Israel cements place in quarter-finals at World Baseball Classic

Israel's baseball team has become the darlings of the US media after unexpectedly reaching the quarter-finals of the World Baseball Classic in Korea.


Tipped for an early exit, Israel came top of its group, by beating the Netherlands 4-2 to complete a clean sweep in the round robin stage and progress to the quarter finals.

While 11 of Israel's squad have Major League Baseball experience, it is the team mascot - Mensch on a Bench - who has attracted most of the media attention.

Like another recent famous sportsman on a bench, Sutton reserve goalkeeper Wayne Shaw, Mensch is distinctly overweight but from eating latkes rather than pies.

Mensch on a Bench is the hero of Neal Hoffman's children's book of the same name about Hanukah. The US media has focused on Mensch power and something akin to a Hanukah miracle as Israel, ranked 41st in the world has beaten Korea, Taipei and the Netherlands ranked third, fourth and ninth respectively.

But a far bigger miracle will be required in the quarter finals in Tokyo when Israel will likely come up against Japan - the world's number one ranked team.    

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