Unprecedented meeting between the Dominican Republic and Israel opens playoff in Tokyo 2020

Unprecedented meeting between the Dominican Republic and Israel opens playoff in Tokyo 2020

Baseball teams will meet for the first time in history when they open the Olympic playoff stage, their last chance to win a medal.

The Dominican Republic has never had a professional baseball match against Israel, in any category where the term applies, much less at the national team level. Despite the fact that both countries participated in the World Baseball Classic, there was no opportunity for them to cross, so the confrontation that will take place in the first round of playoffs is something never seen before.

Both teams will play a sudden death match, with which whoever wins will end up facing the United States in the second playoff match, while the other will have finished their Olympic participation, so there is no room to be wrong.

Israel’s baseball team reached the playoffs after defeating Mexico in the first round match of the second phase of the Olympic championship, but later being defeated by South Korea for the second time in the tournament. Israel came seeded in third place from Group B to the second round, but advanced after defeating third place from Group A, Mexico.

The Dominicans, meanwhile, have had a much more complex path to fall to the playoff game, since, despite having the best pitching staff in the tournament, they have been left on the field twice. Like Israel, the Caribbean baseball team lost their game to reigning Olympic champions South Korea after allowing three runs in the last inning of a game that they kept dominating most of the way. The Dominican Republic, ranked 7th in the WBSC, qualified as second in Group A to play its match against the South Koreans.

Both teams have players with the potential to be key during the game, especially some with MLB experience such as Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia for the Israelis, as well as José Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Juan Francisco for the Dominicans.

At statistical levels, neither offense has generated great things, with Israel showing a batting average of .211 in 131 official at-bats and the Dominican Republic .211 in 95. The Dominicans have been able to score the fewest runs in the tournament with only seven, while the Israelites have taken 19 rounds to the plate.

At the level of their pitching staff, the Dominicans have the best ERA of the tournament, despite having faced Japan and South Korea (ranked by the WBSC as first and third in the world, respectively) with 2.77, while Israel has an astronomical 6.82.

An additional advantage that the Israeli team has over the Dominican is their ability to generate speed on the bases. These lead the tournament in stolen bases with five out of six attempts, while the Dominicans have ripped off a pad twice.

The first repechage game promises to be a real challenge for the two baseball teams, where all the effort of the last months will be at stake and one of the teams will end up being eliminated, while the other will have to face a difficult challenge in their next game.

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