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March 13, 2017 11:08 am

Team Israel Suffers First Loss at World Baseball Classic, Likely Needs Win Over Japan on Wednesday to Advance to Championship Round

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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Team Israel pitcher Danny Burawa turns and watches a Didi Gregorius three-run homer sail out of the park on Monday. Photo: Screenshot.

Team Israel pitcher Danny Burawa turns and watches a Didi Gregorius three-run homer sail out of the park on Monday. Photo: Screenshot.

Team Israel, the Cinderella story of the 2017 World Baseball Classic so far, suffered its first loss of the tournament on Monday, falling 12-2 to the Netherlands at the Tokyo Dome.

In its third and final second round game on Wednesday, Israel will square off against heavily-favored Japan.

A victory for Israel will likely be necessary for it to move on to the championship round in Los Angeles on March 20-22.

Israel’s loss to the Netherlands came a day after it upset Cuba 4-1. The team swept its first round matches last week against Korea, Chinese Taipei and the Netherlands at the Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul.

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Only two of the players on Israel’s roster are citizens of the Jewish state. World Baseball Classic rules allow players to compete for any countries in which they qualify for citizenship. This enables Israel to draw on the talent of non-native Jewish athletes who are eligible for Israeli citizenship under the Law of Return.

In an interview with The Algemeiner in January, Team Israel pitcher Josh Zeid — who played in the Major Leagues for the Houston Astros in 2013 and 2014 — said the squad was setting its sights high for the quadrennial tournament.

“Our goal is to win all our games,” Zeid stated. “We hope Israelis notice the effort we’re giving and that they’re proud of us.”

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