(Reuters) - Israel spoiled the opening night party for South Korea on Monday by claiming a 2-1 extra innings upset victory in the first game of the World Baseball Classic in Seoul.
After leaving the bases loaded in both the seventh and eighth innings, Israel finally broke the 1-1 tie on Scott Burcham’s infield single in the top of the 10th off former Major League Baseball reliever Lim Chang-yong.
For Israel, playing with a squad of former major leaguers and minor league players, it was a rousing result as they were the last nation to join the 16-team tournament with a qualifying round win over Britain last September.
It was a tough loss for South Korea, who reached the semi-finals and finals in the first two editions (2006, 2009) of the WBC and were playing in front of a noisy crowd of more than 15,000 at Gocheok Sky Dome.
Slugger Ike Davis started the game-winning rally with a lead-off walk and one out later lumbered to third on a single by Ryan Lavarnway.
With two outs, Burcham chopped a grounder up the middle for an infield single that scored pinch runner Mike Meyers for the winning run before a crowd of over 15,000.
Josh Zeid went three innings, striking out power-hitter Lee Dae-ho to end it and notch the win for Israel.
Israel scored the first run of the contest on a bases-loaded walk to Tyler Krieger in the second, and South Korea tied it in the fifth on a ground single to left by Seo Geon-chang.
Zeid gave up one hit, struck out four and threw 49 pitches, one less than the limit of 50 that would have forced him to miss the rest of the first round of Pool A play.
Israel will next play Taiwan in the first game of a Pool A doubleheader on Tuesday, followed by South Korea facing the Netherlands.
Japan host Cuba on Tuesday to launch Pool B play in Tokyo.
Pool C gets underway in Miami on Thursday with defending champions Dominican Republic playing Canada, while Pool D begins with Mexico hosting Italy in Guadalajara.
Reporting by Larry Fine in New York; Editing by Frank Pingue