Team Israel Falls to Netherlands for First Loss in World Baseball Classic

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The Netherlands’ Didi Gregorius (C) runs between the bases following his three-run homer in the top of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool E second round match against Israel in Tokyo on March 13, 2017. (AFP Photo/Kazuhiro Nogi)

Israel’s national baseball team, which has been shocking the world with its success as an underdog in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), Monday suffered its first loss in the international tournament.

Team Israel fell 12-2 to the Netherlands, a squad it had defeated in an earlier stage of the competition. The loss followed Israel’s 4-1 win Sunday over traditional baseball powerhouse Cuba.

The Israeli team—which consists of Jewish Americans who are eligible for Israeli citizenship—came in to the 16-team tournament ranked 41st in the world and with 200-to-1 betting odds to win, but began the WBC with four consecutive wins, including over host nation South Korea.

After emerging from Pool A of the tournament with a perfect 3-0 record and adding the win over Cuba, Israel looked all but assured of moving on to the semifinals of the tournament at Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles. But following the loss to the Netherlands, Israel must now win its game with Japan Wednesday to guarantee a spot in the next round.

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