Israel loses bid to play in World Baseball Classic

(JTA) — Israel failed to advance to the World Baseball Classic, losing 9-7 to Spain in 10 innings in the final game of the qualifying round.

Spain scored twice in the 10th inning of Sunday night’s game in Jupiter, Fla., and advances to the WBC in March, despite having the same number of losses as Israel in the modified double-elimination tournament.

Some 1,500 Jewish fans packed the stands for the game. Shwarma and falafel were sold alongside the traditional hot dogs, and the organ piped out "Hava Nagila" when an Israeli came to bat.

Israel had won its first two games of the tournament, defeating South Africa and Spain behind two home runs in each game by Nate Freiman, a standout first baseman for the San Diego Padres’ Class AA San Antonio Missions. Spain beat France to make it to the final game against Israel.

Most of the Israeli squad’s 28-man roster is comprised of Jewish minor leaguers. Former Major Leaguers Shawn Green and Gabe Kapler also are on the squad, as are three Israeli pitchers — Alon Leichman, Shlomo Lipetz and Dan Rothem.

The Israeli team is managed by former Major League catcher Brad Ausmus.

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