Israel win first two matches at World Baseball Classic

Israel has made a stunning debut in the World Baseball Classic in Seoul with victories over South Korea and Chinese Taipei.


Despite being tournament underdogs, Israel looks almost certain to qualify for the quarter finals in Tokyo next week as a top two finisher, regardless of the result of their final group match on Thursday against the Netherlands.

Israel scored a dramatic 2-1 victory over Korea in their opening match, with Scott Burcham hitting the winning run in the 10th innings.

Against Taipei, Israel wrapped up the game earlier, racing into a 6-0 lead by the end of the third innings thanks to big hitting Ryan Lavarnway and the pitching of Corey Baker. Israel went on to win 15-7.

Astonishingly, Korea and Taipei are ranked third and fourth in the world while Israeli is 41st.

Lavarnway said:, "It means a lot that we're here, that we're competing in a sport on the highest level, and we have the right to be here."

Players need only be eligible for Israeli citizenship to play for the team. Almost all the 29-man squad are American Jews with only three Israeli citizens making the cut.

Eleven of the players have Major League Baseball experience but the top US Jewish starts stayed away due to the major travel commitments.

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