Israeli team pulls off upset victory at World Baseball Classic


Israel, which had shocked and stunned the world by winning its first-round group at the World Baseball Classic and then upset Cuba in its first game of the second round, finally took its first loss of the tournament, falling to the Netherlands, 12-2, in Pool E action.

The win left the Netherlands with a record of 1-1 in second- round play behind Pool E leaders Japan who won their opening game. Another win in that round will guarantee a spot in the semifinals in Los Angeles.

The IAB helped recruit the team's players; all but one of them are US -born minor leaguers or former major leaguers with Jewish ancestry. Some found it amusing that Israel's minister for sports told a radio audience that she had no idea of what was going on in South Korea regarding one of the nation's greatest achievements in sports.

According to WBC rules, the mercy rule is enforced once a team holds a lead of 10 or more runs after seven innings.

But it was Gregorius who did much of the damage, the New York Yankees shortstop keying a four-run fourth inning with a three-run blast into the Tokyo Dome's right field bleachers.

The Israel-Japan game will be played at 3 a.m.

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In a soccer-crazed country like Israel, the unlikely success of an Israeli baseball team at the World Baseball Classic hasn't attracted much local attention.

So impressive was Team Israel that one Cuban reporter asked Manager Jerry Weinstein if Team Israel was really "United States II" or "United States III" rather than an Israel team.

Israel is the home team tonight, so the first batter of the game will be former Atlanta Brave Andrelton Simmons, the best defensive shortstop in baseball.

Danielle Barta, Jerusalem director of the Israel Association of Baseball, said the players have become role models.

Two teams in each of the four pools advance to the next round of the tournament.