With eight players who are either Bahamians, or with Bahamian roots, and two Bahamian coaches, on its roster, Team Great Britain is swinging for the fences at the 2023 World Baseball Classic which is currently ongoing at four major cities around the world.
The Taichung Intercontinental Baseball Stadium in Taichung, Taiwan, is the host venue for Pool A, the Tokyo Dome in Tokyo, Japan, is the site for Pool B, Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona, United States, is the venue for Pool C, and loanDepot Park in Miami, Florida, United States, is where the Pool D games are being played.
Great Britain is on Pool C with Canada, Colombia, Mexico and host country the United States. The United States is the defending champion of the classic.
The team lost its first two games, 6-2, to the United States and, 18-8, to Canada, but bounced back in a huge way yesterday, defeating a strong Colombian team, 7-5. The fifth installment of the World Baseball Classic runs until March 21 when the championship game will be held.
The Bahamians are certainly making their presence felt.
In yesterday’s huge victory over Colombia, Grand Bahamian Chavez Young, the starting right fielder, had a huge game-tying two-run, two-out hit in the bottom of the fourth inning.
After Great Britain fell behind 3-0 early, Bertram ‘BJ’ Murray Jr., another Bahamian, got the rally started with a sacrifice fly to left field in the bottom of the fourth. Murray was the starting third baseman for Great Britain yesterday. Two walks and a strikeout after Murray’s sacrifice fly, with the bases loaded, Young struck for the team. He drilled a shot through the left side of the infield, plating two runners and tying the score at three.
Great Britain scored two runs in the bottom of the fifth to take a 5-3 lead and added two insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh.
A rally by Colombia in the top of the ninth fell short as Cleveland Guardians’ minor leaguer Meibrys Viloria struck out swinging, with a runner at second base, to end the game.
Great Britain prevailed 7-5, picking up its first-ever victory in the five editions of the World Baseball Classic.
Young finished the game against Colombia with that two-run single in three at-bats and added a walk. He also had a stolen base yesterday – his fourth of the tournament. Young is batting .333 for the tournament. Murray had a double in three at-bats with a RBI yesterday and is batting .222 for the tournament. Trayce Thompson of the Los Angeles Dodgers, the youngest son of Bahamian sports legend Mychal “Sweet Bells” Thompson and the brother of Golden State Warriors’ star guard Klay Thompson, bats number two in the lineup behind Young. He was 0-for-3 yesterday, but is hitting .300 for the tournament including a huge home run against the United States on Saturday. The other Bahamian in the starting lineup on Monday, Anfernee Seymour, went hitless in four at-bats, and has just one hit in 10 at-bats in the tournament.
Cleveland Guardians’ minor leaguer Dayan Frias, the starting shortstop of the Colombian team yesterday, finished 2-for-4 with two RBIs.
The other Bahamians on Team Great Britain are pitchers Chavez Fernander and Tahnaj Thomas, outfielder D’Shawn Knowles and catcher Ural Forbes. Knowles has two hits in five at-bats with a RBI (run batted in) and a run scored in the tournament and Forbes is 0-for-1.
The two Bahamian pitchers are yet to experience significant action. Fernander got in the game yesterday and gave up two hits and two walks in an inning of work. Thomas is yet to experience action. The two Bahamian coaches on the team are first base coach Albert Cartwright and bench coach Antoan Richardson – the sixth Bahamian to play in Major League Baseball (MLB).
It doesn’t get any easier for Team Great Britain as they are set to play Mexico at 10 p.m. tonight. That game will end pool play for Great Britain and will be vital for advancement purposes. The team needs to win to have a shot to move on to the quarterfinals which get underway on Thursday.
As it stands, The Bahamas is unable to field a team at the World Baseball Classic level due to a lack of participation in qualifying tournaments, and the Bahamians are eligible to suit up for Great Britain by means of having at least one parent who was, even if deceased, born in a British territory. The Bahamas was a British colony up until its independence in 1973.