The baseball teams will face each other for the first time in history when they open the Olympic playoffs, their last chance to reach a medal.
The Dominican Republic has never had a professional baseball confrontation 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 meet, so the confrontation that will take place in the first round of the playoffs is something never seen before.
Both teams will play a sudden death game, so whoever wins will end up facing the United States in the second playoff game, while the other will have finished its Olympic participation, so there is no room for mistakes.
Israel’s baseball team reached the playoff after defeating Mexico in the first round of the second round of the Olympic championship, but then being defeated by South Korea for the second time in the tournament. Israel was seeded third in Group B to advance to the second round, but advanced after defeating Group A’s third place team, Mexico.
The Dominicans, meanwhile, have had a much more complex road to fall all the way to the playoffs, as, despite having the best pitching staff in the tournament, they have been left on the field twice. Like Israel, the Caribbean baseball team lost its game against the reigning Olympic champions, South Korea, after allowing three runs in the last inning of a game they dominated most of the way. The Dominican Republic, ranked number seven in the WBSC, qualified as second place in Group A to play their game against the South Koreans.
Both teams have players with the potential to be key players during the game, especially some with MLB experience such as Ian Kinsler and Danny Valencia for the Israelis, as well as Jose Bautista, Melky Cabrera and Juan Francisco for the Dominicans.
Statistically, neither offense has generated much, with Israel boasting a .211 batting average in 131 official innings 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 Israelis have brought 19 runs to the plate.
In terms of pitching staff, the Dominicans have the best ERA in 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 team is its ability to generate speed on the bases. They lead the tournament in stolen bases with five in six attempts, while the Dominicans have swiped a pad twice.
The first playoff game promises to be a real challenge for both 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 face a difficult challenge in their next game.