By Sam Bell, Sports Editor
Image courtesy of pexels.com
This year professional baseball came a few weeks early with the start of the World Baseball Classic, which happens once every four years. The best players from around the globe team up with their country to be crowned the best in the world.
The bracket is set up in a round robin format for the first two rounds, and then single elimination for the semifinals and final. This means that the teams in each pool play each other and the top two teams in the pool advance on. In the first round, there were four pools and four teams per pool. Pool A consisted of Israel, the Netherlands, Korea and Chinese Taipei. After their three games, Israel and the Netherlands came out victorious and moved on.
Pool B took place in Tokyo at the Tokyo Dome, and had Japan, Cuba, Australia and China in it. After three hard fought games per team, Japan and Cuba moved on to the second round. Pool C took place on American soil in Miami, and consisted of the United States, the Dominican Republic, Canada and Colombia. America and the Dominican Republic were the two teams to hang on in Pool C.
Last but certainly not least, Pool D contained Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Italy and Mexico. This was the only pool that needed a tiebreaker between Venezuela and Italy, and Venezuela came out on top to advance. Puerto Rico also made it through fairly easily.
In the second round, there were only two pools (Pool E and F). Pool E featured the winners from Pools A and B, so Japan, the Netherlands, Israel and Cuba went head-to-head for their opportunity at making it to the semifinals. In the end, Japan and the Netherlands proved to be too much for Israel and Cuba. As for Pool F, the teams traveled over to San Diego to compete. The victors to survive and advance were Puerto Rico and the United States.
The semifinals and final took place in Los Angeles at Dodger Stadium. In the semifinals there were two matchups: Puerto Rico vs. the Netherlands and Japan vs. the United States. In the first semifinal game, Puerto Rico edged out the Netherlands by a score of 4-3 to secure a spot in the finals. In game two, the United States defeated Japan to clinch their first ever spot in the finals of the World Baseball Classic.
Speaking of firsts, the United States had another first in the World Baseball Classic, blowing out Puerto Rico 8-0 to bring home the hardware. Team USA can now call themselves champions, at least for the next four years until the World Baseball Classic rolls back around.