Israeli baseball team improves to 3-0 in Olympic qualifiers
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Israeli baseball team improves to 3-0 in Olympic qualifiers

National squad defeats Italy 8-2; a win in either of its next two games will likely secure berth in 2020 Tokyo Games

Illustrative: Israel players line up for the national anthem prior to the World Baseball Classic Pool E Game Three between Netherlands and Israel at the Tokyo Dome on March 13, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan (Matt Roberts/Getty Images/JTA)
Illustrative: Israel players line up for the national anthem prior to the World Baseball Classic Pool E Game Three between Netherlands and Israel at the Tokyo Dome on March 13, 2017 in Tokyo, Japan (Matt Roberts/Getty Images/JTA)

Israel’s national baseball team on Friday defeated Italy in the Olympic qualification tournament, improving its record in the competition to three wins and zero losses.

Israel in Italy defeated the host team 8-2.

The score was tied 2-2 into the eighth inning, when Israel scored six runs to secure the lead. Pitcher Jonathan DeMarte held off the Italians for the last two innings for the win, according to the team’s website.

The squad in the coming days will face the Czech Republic and South Africa in the Europe/Africa qualifier. A win in either outing would likely secure the team’s place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics for its first showing in the games.

Before the game against Italy, Israel defeated Spain and the Netherlands.

Team Israel advanced to the current Olympic qualifier in Italy after beating France in the European Championship on September 13. Overall, the white and blue crew finished fourth in the competition.

The Israeli team, which is packed with Jewish-American college players and some pros, had the country’s best showing in the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, surprising many by making the main tournament, where it finished sixth.

While the World Baseball Classic only requires that players be eligible for citizenship of the country they represent, for Olympic qualifying tournaments and for the actual Olympics players must be citizens of the country they represent. The majority of the national team players are Jewish Americans who received citizenship in order to play or Israelis who live in the United States. Among the former pros on the squad are Danny Valencia, 34, and Jeremy Wolf, 25.

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