Friday, September 23, 2016

Israel Advances To WBC Qualifier Championship Game

Israel and Brazil exchanged caps before the game, continuing a tradition in international baseball. Photo by Jason Schott.
Israel beat Brazil in a thriller, 1-0, on Friday afternoon at MCU Park in the World Baseball Classic Qualifier.
With the win, Israel advances to the WBC Qualifier Championship Game on Sunday at 6:00 pm. for a spot in the World Baseball Classic next March.

Brazil will play Great Britain on Saturday night for the chance to reach the final game the following night. Great Britain beat Pakistan 14-0 on Friday night.

Israel got a superb outing from starting pitcher Corey Baker, who went five innings of shutout ball and allowed just one hit with six strikeouts. Baker is in the St. Louis Cardinals system and spent this season with the Double-A Springfield Cardinals.
Baker said of his game, "Me and (catcher) Ryan (Lavarnway) had a great game, and Ryan did a great job of keeping me on track today. That's the game I want to pitch. I want to keep the ball on the ground, I want to be efficient, and I probably wasn't as efficient today as I would like to be, but we stuck with the game plan."
Cody Decker was the other hero of the day for Israel, and he did it with his bat and glove.
Decker had a sacrifice fly to score Nate Freiman with the only run of the game in the fourth inning.
In the eighth inning, Brazil had runners at first and second with two out and Reinaldo Sato at the plate. Sato hit a sharp grounder to Decker at third, he fielded it and ran straight ahead and tagged out Leonardo Reginatto before he could reach third for the final out of the inning.
"Obviously, as you know, I just have pure instincts, that's just what I am, an instinctual creature," Decker said with perfect wit after the game. Decker is in the Boston Red Sox system, currently with the Double-A Portland Sea Dogs.
Brad Goldberg came on to pitch the ninth, and retired Brazil in order. The final out came when Luis Camargo shattered his bat and he grounded out to second base.
Israel first baseman Ike Davis, formerly of the Mets and Yankees, went 0-2 with two walks.
Israel Team Mascot: The Israeli team gets inspiration from their "mascot," Mensch on the Bench. Decker said of how it motivates the team, "It's the mensch on the bench, it explains itself. He's a mensch and he's on a bench and you take that and you put him on our bench. It's like exception, a dream within a dream within a dream. It's a mensch on a bench on a bench, and it's magical, so clearly it's been working, and he's going to be back on our bench on Sunday."
Decker said of who exactly the Mensch on a Bench is, "His identity can never be revealed. He's like Batman, you think we're going to divulge that type of secret?"

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