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Friday, September 21, 2012

World Baseball Classic Begins, Qualifying Rounds Start

I may be the only baseball fan in the world that gives a huge flip about these games. 

Still, the World Baseball Classic is now the premier baseball tournament in the world.  The International Baseball Federation halted the Baseball World Cup, a tournament that had been played since 1938, to put weight behind the newly-expanded Classic.

For the 2013 series, 16 teams are playing in four qualifying pools in order to determine who will advance to the main tournament next year.  Four teams in the pools have played in previous Classics while 12 others are newcomers to the tourney:

Pool A - Roger Dean Stadium, Jupiter, FL

South Africa

Pool B - Armin-Wolf Baseball Arena, Regensburg, GER

Czech Republic
Great Britain

Pool C - Rod Carew National Stadium, Panama City, PAN


Pool D - Xinzhuang Stadium, New Taipei City, TPE

Chinese Taipei (Taiwan)
New Zeland

The qualification games are currently being played, with each pool in double-elimination format.

Game 1, Pool A: Israel 7, South Africa 3

Israel's debut in the World Baseball Classic went swimmingly, their first win coming against WBC veteran South Africa.  First baseman Nate Freiman, a Padres prospect, hit two solo home runs and  Former major leaguer Shawn Green singled twice in five at-bats and scored a run.  Pirates farmhand Charles Cutler also lent support with a three-run double in the eighth. 

South Africa rallied with three runs in the ninth, but it was too late for a huge comeback.

Game 2, Pool A: Spain 8, France 0

There's no love lost between these two countries on the diamond, either.  Spain pounced early, scoring seven in the first three innings, and kept France off the board the rest of the way.  Nick Schumacher, who last played in the minors in 2010, tossed a shutout for 6 1/3 innings.  Rangers prospect Engel Beltre and free agent Paco Figueroa both had three hits, with Beltre hitting a triple.  Former Brave Barbaro Canizares capped Spain's scoring with a homer in the eighth.

Israel will play Spain next, and South Africa will go against France.

Game 1, Pool B: Canada 11, Great Britain 1, 7 inn.

Unceremoniously booted out of the last Classic in pool play, the Canadian team needed to get off to a good start here.  Great Britain kept it close, with the score 3-1 after six innings.  Phillies prospect Albert Cartwright hit a solo homer off of starter and former major leaguer Shawn Hill (Blue Jays) to bring the game to that score.  Canada then delivered the knockout blow with eight runs in the seventh, including a walk-off two-run triple by Tyson Gillies (Phillies).  Jimmy Van Ostrand (Nationals) and Skyler Stromsmoe (Giants) drove in three runs each for Canada.