Team Israel’s first game of the 2023 World Baseball Classic against Nicaragua on Sunday was supposed to be its easy game before playing powerhouse teams Puerto Rico, Dominican Republic and Venezuela. But it took a come-from-behind win to put the Nicaragua team away.
Playing before a crowd of nearly 20,000 at Miami’s LoanDepot Park, Dean Kremer—first Israeli pitcher drafted by an MLB team and a current Baltimore Orioles starter—threw an impressive four shutout innings. Nicaragua’s only run came on a double in the fifth inning.
Israel trailed 1-0 through eight. After Matt Mervis grounded out, Alex Dickerson singled, advancing to second after Ryan Lavarnway was hit by a pitch. Spencer Horwitz lined a single, scoring Jakob Goldfarb (pinch running). Several batters later, Garrett Stubbs, a Triple-A catcher and outfielder for the Phillies and Team Israel’s third baseman, smacked a two-run, ground rule double to left field.
Horwitz and Noah Mendlinger crossing the plate were all that Israel needed to win 3-1, as the team’s reliever Robert Stock retired three batters in a row in the top of the ninth. The win belonged to Red Sox lefty Richard Bleier, who struck out two in relief in the eighth.
Israel sends lefty Colton Gordon, of the Houston Astros farm system, to the mound Monday against Puerto Rico at 7 p.m.