Team Israel's storybook run through this year's World Baseball Classic is over, falling to tournament power Japan early Wednesday morning, 8-3.
Israel would have needed to beat Japan in order to force a tiebreaker game, but saw their tournament magic run out with a 5-run 6th inning for Japan. The host country for the Asian side of the bracket would add 3 more runs in the bottom of the 8th before Israel scored three in the top of the 9th.
Brewers farmhand Cody Decker didn't appear in the loss and went hitless in the second round.
Japan once again advances to the championship round in Los Angeles, and remains the only team in tournament history to make it to the semifinals in every WBC. This year, they do it with an undefeated 6-0 record.
Israel needed a win against Japan in part because the Kingdom of the Netherlands' offense once again exploded. A day after trouncing Israel 12-2, the Dutch crushed Cuba by a score of 14-1, ending the game after 7 innings.
Wladimir Balentien, who has become a home-run hitting legend in Japan, has felt right at home during the first two rounds of the tournament. Balentien flashed his prodigious power on Tuesday night, crushing two home runs in the first three innings.
Wladimir Balentien does not like keeping balls in the ballpark: https://t.co/ccHt4DcvBv #WBC2017 pic.twitter.com/4vmN2JpYfj— WBC Baseball (@WBCBaseball) March 15, 2017
The Netherlands returns to the WBC semifinals and will face the winner of Pool F, which contains Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic and the United States.
Puerto Rico Suave
On the Western Hemisphere side of the bracket, nobody's clicking quite like Puerto Rico. The hot streak continued with a 3-1 upset of the defending champion Dominicans in a game that was just plain old fun.
Yadier Molina powered Puerto Rico with 2 RBI, including a solo home run. He also played a role in the most memorable highlight of the game, gunning down Nelson Cruz on a steal attempt (no, really) -- but it was Javy Baez's celebration tag that got the attention.
Tag THEN celebrate?— MLB (@MLB) March 15, 2017
Way too basic for @Javy23Baez. #WBC2017 pic.twitter.com/d0o3t60EIJ
Both teams have Brewers representation, but none appeared in this game.
The unexpected loss for the Dominican Republic makes Saturday’s game against the United States a very important game -- potentially for both sides if Team USA can't come away with a win in their first second round game tonight.
Venezuela vs. United States, 8 p.m. CDT
The Americans will send Drew Smyly to the mound against Felix Hernandez. Hernan Perez likely won't get the start for Venezuela, but could make an appearance late in the game. He's mostly been used as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement thus far.