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Underdog Israeli baseball team sweeps 1st round of world tournament

Players head to Tokyo for Round 2 where they will face either Japan or Cuba Saturday night.


March 9, 2017 | Latest Photo Prev Next
Infielder Ike Davis of Israel flies out in the bottom of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.Infielder Ike Davis of Israel flies out in the bottom of the fourth inning during the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea.Photo: Jung Yeon-Je / AFP/Getty Images
March 9, 2017 | Latest Photo

The third time is the charm for the Israeli baseball team. After beating Korea in extra innings and shocking Chinese Taipei earlier in the week, the upstarts from the Mediterranean country (more known for their basketball prowess) swept the opening round of the World Baseball Classic in Seoul.

After knocking out 3 runs early in the game, the Netherlands were left scrambling, and could never catch up. Israel's DH Ike Davis (above) continued his hot hitting. Davis, batting .500 for the tournament, was 1-4, including a RBI and run scored.

The game ended, shortly after midnight Eastern Time, with a final score of 4-2. The win, Israel's third in a row since the tournament began, catapulted the upstart Israel into first place in their section, Pool A.

Infielder Scott Burcham (R) of Israel throws to the first base to make a double play against the Netherlands during the 8th inning of their first round game of the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul on March 9, 2017. Israel's Scott Burcham (right) throws to first base to make a double play against the Netherlands. (Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images)

Their journey from underdog to top-of-the-class has captivated the world. Not only are Israeli expats watching from points beyond but sports fans across the globe have jumped on the bandwagon, following the team that ESPN has dubbed "essentially the Mighty Ducks, Hickory High and the Jamaican bobsled team all rolled into one.”

The remarkable wins brings to mind the 1977 European Basketball Championship in which the virtually unknown team from Israel went on to defeat the mighty Russians and win the entire tournament.

As winners of this round, the club will receive a $300,000 prize. "Most of the money will go towards developing fields in Israel," Peter Kurz, the president of the Israel Association of Baseball, told From The Grapevine.

Israel players celebrate their 2-4 win after the World Baseball Classic Pool A Game Five between Netherlands and Israel at Gocheok Sky Dome on March 9, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. Israeli players celebrate their 2-4 win over the Netherlands. (Photo: Chung Sung-Jun/AFP/Getty Images)

The team will now travel to Tokyo for the next round where they will face either Japan or Cuba on 10 p.m. (ET) Saturday. They will play a total of three games in the next round, including a re-match with the Netherlands on Monday.

The final round of the tournament will move to American soil where the last games will take place at Dodgers Stadium in Los Angeles. The championship game will take place on March 22.

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