Cuba Loses 4-1 to Upstart Israel in WBC

Lavarnway celebrates with his teammates after hitting a two run homer against Taiwans pitcher Chen Kuan Yu during their first round game of the World Baseball Classic at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul South Korea

Team Israel is ranked 41st in the world.

Catcher Ryan Lavarnway, awarded MVP for Pool A last week, dug Israel out from behind the 1-0 deficit in the fourth after driving Ike Davis home with an RBI double.

Two teams in each of the four pools advance to the next round of the tournament.

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Israel continued its Cinderella drive in its first scrap at the World Baseball Classic, by starting off the second round on Sunday with a bang and beating Cuba 4-1. It went on to defeat Chinese Taipei by a score of 15-7. The second round will be played in Tokyo beginning on Saturday. The team appeared on the field for the national anthem with matching blue kippot.

Three Israeli relievers, Zack Thorton, the winning pitcher, Brad Goldberg and Josh Zeid, teamed to shut down the Cuban offense on one hit over the last 3.1 innings. Unlike the rest of the teams in the Classic, who can use their national players in the different leagues for the tournament, the Castro government prohibits players who no longer live on the island to represent Cuba in worldwide events.

Team Netherlands, which includes major league stars Xander Bogaerts, the Red Sox shortstop; Didi Gregorious, the Yankees shortstop; Jonathan Schoop, the Orioles second baseman; and Jurickson Profar, the Rangers infielder, presented a formidable challenge to Israel, which doesn't have a current major leaguer on its roster. By WBC rules, a player may compete for a country if he is eligible for citizenship under its laws.

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