order reached base at least once, while Israel used a total of nine pitchers to defeat The Netherlands 4-2, concluding their sweep of Pool A competition in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.
Third baseman Ty Kelly walked twice and scored two runs, while Nate Freiman, Zach Borenstein and Ryan Lavarnway had one RBI each against a team loaded with professional talent. Israel's pitching staff held Netherlands' 3-4-5 hitters to a combined 1-8 in the hit column. Jurickson Profar had a perfect night, going 3-3 at the plate with two doubles, and Jonathan Schoop and Didi Gregorius had a hit each to combine for the only hits the Dutch would earn.
Israel scored three of their four runs in the first inning as Freiman drove in Kelly on a double to left, Borenstein scored Davis on a ground-out to second, and Lavarnway lined a shot into left to score Freiman. Netherlands responded in the top of the third when Xander Bogaerts drove in Randolph Oduber on a grounder to Kelly at third, but Wladimir Balentien ended the inning on another grounder to third. After an error by Schoop allowing Kelly to reach, a walk to Davis, Lars Huijer cut loose a wild one that advanced the runners. Huijer followed up by hitting Freiman on a 3-2 pitch to load the bases. Borenstein's double-play grounder scored Kelly to make it 4-1, Israel.
When Sharlon Schoop reached on a wild throw to first by Kelly and Bogaerts drew a walk, Josh Zeid entered the game to face Balentien, who walked to load the bases. Jonathan Schoop swung at a high pitch out of the zone but reached on an errant throw by Tyler Krieger, scoring his brother Sharlon. Gregorius would bring an end to the scoring threat when he grounded into a double play on the first pitch he saw. It took Zeid only seven pitches to end the game as he retired Yurendell Decaster on a fly ball to Borenstein, Dashenko Ricardo on a grounder to Scott Burcham, and Randolph Oduber on a three-pitch strikeout.
Jason Marquis (1-0) picked up the win, though he pitched only one inning. It was a laundry list of hurlers after that: Jake Kalish, Joey Wagman, RC Orlan, Zack Thornton, Alex Katz, Dylan Axelrod, and Jeremy Bleich all saw action and each picked up a hold before Zeid got the save. The Mets' righty pitched 1 1/3 innings, walking one, striking out one and holding Netherlands hitless.
Rob Cordemans (0-1) gave up three of Israel's four runs on four hits and two walks while striking out one.
Netherlands missed out on a first-inning score when Profar was cut down at home after Balentien flew out to Sam Fuld in center, whose throw was relayed by Burcham and Freiman. Profar was also thrown out at third on a perfect throw from Borenstein and relay from Burcham in the top of the sixth when he tried to stretch a double.
Israel enters Pool E's second round currently in the 1st seed (Netherlands at #2), though the seeding of the remaining two teams has yet to be decided. Japan is now 2-0 after downing Cuba 11-6 and Australia 4-1. Japan will take on China this Friday (5 AM EST) and look to be favored to enter Pool E undefeated.
Australia, having beaten China 11-0 in Game 4 of the 1st round, faces an always-formidable Cuba tonight at 10 PM EST. If Japan loses to China and Australia beats Cuba, they will both advance but the higher seed will belong to Japan, as they have already beaten the Aussies. The rules get complicated, at times. In fact, it was Australia's win over the now-eliminated China that clinched Japan a spot in the second round.
With Israel, Japan and Netherlands all heading to Tokyo, they will be joined by the winner of tonight's AUS/CUB battle. Cuba is, as expected, the heavy favorite, but Australia's roster features a number of international veterans, as well as quite a few with experience in the pro ranks here in the States.
Meanwhile, a 41st ranked Israel will take a few days off from the diamond as they head to Japan for a second round to which they weren't expected to advance by many. After all, Vegas Insider has them at 200-1 odds to win it all. But it's not about that.
For now, the moment itself is what matters. And this team is just looking to make it last as long as they can.