The Senior National Team will play its first game in the Confederation of European Baseball’s (CEB) European Championships B Pool tomorrow in Blagoevgrad, Bulgaria against Team Greece tomorrow, July 1, 2019. This is the first step towards qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Winning the tournament in Blagoevgrad will move Team Israel forward to a playoff against the winner of the second Pool B pool, and the winner of that series will move up to Pool A, to be played in early September. The top five teams from the A Pool will advance to the Olympics qualifiers to be played in Parma, Italy in late September.

Included in the 24-man roster are Blake Gailen, playing AAA with the Dodgers; Corey Baker, a retired AAA player; Zach Penprase, a retired A player, and long-time Independent Ball player; Matt Soren and Jeremy Wolf, retired A players; Jonathan DeMarte, Rob Paller, Mitch Glasser, current Independent players; ex-college D1 players Shlomo Lipetz, Alon Leichman, Dean Pelman, Ryan Willen, Eric Brodkowitz, Simon Rosenbaum, and Dan Rothem; current college players, Danny Grillo, Tal Erel, Asaf Lowengart; and Japanese league player Noam Calisar. Team Israel's head coach is Eric Holtz.

Ophir Katz, Calisar, Erel, Lowengart, Leichman, Lipetz and Rothem started their baseball careers in Israel baseball and have all gained international experience to boost the team.

Peter Kurz, IAB president and general manager of Team Israel, says, “This team represents the best of Israel Baseball, with players who have vast experience both on the professional stage as well as in colleges. With Team Israel’s great 6th place finish in the 2018 WBC tournament, after beating some of the top teams in the world, still fresh in their minds, their motivation is at an all-time high to represent Israel on this international stage and to go all the way to Tokyo in 2020.”

The IAB will also be sending an Under 18 team to a CEB European Championship tournament for the first time. The team will be playing in Sundbyberg, Sweden from July 8 to qualify for a place in next year’s U18 tournament. The team has a strong core of players who have come up through the Israel Baseball Academy.

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