Israel’s national baseball team defeated The Netherlands 4-2 in its final game of the first round of the World Baseball Classic, securing a 3-0 sweep in the group stage.
Although Israel’s spot in the second round of the tournament was already guaranteed Wednesday as a result of the Dutch team’s defeat of Taiwan, Thursday’s win helped the Israeli squad keep alive its improbable perfect record to start the tournament.
After going up 3-0 in the bottom of the first inning, Israel was able to fend off the Dutch with stellar pitching, giving up only one run, five hits and five walks over the course of nine innings.
Israel will now face either Japan or the winner of the Cuba versus Australia game on Thursday in the second round, which will take place in Tokyo.
Ranked only 38 in the world, the Israeli team has become the tournament’s unlikely darlings, surprising many by even making it this far.
Nearly all the members on Team Israel are American Jews. By WBC rules, a player may compete for a country if he is eligible for citizenship under its laws. Israel extends the right of automatic citizenship to Jews and their non-Jewish family members.
After beating the hometown favorite South Korea in a thrilling 2-1 extra innings game on Monday, the Israeli squad defeated Taiwan in a 15-7 drubbing on Tuesday.
Agencies contributed to this report.