Israel’s remarkable run in the World Baseball Classic has now carried into the second round.

After three straight wins to top Pool A in Seoul, the darlings of the tournament opened Pool E at Tokyo Dome Sunday with a 4-1 win over Cuba. A win in either of Israel’s remaining games, against the Netherlands and Japan, could send the underdog team to Dodger Stadium for the semifinals.

The Times of Israel has more on the team:

Nearly all the members on Team Israel are American Jews. By WBC rules, a player may compete for a country if he is eligible for citizenship under its laws. Israel extends the right of automatic citizenship to Jews, their non-Jewish children, grandchildren and the non-Jewish spouses of their children and grandchildren.

For the small Israeli baseball community this has been nothing short of astounding, creating a wave of pride in their disparaged sport. The country has only three baseball-specific fields and only about 1,000 active players who are well accustomed to fielding incredulous questions from native-born Israelis about their funny gear and the difference between a home run and a strikeout.

Israel’s WBC games haven’t been broadcast on the national sports channel and have been mentioned only briefly in the media. Most Israelis likely aren’t even aware they have a national team or understand it is competing against the world’s best in the sport’s most prestigious global event.

For their next feat, Team Israel will part the Red Sea (again).


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