Nat’l team crushed by minnows Israel

The China Post

By Joseph Yeh — Taiwan’s national team suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of baseball minnows Israel on Tuesday, going down 15-7 in its opening game of the 2017 World Baseball Classic (WBC).

With a combined 20 hits, among them two homers by Ryan Lavarnway and Nate Freiman, the explosive batters of Team Israel crushed the Chinese Taipei team at Gocheok Sky Dome in the WBC Pool A match. Taiwan’s six pitchers gave up a total of 15 runs, an all-time high for the national team at the WBC. The previous record was 14 when the team lost to Cuba 14-0 in the 2013 edition of WBC. The results marked a continuation of the Cinderella story of rank-outsiders Israel. The team, made up almost entirely of Americans of Jewish descent, pulled off a dramatic win against hosts South Korea on Monday.

Israel is the only side in the 16-team WBC to be ranked outside the top 20 in the world rankings, coming in at No. 41 in the world and entering the tournament with 200-to-1 odds to win it all. “The biggest problem for us today was that our starting pitcher gave up too many runs right at the beginning of the game,” Taiwan’s team manager Kuo Tai-yuan (郭泰源) told reporters after the game. He also said Israel was a “fearful opponent.”

Israel chased Taiwanese starter Kuo Chun-lin (郭俊麟) right from the off, as they launched a four-run opening frame with six hits to end Kuo’s day before he could secure his third out. Left-hander Chen Kuan-yu (陳冠宇) managed to silence the explosive Israeli batting lineup for two short innings before he gave up another two runs to Lavarnway, whose two-run homer in the third gave Israel a comfortable 6-run to 0 lead. Taiwan’s offense finally woke into life at the bottom of the sixth, with No. 4 batter Lin Chih-sheng’s (林智勝) two-run double and Lin Yi-chuan’s (林益全) sacrifice fly ball closing the gap to 6-3. But a chaotic five-run seventh inning, a result of reliever Lin Chen-hua’s (林晨樺) throwing error and another made by third baseman, saw Taiwan’s resolve collapse completely, as Israel widened the gap to 11-3. Too Little, Too Late Israel added one run in the eighth and another three in the ninth to make the gap an unassailable 15-3. Taiwan rallied at the bottom of the ninth with four runs but the belated offense was too little too late. Israel’s second consecutive win means the team is almost certain to advance to the second round. By contrast, Taiwan’s future in WBC looks bleak.

It faces two uphill battles, playing the Netherlands on Wednesday and then hosts South Korea on Thursday.