Sydney, Mexicali, Panama City, New York host WBC qualifiers

NEW YORK (AP) — Qualifying for the 2017 World Baseball Classic will start in Australia in February.

Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines and South Africa will play at Sydney’s Blacktown International Sportspark from Feb. 11-14.

Czech Republic, Mexico, Germany and Nicaragua will compete at Estadio B Air in Mexicali, Mexico, and Colombia, France, Panama and Spain at Rod Carew Stadium in Panama City, Panama, with both groups playing from March 17-20.

Brazil, Britain, Israel and Pakistan will play at MCU Park in New York, the home of the minor league Brooklyn Cyclones, from Sept. 22-25 next year.

Each group will play a modified double elimination, in which a team that wins its first two games would be eliminated by losing its third.

The four qualifiers will join 12 teams with automatic berths: defending champion Dominican Republic, Canada, China, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Puerto Rico, South Korea, Taiwan, United States and Venezuela.

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