World Baseball Classic 2023: Great Britain, Czech Republic Qualify

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Great Britain and the Czech Republic are in the World Baseball Classic. On Tuesday night, Great Britain trailed 9-8 against Spain entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Jaden Rudd belted the game-tying run to right field off reliever Rhiner Cruz to push the game to extra innings. The following night, the Czechs put out the red-hot Spain bats in the final game of the Regensburg Qualifiers for the 2023 World Baseball Classic.

World Baseball Classic Qualifier

Great Britain

Great Britain is the lowest-ranked team to have qualified for the tournament. With the game tied 9-9 in extra innings, Alex Crosby hit a sacrifice fly deep to left field. Matt Koperniak scored from third base for the walk-off victory. Their previous matches included wins over France and host Germany in a 12-team double-elimination event at the Armin-Wolf Arena.

Great Britain’s roster is prospects who play in lower levels of minor or independent leagues. Koperniak, who is from London, plays for the Double-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals. Although, two current MLB players represented the country in the qualifying tournament in 2017. Blake Taylor of the Houston Astros and Miami Marlins star Jazz Chisholm Jr., who will represent Great Britain again next year.

Czech Republic

The Czech Republic lost the opening match to Spain on Saturday. Then, they beat France, Germany and a rematch against Sapin. Czech pitcher Martin Schneider pitched 6 1/3 innings to keep the Spain bats cold. Schneider threw five strikeouts on five hits with one earned run. Marek Minarik, who Spain chased away in their first encounter, closed it out with 2 2/3 scoreless frames.

Unfortunately, it’s a disappointing loss for Spain, who never seemed to live up to its expectations. They were a heavy favorite to come out of the qualifying tournament. Spain squeaked a win against South Africa, 5-4, in their opening game before beating the Czechs and then losing to Great Britain on Tuesday night.

European baseball is rising, with Great Britain and the Czech Republic punching their tickets. A record number of five teams from Europe will be in next year’s main event. It’s the first time Great Britain and Czechia will play in the World Baseball Classic. Great Britain will join Pool A, which features Italy, Cuba, Netherlands, and Chinese Tapei. Czechia will compete against Japan, South Korea, Australia, and China in Pool B.

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Players/managers mentioned:

Jaden Rudd, Rhiner Cruz, Alex Crosby, Blake Taylor, Jazz Chisholm Jr.