Israel manager and San Diego Padres special assistant Brad Ausmus was mindful of the perceived favoritism he was showing to Padres prospect Nate Freiman, batting him third and starting him at first base in the first games of the World Baseball Classic's qualifying round.
"I caught some heat," Ausmus told on-site MLB.com reporter Adam Berry, "but he's making me look good."
After homering twice on Wednesday, Freiman went deep twice more as Israel topped Spain, 4-2, on Friday, Day 3 of WBC action in Jupiter, Fla.
"If Nate keeps hitting, there'll be no stopping him," Ausmus added. "The organization's definitely watching. I received a text after the first game from Josh Byrnes, the general manager, who said, 'Tell Freiman to keep raking.' I'm guessing I'll get a similar text tonight."
Freiman's two-run blast toward left field in the sixth gave Israel its first lead, and his two-run shot toward center in the eighth offered some insurance. The 25-year-old right-handed hitter is now 4-for-9 with six RBIs through two international games. He had just one multi-homer game this past season in the Minors, but that doesn't tell the story of his 24-homer, 105-RBI campaign at Double-A San Antonio.
"Baseball's just a game where you have enough at-bats over enough time, good things will happen and bad things will happen," Freiman, an eighth-round draftee in 2009, told MLB.com. "It's good to see the ball. It was nice to get a couple runs for the team today.
"I spent the full season in Double-A [in 2012]. My goal is to come into Spring Training in good shape, strong, healthy as I can, do the best I can in Spring Training and let the organization decide. They've been great to me. I've played every day since the day I signed. I've never had to split playing time. I can't ask any more out of the Padres. We'll see what happens in the spring."
Dodgers fourth-ranked prospect Joc Pederson also helped the cause, singling twice and scoring once.
Israel starter Justin Schumer, a San Francisco Giants prospect, gave up an unearned run on six hits over 5 2/3 frames. Schumer (1-0) recorded 10 of his 17 outs on the ground.
Spain starter Richard Salazar also pitched well, yielding two runs -- both on Freiman's sixth-inning shot -- on four hits over six innings.
"'Schu' pitched awesome. It was nice that we could get him a lead," Freiman said. "Our work's not done. We don't have the luxury of being able to absorb a loss on Sunday. So it was great, we're happy right now, but our work's not done here. Our sights are set on Sunday."
In other WBC qualifying action:
Germany 16, Czech Republic 1
Germany scored 13 of its runs in the fifth and sixth innings, after which the game was called due to mercy rule on Day 2 of the Regensburg, Germany, qualifier. Eleven different players collected an RBI for the victorious team, including third baseman Matt Weaver, whose grand slam capped an eight-run fifth.
Germany also pitched well: Starter Mike Bolsenbroek (1-0) allowed only an unearned run on five hits over 5 1/3 frames. Czech counterpart Michael Sobotka (0-1) was the first of three hurlers to yield four or more Germany runs. The two teams next play separate games Saturday. Gameday box score »