Israel kept its strong start to the World Baseball Classic going on Tuesday, following up its upset win over South Korea by blowing out Chinese Taipei.
Israel got out of the box fast with four runs in the first inning and never let the foot off the pedal, picking up 20 hits in the game and winning 15-7. Included in the onslaught were home runs from catcher Ryan Lavarnway and first baseman Nate Freiman, who both have minor league baseball experience in the United States.
Israeli manager Jerry Weinstein said after the game that this is the type of offense he expected from the squad.
“They are who I thought they were,” Weinstein said. “This is a very competitive group, and offensively, that’s who we are today.”
The win puts Israel, playing in its first World Baseball Classic, in good position to be one of the two teams that will advance out of its pool.
If Israel beats the Netherlands in its next game (which will air in the United States on Wednesday night), it will be the top team out of the pool. Because the Netherlands beat South Korea on Tuesday, however, Israel is in good position to qualify even if it falls in its next game.
Israel has also cemented its place in the next World Baseball Classic with its strong start. The top three seeds from each pool, which Israel has already clinched, are granted entries to the 2021 tournament.
The Israeli team is comprised of mostly American Jews who are able to play due to a tournament rule that players must only be eligible for citizenship in a country to represent it. Israel’s Law of Return gives every Jew the right to immigrate to Israel and obtain citizenship.
Ike Davis, who traveled to Israel for the first time earlier this year, said that he hopes the team’s early success will get kids playing baseball in Israel.
“You know, for us, or for me, this is a huge deal to help possibly maybe kick‑start baseball in Israel,” said Davis, currently a first basemen for the Los Angeles Dodgers. “It’s not as big as we’d like, and I think we can maybe change that with what we’re doing.”
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