The 2017 World Baseball Classic began in dramatic fashion on Monday, with Israel beating Pool A host Korea, 2-1, in 10 innings in the tournament's opening game.
With MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred in attendance at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Israel finally broke through in the top of the 10th. With runners on first and third and two outs, Scott Burcham stepped in against Korea's Chang-Yong Lim and slapped a two-strike grounder up the middle. Korean second baseman Geonchang Seo made a sliding stop to keep the ball in the infield, but he had no play on any of the runners, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Josh Zeid closed out the game for Israel, including striking out Korea slugger Dae-Ho Lee -- who hit 14 homers for the Mariners last season -- to end the game.
Right-hander Jason Marquis started for Team Israel -- which was playing its first Classic game -- and pitched three scoreless innings. The 15-year Major League veteran allowed two hits and struck out three before leaving with Israel holding a 1-0 lead.
Korea's starter, left-hander Won-Jun Chang, kept Israel's bats mostly in check over four innings, allowing one run on two hits and striking out five, thanks mainly to an effective slider. But some control issues in the second inning led to an Israel run -- Chang walked three in the frame, including Tyler Krieger with the bases loaded.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED Oh dominates: Cardinals closer Seung Hwan Oh, Team Korea's only Major League player, came in in a critical situation and overmatched the Israeli hitters. With the bases loaded and two outs in the eighth inning, and the game still tied at 1, Korean manager In-Sik Kim called on Oh, who rang up Burcham to end the inning. Oh remained in the game for the ninth and pitched a scoreless frame, including two more strikeouts. The 34-year-old has now pitched in all four World Baseball Classics.
Missed opportunities: Israel loaded the bases three times in the game, but came away with only one run, on Krieger's walk in the second. With two opportunities to break open a tie game late, the Israelis came up empty. In the seventh inning, they loaded the bases with two outs against Hyun-Seung Lee. Blake Gailen worked a 3-0 count, and after taking a strike, he thought he had drawn a go-ahead walk as Lee's offering came in on the low border of the strike zone. But the pitch was called a strike, and on 3-2, Gailen lined out to end Team Israel's threat.
An inning later, Israel left the bases loaded again. With one out, Changmin Lim induced a check-swing grounder from Krieger on a full count, and Korea got the force at home. Then Korea brought in Oh, who kept the game tied.
Seo ties the game: Seo came through for the home team in the fifth inning with a game-tying base knock. Facing a lefty-lefty matchup against Jeremy Bleich with one out and runners on first and second, Seo jumped on the first pitch he saw and sliced a clean shot through the left side. The single scored Kyoung-Min Hur for the Pool A hosts' first run of the tournament.