NEW YORK (JTA) — Five pitchers combined on a three-hitter and Cody Decker drove in the game’s run with a sacrifice fly to send Israel to a 1-0 victory over Brazil on Friday in the qualifying round of the World Baseball Classic and a spot in the finals.
Starter Corey Baker surrendered one hit in five innings and Brad Goldberg picked up his second save of the tournament in the victory at MCU Park on Brooklyn’s Coney Island.
Israel will likely face either Brazil again or Great Britain, which it defeated, 5-2, on Thursday in its opening game, in the finals at 6 p.m. Sunday. (The game will be livestreamed at worldbaseballclassic.com.) The Brooklyn qualifying round’s champion will play in South Korea in March.
In 2012, Israel’s inaugural WBC team narrowly missed making the tournament, a quadrennial event modeled after soccer’s World Cup.
Decker’s fly ball to center field scored Nate Freiman, who had doubled to lead off the fourth inning and moved to third on an error by the Brazilian first baseman on a ground ball by Ike Davis.
“Every run is precious,” Decker, who plays in the Boston Red Sox organization and is a former major leaguer with the San Diego Padres, said when asked about his game-winning at-bat. “Any accomplishment I make or anyone else makes is everyone’s. It does not mean any more to me than if Nate or Ryan [Lavarnway] did it.”
Ryan Sherriff came on in relief with two outs in the eighth inning and escaped a first and second jam when Decker, playing third base, swipe-tagged the Brazilian runner racing to the bag on a grounder. Goldberg pitched a perfect ninth with one strikeout.
Israel also only had three hits.
A sparse crowd took in the noontime game, including Dan Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel and the ex-commissioner of the Israel Baseball League. Kurtzer sat behind Israel’s dugout alongside Art Shamsky, a member of the New York Mets’ world championship team in 1969, and ex-New York Yankees executive Marty Appel.