Team Israel exits World Baseball Classic with 5-1 loss to Venezuela


MIAMI (JTA) — They didn’t call it the “Pool of Death” for nothing.

After a 3-1 come-from-behind victory over Nicaragua on Sunday, Israel finished the World Baseball Classic with only one additional run over the next three games. Israel lost 10-0 to both Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic, recording only one hit across the two games, both of which were cut short by the WBC mercy rule.

On Wednesday, Israel’s bats came alive in the final game, with nine hits, including three for Noah Mendlinger and two for Michael Wielansky. But Israel lost 5-1 to Venezuela, which swept the fearsome Pool D where Israel played this week.

Israel scored its lone run with a trio of singles by Mendlinger, Wielansky and Jakob Goldfarb in the bottom of the seventh inning.

“It was nice to have a little action out there, and score one run,” Israel manager Ian Kinsler said after the game. “The guys really battled today and put up some tough at-bats, so it was a lot more exciting for us.”

With the loss, Israel exits the WBC in fourth place in Pool D with a 1-3 record, but will automatically qualify for the 2026 tournament.

Israel switched up its lineup on Wednesday, inserting Goldfarb, an Arizona Diamondbacks minor leaguer, into center field for star Joc Pederson — who helped recruit fellow big leaguers for the team — and Wielansky, a former Houston Astros draft pick, at shortstop.

Jake Fishman, who made his major league debut for the Miami Marlins in 2022, pitched the fourth inning for Israel, becoming the final member of the Israeli roster to appear in the tournament.

Mendlinger and outfielder Alex Dickerson led the team with three hits each in the WBC. Israel’s four total runs were driven in by Garrett Stubbs, Goldfarb and Spencer Horwitz.

Other notable moments for Israel included a gutsy performance by 19-year-old Orthodox prospect Jacob Steinmetz, who struck out three Dominican All-Stars on Tuesday, and earlier that day, a joint ceremony between the Israeli and the Dominican teams to promote friendship between the two countries.

And what was Kinsler’s highlight for this WBC? Two words: Jacob Steinmetz.

“He threw well for a young player, an inexperienced player,” Kinsler said. “To come into this environment and control his emotions, control himself and fill up the strike zone was pretty impressive.”

Kinsler, who had never managed prior to this tournament, said he learned a lot about coaching. He added that Brad Ausmus, who was his manager when Kinsler was a player on the Detroit Tigers and served as a coach for Israel, was a helpful resource as he learned on the job.

Fans traveled from near and far to cheer on Team Israel. Lloyd Kaplan, who visited Miami from Long Island, called it a “once in a lifetime experience.” Israel’s fans may have been far outnumbered by the four Latin countries, but Israel’s players still appreciated the support.

“Just seeing all that is awesome, knowing there will always be people behind me,” Steinmetz said after his start.

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