(JTA) – Israel advanced in the World Baseball Classic with a victory over the Netherlands.
Israel beat the Netherlands on Thursday by a score of 4-2 to finish first in its pool in the first round of the quadrennial baseball tournament, in which 16 countries are represented.
The Netherlands also will advance after finishing the first round with a 2-1 record. The other teams in the pool, South Korea and Chinese Taipei, were eliminated.
Two teams in each of the four pools advance to the next round. The second round will be played in Tokyo beginning on Saturday.
Israel defeated South Korea in its first game ever in the World Baseball Classic in 10 innings by a score of 2-1. It went on to defeat Chinese Taipei by a score of 15-7. The team appeared on the field for the national anthem with matching blue kippot.
This is the first year that the Israeli team has qualified for tournament. 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. Ten current and former Jewish major leaguers representing Israel in the World Baseball Classic visited Israel in December in preparation to represent the country.