By Philissa Cramer
Israel’s improbable quest for an Olympic medal in baseball ended Tuesday after the team featuring several former Major League ballplayers fell in a close match to the Dominican Republic.
Israel led 6-5 going into the ninth inning, but a home run followed by a string of singles propelled the Dominican Republic to a final score of 7-6. The loss means that Israel will leave Tokyo with just one win out of five games, a poor showing in what many had hoped would be a breakout year for Israeli baseball.
The Associated Press had predicted that Team Israel, made up of both Israeli ballplayers and American Jews, would win a bronze medal. Instead, the team lost to Korea and the United States in opening-round games, defeated Mexico in the first round of competition, and then lost to Korea again in round two before facing the Dominican Republic.
Ian Kinsler, the team’s only former All-Star, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency before the Olympics that his goal in playing for Team Israel was to increase the profile of baseball in Israel.
“Medaling for Team Israel would create that buzz,” he said, and “obviously bring more attention to the sport. So it’s exciting to think about all that.”