Israel reach World Baseball Classic finals for first time


Team Israel have reached the World Baseball Classic finals for the first time.

Victories over Great Britain were sandwiched in between a 1-0 semi-final win over Brazil. Israel had struggled to overcome Britain (5-2) last week before a late rally in the seventh innings saw them home. But on Sunday night, the British were never in the game as perfect pitching by Jason Marquis and Josh Zeid saw the British batters strike out time and again.

Israel's batters Blake Gailen, Ryan Lavarnway, Scott Burcham, Zach Borenstein and Cody Decker hit the British pitchers around the park for a runaway 9-1 victory.

Israel have now booked their passage among 15 other nations at the WBC finals which take place in South Korea next March.

Coached by Jerry Weinstein, offensive coach for the Colorado Rockies, the team contains Jewish American minor league and former major league players who have been granted Israeli citizenship.

Israel will face South Korea, Netherlands and Taiwan next year and Weinstein hopes to recruit Jewish Major League players Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers and Ian Kinsler of the Detroit Tigers. But wholesale changes are not predicted.

"I feel very loyal to the group of guys who got us there,” said Weinstein. “Regardless of physical ability, we have an obligation to a lot of the guys on this team that have made the commitment to be with us for this.

"For me as a manager, I'm connected to these guys who helped us get there."

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