Winning start for Czechs at first ever World Baseball Classic
The Czech national baseball team enjoyed a winning debut at the World Baseball Classic tournament in Tokyo on Friday, beating China 8-5 in their Group B encounter.
The Czech team qualified for the World Baseball Classic for the first time this year and they gave their scores of travelling fans plenty to cheer about in their debut game at the prestigious tournament.
Indeed the Czechs, coached by Pavel Chadim, were in control for most of the game at the Tokyo Dome.
They did find themselves themselves trailing by a point after a bad sixth inning, but then they turned the game around, deciding it in the ninth inning with four runs, three of which came from a home run by veteran Martin Mužík.
Mužík told the tournament website after Friday’s game that the situation felt unreal.
“200 people flew from Czechia. They flew across the world to watch us and support us. It means a lot for us. They gave us huge energy and pushed us forward.”
For his part, captain Petr Zýma told Czech Radio that it had been an up and down encounter from the team’s perspective.
“I'm glad we showed that we can come back, that we don't put our heads down, we attacked, we got a couple of hitters to kick it in the ninth inning and that's what earned us the win. We were better the whole game. The first games are often the hardest, I'm glad we had some tough moments here.”
The Czech squad includes firefighters, salesmen and teachers and are considered the underdog of the tournament, so upsetting the Chinese can be considered a major achievement.
Czechia have at least three more games ahead of them in Tokyo. On Saturday they will challenge the favoured Japanese, before later facing South Korea and Australia. The top two teams in Group B will advance to the quarterfinals.