Israel finally falls 'mercilessly' in Tokyo

Japan once again advances to the championship round in Los Angeles, and remains the only team in tournament history to make it to the semifinals in every WBC. The team is made up primarily of Jewish-Americans, with only two players who are actually Israeli citizens.

Despite the decisive loss, Israel's World Baseball Classic debut was a success since few expected it to advance past the first round. WBC rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on its team. Yamada hit a solo homer in the first inning to give Japan the early lead, but it was a back-and-forth game.

Japan 8, Israel 3 This was a nail-biter until it very suddenly wasn't.

"We are a great hitting team and we believe in ourselves and that's what you saw tonight - 15 hits", Balentien said.

"We lost to Israel in the first round so we wanted to make sure we made no mistakes in today's game with pitching, offense and defense", Netherlands Manager Hensley Meulens said.

We're really getting down to it in the World Baseball Classic. Starting pitcher Jason Marquis, a 38-year-old NY native with a 15-year major league career that came to a halt in 2015, lasted five and two-thirds innings and gave up just one run. (The other will play the Diamondbacks at Talking Stick.) Those games are to keep the two teams in practice while the other two finalists are determined in San Diego. Manager Jerry Weinstein told reporters before the game that - concerned about his team's ability to play from behind - he hoped Zeid could shut down the bats long enough for Israel to score first. That home run is the definition of BELTED. Facing two-time WBC champions Japan, who were undefeated and ranked 1st coming into the tournament, Israel fell 8-3. That has allowed Team Italy to fill out its roster with Americans and is the reason that Mets pitcher Seth Lugo - who grew up in Louisiana and speaks no Spanish - can play on Team Puerto Rico. Team Israel should be represented by people who associate with the culture and heritage of Israel, instead of people who just have similar beliefs to a lot of the people in Israel. "We came through as a team rather than as individual players".

Then it was on to Tokyo, where, on Sunday, the minor miracle continued as Israel downed Cuba, 4-1, in the opening game of the second round.

Team Israel's unlikely 2017 journey began two weeks ago when players gathered in Arizona - the desert, so to speak - for workouts. Ryan Lavarnway finished with two RBIs and Ike Davis also drove in a run. But none of them accomplished what Nippon Professional Baseball star Wladimir Balentien did.

  • Julie Sanders