Stubbs, Horowitz and Kremer lead Israel to emotional comeback WBC opener win

Mar 12, 2023 | Jews in Sports

By Elie Gelman

After a long wait, Team Israel finally got back on the baseball diamond on Sunday against Nicaragua as the blue-and-white started off pool play with a 3-1 comeback win. Israel continues its World Baseball Classic on Monday when they take on Puerto Rico at 7pm EDT/1am Tuesday morning in Israel.

Third baseman Garrett Stubbs was the star of the show, going 2-5 with 2 RBIs and bringing in the game-winning runs.

Dean Kremer – Photo Credit: MLB PHOTOS

Israeli Right-hander Dean Kremer started off the game strong, retiring the first three Nicaraguan batters while in the bottom of the 1st, manager Ian Kinsler’s crew had the bases loaded with Ryan Lavarnway up to bat, but pitcher Ronald Medrano was able to strike him out swinging. Again in the 2nd inning, Israel had a chance to score with men on first and second, but couldn’t capitalize, leaving another two men on base.

Kremer pitched four innings, striking out four, and only allowing three hits and impressed Kinsler with his showing, “A very clean 4 innings, he threw the ball really well. Kind of lost his release point in the second, but made a great adjustment and got back in the zone. His off speed stuff looked sharp, and seemed very much in control.”

Kremer himself also felt great about his performance in the victory, “Feeling good so far, really happy with how it went representing the country and for myself could not have imagined it going any better.”

Israel – Photo Credit: MLB PHOTOS

With Josh Wolf pitching for Israel in the top of the 5th, Nicaragua was able to open up the scoring when shortstop Steven Leyton hit a double allowing Sandy Bermudez to score to take a 1-0 lead.

In the bottom of the frame, center fielder Joc Pederson doubled, putting Israel in scoring position once again. With Matt Mervis up to bat, Israel was looking to tie the game up, but they were not able to take advantage as Mervis flied out to left field.

Once again, in the bottom of the 6th, Israel had men on second and third when Kinsler decided to insert Danny Valencia to pitch hit for shortstop Ty Kelly.

“He was ready to hit,” said Kinsler. “It was a big situation for us, a little bit late in the game and Danny is a clutch player, a big bat. Bases loaded, one out that puts him in the complete advantage so I felt it was a very good spot to pitch hit.” However, Nicaragua induced the former MLBer into a double play to hold Israel in check.

In the bottom of the 8th with men on first and second designated hitter Spencer Horowitz was up to bat. Down in the count 1-2 Horowitz swung on a ball just outside the strike zone and singled to left field allowing Jakob Goldfarb to score and tying up the game 1-1.

“You saw the emotion pouring out of me at second,” said Horowitz. “I normally try and stay calm, but in that moment it was quite a special feeling and I’m glad I could do it for these guys.”

Nicaragua intentionally walked Noah Mendlinger, loading up the bases once again for Israel as 3rd baseman Garrett Stubbs hit a double bringing in two more runs to give the blue-and-white a 3-1 lead.

Just like Horowitz, Stubbs felt the emotion after batting in the eventual game-winning runs, “I was psyched when Spence hit his hit and put us in a situation to win the ball game. Coming up in a situation with two outs and a chance to put us ahead. Like Spence said, emotions started flying in places like this, it’s a lot of excitement and fun.”

With Nicaragua down to their final three outs, Robert Stock came in to retire the side in the top of the 9th to record the save as Israel notched the win and moved to 2-0 all-time in World Baseball Classic openers.

Israel may have left 11 men on base but were able to sneak out a win against a talented Nicaragua team. Kinsler was proud of how his team stuck with it, “We put up some good at-bats. We were fighting, that’s what I expect from my team, play all 27 outs play till the end and today we were lucky enough to be on the right side. That’s what we got to do to win the games, we got to have our whole lineup contributing, we only have 12 position players and they all played today so there’s gonna be contributions even from guys on the bench they came in during important spot, everybody on the offensive side understands that.”

On Monday, Israel takes on a Puerto Rico team that is loaded with MLB talent including Francisco Lindor, Javier Báez, and Edwin Diaz. Puerto Rico is one of the best teams in the world but Kinsler and his squad are not counting themselves out just yet, “You try to win every game, any game that’s presented is the most important and that’s how we approached it today and tomorrow it will be the same regardless of opponents. Obviously, they are really good teams, they are stacked with a bunch of experienced big leaguers but we are going to give it our best shot.”

Israel fans – Photo Credit: Dan Passner

“In baseball, anything can happen, sometimes it’s a crazy game,” said Kinsler. “When you play one game as opposed to a series anything can happen. The team understands that. It’s not necessarily the best team that wins but the team that plays the best that day. We have just as good a shot as anybody. We are going to give our best shot and make things interesting.”

With pool D being one of the best in the tournament, many people are not expecting another performance like in 2017 but Spencer Horowitz and the rest of Israel are using that as motivation, “No one is really giving us a shot in this pool and we like it that way. We are gonna go out there and do everything we can to compete and wherever the balls land they land.”

Sign up for our newsletter


You may also like…

Subscribe To Our Newsletter

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates. 

You have Successfully Subscribed!