Round 1 kicked off last night, and the big story revolves around Cinderella teams. Netherlands seems to be a real threat to do some damage in later rounds, cruising to a homer-fueled 5-0 victory over the highly touted Korea team. Jurickson Profar struck first with a 2-run homer in the first, followed by a solo blast by Randolph Oduber. The pitching by Rick van den Hurk cooled off the potent offense of a Korean team that boasts Dae-Ho Lee and Seung-Hwan Oh.
The other team that nobody thought had any potential as a real weapon is the Israel. This underdog team has sprites to 2-0 in a heartbreaker for Korea and a rout of Chinese Taipei. This is another unexpectedly loaded team that host the likes of prospect Ty Kelly and Tyler Krieger, and an experienced Ike Davis. With a walk-off win against Chinese Taipei, they advanced to round 2 with a spotless 3-0 record.
Underdog Israel and it's Mensch on the Bench is tearing through the WBC as an unlikely weapon.
To take a break from the unexpected, Japan is smashing through the tournament again with a 2-0 start with a smash win against Cuba, 11-6 and surviving a 4-1 scare against another potential underdog, Australia despite losing superstar Shohei Ohtani. However, 2 new stars emerged. Nobuhiro Matsuda and
Yoshitomo Tsutsugo and his clutch hitting lifted a powerful Japan team past Cuba and Australia.