Team Israel has provided the first pleasant surprise of the 2017 World Baseball Classic, earning a ticket to the second round along with the Netherlands after the Dutch's 6-5 win over Chinese Taipei on Wednesday.
Playing in its first Classic, Israel opened the tournament with a dramatic 2-1 win over host Korea, then poured an offensive outburst on Chinese Taipei in a convincing 15-7 triumph.
Team Israel is largely made up of Jewish-American players, several of whom have played in the Major Leagues. Though not every player is Israeli, any Jew is eligible for an Israeli passport, so Jewish-Americans are permitted to play on the Classic team, per tournament rules.
The players who make up the Israeli ballclub became closely knit when they took a team trip to visit the homeland of their ancestors in January, and that chemistry seems to be translating to their success on the diamond.
Israel will take on the Netherlands on Wednesday at 10 p.m. ET (noon Thursday local time) on MLB Network. The winner will receive the higher seed in Pool E, which will begin play in Tokyo on Saturday..
The World Baseball Classic runs through March 22. In the U.S., games air live exclusively in English on MLB Network and on an authenticated basis via MLBNetwork.com/watch, while ESPN Deportes and WatchESPN provide the exclusive Spanish-language coverage. MLB.TV Premium subscribers in the U.S. have access to watch every tournament game live on any of the streaming service's 400-plus supported devices. The tournament is being distributed internationally across all forms of television, internet, mobile and radio in territories excluding the U.S., Puerto Rico and Japan. Get tickets for games at Marlins Park, Tokyo Dome, Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul, Estadio Charros de Jalisco in Mexico, Petco Park, as well as the Championship Round at Dodger Stadium, while complete coverage -- including schedules, video, stats and gear -- is available at WorldBaseballClassic.com.
Oliver Macklin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.