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After the juvenile national baseball team lost 12-5 to Russia at the European Championships at Hluboka, Czech Republic, on Thursday, it became clear that Russia used an ineligible pitcher and forfeited the game.
According to Zaq Harrison, manager and a coach of the team, rules protect pitchers from throwing an excessive number of innings, which could cause injury, as well as preventing a dominant pitcher from throwing in every game. The Russian player was not eligible to pitch again until Friday.
"It's not the way we wanted to win, but we all have to play by the rules." said Harrison. "We had some nice plays, clutch base hits and pitching. We just had to play a perfect game defensively and we didn't."
The coach said Israel stayed close to the Russians, who were ranked No. 8 in the world last year. "They beat us 12-5," he said. "We played a hell of a game, but we just made a few too many mistakes.
Israel finishes the tournament with a 4-2 record.
Russia (3-2 with a plus-nine run differential) is scheduled to play Poland (4-1, plus-16) on Friday. If Russia beats Poland by five or more runs, the Russians will capture the second place spot, Israel will be third and Poland will fall to fourth place.
If Russia beats Poland by four runs, Russia would finish in second, Poland would be third and Israel fourth. If the Russians lose or win by less than four runs, Poland will be second, Israel third and Russia fourth.
The Czech Republic (5-0) has already clinched a first place finish.
With the odds heavily in favor of coming home with the bronze, the coaching staff was ecstatic.
"The best any Israeli juvenile team has ever done is fifth place," Harrison explained. "No team has ever done this."