Decker, Sterger on wild ride with Team Israel

Decker, Sterger on wild ride with Team Israel

SEOUL, South Korea -- From Brooklyn to Israel to Seoul, that's the frequent-flier miles Team Israel's Cody Decker and his fiancee, Jenn Sterger, have racked up in the past seven months during their World Baseball Classic journey.

The adventure will only continue from here after Israel earned a spot with the Netherlands in the second round of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, which begins this weekend in Tokyo. Israel defeated the Netherlands, 4-2, on Thursday to win Pool A with a 3-0 record.

"It's really exciting," said the 30-year-old Decker of going to Japan. "We're really excited that this game is going to be happening. Who knows what can happen today? We're all excited."

You can watch the second-round games -- as well as all World Baseball Classic games -- on MLB Network and MLB.TV.

Visiting Israel, Seoul and Japan was all thanks to Decker, said Sterger. Before these trips, the 33-year-old, who met the Brewers' infielder/outfielder through Twitter, had never flown outside of the United States.

"It's so surreal. It's going to be so much fun," said Sterger, who rose to fame from her days as a Florida State University cowgirl and then as a sideline hostess for the New York Jets. "There are so many different things that are on my bucket list to do in Japan already."

Sterger on her love for baseball

While Decker, who went 2-for-8 in three Pool A games, is pumped to play at the Tokyo Dome, he's not getting ahead of himself over how Team Israel will fare in the next round. Pool E will include Israel, the Netherlands, Japan and whichever second team emerges from Pool B between Cuba, China and Australia. Israel will play in the first game of the second round, on Saturday at 10 p.m. ET against the runner-up from Pool B, live on MLB.TV.

"I think it's best to go with the unexpected," Decker said. "I don't want to know what's coming. I just want to go and enjoy myself and get ready to play some baseball. That's the main focus."

Decker mashes single to left

But behind the scenes, Decker is undaunted, Sterger said, and that Team Israel will show the rest of the remaining countries what it's made of.

"He's very confident," Sterger said. "He's confident in his team. He's been confident in this team since Day 1. I don't know why they came in such a dark horse. But he was just like, 'It's fine.' He's like, 'No one's talking about us. No one's talking about us. No one's paying attention to us.' And I kind of like it that way."

The couple's journey, as well as Team Israel's during the entire tournament, will be chronicled in a documentary called "Heading Home," by Ironbound Films.

Cody Decker on Israel's mascot

"Experiencing Jerusalem and all the different sights and all the different people and the religions that are there coexisting, it's a magical place," Sterger said. "You really can't even describe the atmosphere, you just feel like you're amongst something that's so much bigger than yourself when you're there. And it really felt like home for both of us.

"It's been a wild ride ever since [the] Brooklyn [qualifiers] last fall. I really couldn't be more grateful that he's brought me along on the experience."

Sterger on Team Israel's Mensch

And Sterger said, Decker has already thought about Los Angeles, which is hosting the World Baseball Classic semis and final.

The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.

Chris Han is an editorial producer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.