The Czech Republic had a rough go at the World Baseball Classic this year as they were eliminated by Australia after an 8-3 loss and finished pool play with a 1-3 record.
Czech Republic players got to face some of the best players in the world and left Tokyo with an experience of a lifetime, even if there were some bumps and bruises along the way.
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William Escala was hit by a pitch from Japan’s Roki Sasaki on Saturday. He hit the dirt writhing in pain and holding his knee. Sasaki, one of the top prospects in Japan, hit Escala with a 100-mph fastball. He threw 21 pitches at 100 mph or more.
Escala said afterward the entire experience was all worth it and Sasaki found a unique way to apologize.
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“He gave me some goodies, and a bunch of different candies and stuff like that,” he said. “And then I asked him if he could sign the ball as a memory for me. Something I will keep. Very cool. Something I’ll cherish and never forget.”
Japan’s team Twitter account showed a pitcher of the two players. Escala was holding a giant bag of candy.
“That was a wow moment,” Escala’s teammate Petr Zyma told MLB.com. “The Japanese culture never stops to amaze me each day we are here. They once again took it to another level as a superstar that Roki is; he took his time to come to the bus, meet Escala, send us a bunch of candy and sign a ball for Willie. It was a huge sign of respect.”
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Pool play is nearly finished and Japan so far is the lone team to finish their first four games undefeated. Pool C and Pool D still need to play out.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.