Scott Burcham’s two-out infield single in the top of the 10th inning brought home Mike Meyers from third with the winning run as Team Israel began its first appearance in the World Baseball Classic with a 2-1 victory over South Korea in Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome early Monday, March 6.
Because two of the four teams in the Seoul bracket will advance to the quarterfinals, and because Korea was the favorite to win the group, the victory gives Israel an excellent chance to advance. Israel plays again at 10 p.m. Monday against Taiwan, then finishes group play Wednesday against the Netherlands. All the games are on MLB Network.
The 10th-inning heroics by Burcham, a shortstop in the Colorado Rockies’ minor-league system, ended a frustrating day for Israel, which loaded the bases in the second, seventh and eighth innings but never got a hit with runners in scoring position in the first nine innings.
Israel hit several sharp line drives in key situations, but they were always right at Korean fielders. The most dramatic near-miss came with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh inning. Blake Gailen took what appeared to be ball four on a 3-1 pitch, then lined the next pitch up the middle. But Korean shortstop Jaeho Kim caught what would have been a two-run single.
Israel’s only run before the 10th came on a second-inning walk by Tyler Krieger that forced in first baseman Nate Freiman, who started spring training with the Braves last year.
Freiman, who went 0 for 4 with a walk, was one of three ex-Braves who started the game. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway went 1 for 3 with two walks, and pitcher Jason Marquis threw three shutout, two-hit innings despite appearing to struggle with his control.
Because Marquis threw fewer than 50 pitches, WBC rules allow him to pitch again Wednesday. The same is true for Josh Zeid, who got the win for Israel by shutting out Korea over the final three innings, and the other four pitchers who appeared in the game.
Israel outhit Korea, 8-7, and had the only two extra-base hits in the game, but the biggest difference came in walks: Israel had nine; Korea had four. Both teams struck out 10 times and left runners on base most innings.