Team Israel defeated Korea in the first game of the World Baseball Classic.
Israel topped Korea 2-1 in the 10th inning on Monday in Seoul. Team Israel had 8 hits to Korea’s 7 in the hard-fought game.
The Israeli team is scheduled to play the team from Chinese Taipei later on Monday, and the Netherlands on Wednesday.
This is the first year that the Israeli team has qualified for the quadrennial baseball tournament, in which 16 countries are represented. In 2012, Israel’s inaugural WBC team narrowly missed making the tournament.
The game marks the first time that American Jewish baseball players, including several current and former Major League Baseball players, are representing Israel in a world championship. World Baseball Classic rules state that players who are eligible for citizenship of a country may play on that country’s team.
Gabe Cramer of Santa Rosa — a right-handed relief pitcher who is a minor leaguer for the Kansas City Royals and a former star for Stanford University — is on Team Israel. “Every athlete dreams of playing for the USA,” he told J. “But I think it’s even cooler to play for Team Israel and have the name Israel across your chest.”
Israel is the only participant in this year’s tournament not currently among the top 20 in the world rankings. Israel is ranked 41st in the world.
The game was not broadcast on any of Israel’s major television channels or sports channels.
Ten current and former Jewish major leaguers representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic visited Israel in December.
In an article published on Sunday, ESPN described the Israeli team as “the Jamaican bobsled team of the WBC.”