After its four-game winning streak to start the World Baseball Classic (WBC) shocked the world, Team Israel saw its run in the international tournament come to an end Wednesday with an 8-3 loss to Japan in the crowded Tokyo Dome stadium.
Team Israel’s back-to-back losses this week to Japan and the Netherlands mean that the lovable underdogs will not advance to the tournament’s semifinals in Los Angeles. But Team Israel will continue competing in WBC games in San Diego, against the top two teams from Pool F of the tournament.
Israel’s squad, which consists of Jewish Americans who are eligible for Israeli citizenship, fell 12-2 to the Netherlands Monday for its first loss of the tournament. Earlier in the competition, Israel had defeated the Netherlands as well as baseball powerhouses South Korea, Taiwan and Cuba.
All the while, the Israeli team’s run garnered significant attention from major mainstream media outlets. ESPN ran a feature article dubbing Israel’s the “Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC,” given its current underdog story. The New York Times ran with the headline, “With Mirth and a Mensch, Israel Upsets South Korea in WBC,” referring to the team’s mascot, the popular plush Hanukkah toy Mensch on a Bench.