FInal Game Group

For the first time since 1974, Israel will be sending a team sport to the Olympic Games – this time it’s baseball. Twenty four Israeli baseball players will march in the opening ceremony of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics next year, representing a sport that is slowly emerging in Israel but will be boosted by the tremendous achievement of its senior national team. The Israel Baseball team will be the first team sport to represent Israel at the Olympic games since 1976, when the Israel National Soccer team competed in the Montreal Summer Olympics. Israel will be one of six teams to play in the baseball competition at the Olympics.

The team won its final and deciding game of the Olympic qualifiers, beating South Africa, the African representative in the Europe/Africa qualifiers for the Olympic Games, 11-1 in eight innings. Israel had reached the qualifiers by coming fourth at the European Championships held in Germany the previous week. The top five teams went through to the qualifiers, held in Parma and Bologna, Italy. Israel started the qualifiers by beating three of the teams it lost to in Germany – Spain, Italy, and European champions Netherlands. It hit a small bump in the road when in its penultimate game, Israel lost to Czech Republic 7-4. But with a tournament leading record of 3-1, the win against South Africa assured Israel of the place in the Olympics.Final Game Jump

Israel put on a stellar performance. On the mound, Joey Wagman held the South Africans to six scoreless innings, allowing one run in the seventh. It was Wagman’s only run allowed in both the Qualifiers and European Championships the week before, where he was named pitcher with the lowest ERA of 0 over 10.2 innings.

Israel came alive in the top of the second inning when catcher Nick Rickles scored on a sacrifice fly by OF Simon Rosenbaum. With short stop Ty Kelly on third, DH Benjamin Wanger on second and third baseman Zach Penprase on first after being hit by a pitch, second baseman Mitch Glasser walked for another RBI. A single from OF Blake Gailen allowed Wanger and Penprase to score. Israel was up 4-0.

In the top of the third, a double from Wanger brought Rickles home, and a sacrifice fly from Rosenbaum added another run by Kelly for a 6-0 lead.

Israel’s defense was virtually impenetrable, and South Africa only managed to score one run in the bottom of the seventh inning. In the top of the eighth, Israel piled on four more runs, three from a homer by Dany Valencia. Shlomo Lipetz came in to close the game, and with no runs scoring, the game ended, giving Israel the golden ticket to Tokyo 2020.

“This is the ultimate dream come true,” said Peter Kurz, Israel Association of Baseball President and General Manager of Team Israel. “It was almost too impossible to imagine but with the astounding performances of a dedicated team that always believed in itself. Even when we were beaten last night by Czech Republic, it didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits because we knew we were capable of achieving this goal.”

Italy Win

Israel emerged as the dominant team in the Olympic Games qualifiers in Italy, when it dominated the hosts in an 8-2 game, to go 3-0, ahead of the rest of the other five teams.

Until the seventh inning, it was anyone’s game. For the first three innings it was a pitchers’ duel between Israel’s Gabe Cramer and Italy’s Luis Lugo, with neither side managing to score. In the top of the fourth inning, DH Danny Valencia walked, and catcher Nick Rickles homered to deep left field, putting two runs on the board. In the bottom of the fifth, with Zack Weiss on the mound for Israel, the Italians got two walks, and a double from Chris Colabello brought in Sebastiano Poma and Andrew Maggi to tie the game.

The score remined tied until the top of the eighth inning, when Israel broke out and scored six runs. First baseman Benjamin Wanger was hit by a pitch, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Simon Rosenbaum. Third baseman Zach Penprase walked, and Wanger reached third on a wild pitch. Mitch Glasser bunted and reached on an error and Wanger scored. With two outs, Valencia reached on an error, loading the bases. Rickles singled to the left side and Glasser and Wanger scored. OF Rob Paller was hit by a pitch and the bases were again loaded with Valencia on third and Rickles on second. Short stop Ty Kelly singled to right field and Valencia scored. Wanger singled to the left for 2 RBIs, as Rickles and Paller scored. The inning ended with Israel quickly in a comfortable lead.Rickles Valencia

Jonathan DeMarte on the mound for Israel retired the Italians in order in the bottom of the eight, and repeated the feat in the bottom of the ninth for the win.

Israel faces Czech Republic next and South Africa on Sunday. A fourth win would virtually ensure Israel a historic place in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo. Only the top team moves into the Olympics line up automatically. The second place team will play in a lucky losers’ tournament in March 2020.

“We’ve done great things over the past three days, and the win against the strong Italian team was the icing on the cake so far,” says Team Israel General Manager and Israel Association of Baseball President Peter Kurz. “We beat the three teams that beat us in last week’s European Championships. But we still have work to do and nothing is certain in baseball. So, we’re still taking it one game at a time and focusing our energies on keeping ahead of our competitors.”

Netherlands Win

Team Israel caused a major upset on the second day of the Olympic Games Qualifiers at the Nino Cavalli Stadium in Parma, Italy on September 19, by beating Netherlands 8-1. The Dutch had only days earlier won the European Championships, where Israel took fourth place, and lost to them in the round robin phase of the tournament in Germany. After a decisive 8-1 win against the favorites, Israel went 2-0 in the qualifiers.

The Dutch’s only run came in the top of the second inning as a result of two doubles, against Israeli pitcher Jon Moscot. He pitched four innings and only gave up the one run. He was relieved by Jeremy Bleich who got the win, pitching two innings and allowing no hits.

Israel’s bats came alive early in the game, when DH Danny Valencia walked, and with two outs and two strikes against him, catcher Nick Rickles homered to deep left field for 2 RBIs.

Israel continued its domination with a memorable second inning. With OF Rob Paller and first baseman Benjamin Wanger both drawing walks, OF Simon Rosenbaum’s sacrifice bunt moved them up and a single from third baseman Zach Penprase loaded the bases. Second baseman Mitch Glasser capitalized with a 3 RBI double. OF Blake Gailen walked, and Valencia doubled to left center. Glasser scored and Gailen was out at home. Israel added four runs in that decisive inning.

In the bottom of the fifth, Gailen reached on an error, and Valencia singled to center field, Gailen to second. Rickles added another single, and loaded the bases. A single to center field from Paller added one more run to Israel’s score line to put the team ahead 7-1. Paller started the bottom of the eighth inning with a double to right center. Wanger flied out to center, and Paller advanced. A sac-fly to right field from Penprase brought Paller home for Israel’s last run of the night.

The win against Netherlands casts a spotlight on Israel as the team to beat. “Just like we were considered underdogs in the World Baseball Classic two years ago,” notes Peter Kurz, General Manager and Israel Association of Baseball President, “we came into this tournament after having had to qualify for the European Championships, and placing fourth there, so expectations weren’t high. After two impressive wins, we now have to continue the momentum in the next three games against another three tough competitors – Italy, Czech Republic and South Africa. Every team that made it to the qualifiers is a challenge, but I am confident that we have to tenacity and talent to come through and make it all the way to Tokyo.”

Joey Wagman Qualifiers

Joey Wagman pitched a complete game shut out to help take down Spain in Team Israel’s first game of the World Baseball and Softball Confederation Olympics Qualifiers 3-0 in Bologna, Italy. Danny Valencia dominated the offense, batting in all three runs, including a first inning 2 RBI home run.

With the loss against Spain in the last game of the European Championships only days ago still fresh, Israel came out determined to start strong against the team that left Israel in third place in Europe. And they did. In the top of the first inning, after out-fielder Blake Gailen was walked, DH Valencia stepped up and crushed a homer deep into left field, immediately putting Israel ahead by two runs.

Wagman followed up on Israel’s strong offensive start by retiring Spain in order in the bottom of the first. He maintained the pressure on the Spaniards throughout the game, not giving them a foothold, and allowing only three hits in the game.

In the top of the fifth inning, Zach Penprase singled to deep center field and advanced to second on a single from Mitch Glasser. Gailen singled to center field, loading the bases. A sacrifice fly to right field from Valencia added another RBI as Penprase scored Israel’s third run.Joey Wagman Qualifiers

“I just pitched my game,” said Wagman in a post-game interview. “(Nick) Rickles called a great game behind home plate. We were on the same page all night. It’s a lot easier for me when I can trust him and trust the defense.” Wagman also won the award for the pitcher with the best earned run average in the European Championships last week, after pitching 10.2 innings with an impressive zero ERA.

“Everything was great tonight,” said Valencia. “It was important to start well, and we did.” I helped the team with the RBIs, but the credit goes to Wagman who was amazing on the mound.”

“This was a fantastic start,” says Peter Kurz, Team Israel General Manager and Israel Association of Baseball President. “We have every intention of competing for every run over every inning of the rest of the games against Netherlands, Czech Republic, Italy and South Africa. Our goal is no less than winning this tournament and representing the State of Israel in the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.”

Staff Collage SM

Team Israel has come a long way in the 2019 European Championships and is on the way to the Olympics Games Qualifiers in Italy. Behind this phenomenal team of talented and dedicated players is another, lesser known team that supports the players and plays a significant role. Meet the team behind Team Israel.  

PeterKurz 2016

PETER KURZ: Team Israel General Manager and President of the Israel ssociation of Baseball (IAB)

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Dealing with my nerves and controlling my emotions

Best moment so far: Winning the B Pool of the European Championships in Bulgaria in July.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelancer in export of Israeli companies

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Winner of the A Pool of the European Championships, and 5,000 kids playing ball on 10 fields in Israel.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The best is yet to come...

Eric

ERIC HOLTZ: Head Coach

Time with Team Israel: 2-1/2 years

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Managing the pitching/innings for all of the games played

Best moment so far: Advancing to Italy and making it to the qualifiers

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I own and operate a Baseball facility in New York where we train young athletes from ages 5 to 75 and currently play on several teams as well

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Hopefully we continue to do well and the success that we’ve had will inspire young athletes to join this team five years from now

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every time I get to suit up in uniform representing Israel

Nate

NATE MULBERG: Assistant Coach

Responsibilities include coaching first base, throwing batting practice in-game management, and helping to create a positive environment throughout the experience for everyone.

Time with Team Israel: This is my first tournament with Team Israel.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: At first, I thought my biggest challenge was going to be feeling comfortable with a new team and getting to know everyone, but I soon realized Team Israel is comprised of a special group of staff members, coaches and players. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel part of the Team Israel family immediately. I am so thankful for that! The biggest difficulty I have faced has been coping with the massive time difference and jet-lag.

Best moment so far: Our 4-2 win vs. Germany, especially when Ty Kelly hit his game-tying, 2-out RBI single in the 8th inning and when Jon DeMarte pitched out of a 9th-inning, 0-out, man-on-third-base jam to get our Germany game into extra innings.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel:  When I am not coaching Team Israel, I am an Assistant Baseball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years, I see Team Israel as a worldwide baseball power, ranked in the Top 10 worldwide.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Without question, my favorite part of the tournament day has been spending time at the hotel with all of the amazing staff members and players on Team Israel. Getting to know each player and person has been so interesting, as we have so many people involved with Team Israel from different walks of life.

Richard

RICHARD KANIA: Bench Coach

Responsibilities include hitting fungo, doing pitching chart whatever is needed.

Time with team Israel: I´ve been with Israeli baseball since 2008. Since 2010 with the SNT. Tournaments: B pool European Championships  in 2010 (Israel) 1. WBC Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. C Pool European Championship in Slovenia, B Pool Championships in Vienna and Beograd. B Pool Championship in Blagoevgrad, Super Finale in Utena.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Game against the Czech Team, since I was the Czech SNT coach prior to coming to Israel (2007)

Best moment so far: Winning game against Germany and France  and meeting the great players.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I teach at a high school (English and Physical Training) + coaching a youth team in Prague

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: With team like this we can be anywhere :-), but we need to use this to grow baseball in Israel and to educate players and coaches there.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Seeing the team pull together and work as one. As Eric says: No egos, just a team!

Kaz

KAZUMASA (KAZ) KIBE: Bench Coach

Responsbilities include batting pitcher, trainer, sports massage

Time with team Israel:The first time coaching the team.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Team mood.

Best moment so far: Simon Rosenbaum's home run in the fianl game of the B Pool against Russia.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: A baseball coach in Israel

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Blake Gailen batting

Andrew

ANDREW LORRAINE: Pitching Coach

Time with team Israel: Since the start...2012 WBC qualifiers ..2016/17 WBC

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Crash course with so many new faces 

Best moment so far: Just being with team Israel and wearing the Star of David on the baseball field 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: A force in not just European baseball but a competitive team worldwide 

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The victory vs Germany in the 10th inning and the qualifying win vs France to go to Italy

Alex

ALEX JACOBS: Advance Scout/Pseudo Bench Coach

Time with team Israel: Since 2012. I was assisting with the WBC in 2012 as well as 2017. This is my first opportunity to contribute to Israel Baseball.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: These opponents are tough! Compiling information about our opponents to put together game strategy with our staff.

Best moment so far: There never is just one moment. Just being together as a group and playing the game. Winning is always nice, but being a part of a group that has the same goals and intentions is very special.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I work as a Special Assignment Scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Team Israel will soon be competing for a spot in the Premier 12 within the next decade.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: A large majority of my day is spent in the concierge lounge watching video on our opponents and collaborating with staff on a game plan. When I can, I will explore these cities, but most of the time is preparing for our next opponent.

Dan

DAN ROOTENBERG: Team Physical Therapist

Time with team Israel:  Have been with team Israel since 2012 when the first WBC team was formed.  Prior to that was first player signed in the 2007 when pro baseball was started in the Israel Baseball League 

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Keeping our talented athletes on the field and healthy so they can perform at their highest levels thus giving the team the best chance to win.   

Best moment so far: The highlight of the tournament for me by far was beating on consecutive days the German team and Great Britain which certainly would have evoked disbelief just a few years ago (as written by D. Grossman in the JPost.)   

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am the CEO of SPEAR Physical Therapy.  We have 18 locations in New York and help over 350,000 people become better versions of themselves each year. 

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years team Israel will have some 2nd generation players.  It will be a balanced mixed of native born Israeli athletes and Jews who have made Aliyah and will be getting ready for another Olympic qualifier  

Highlight of the tournament day for you: My favorite moment of each game is the Hatikva. It means we all put in our prep work to get to that point and it reminds me of what unites everyone on the team. It also reminds me of my father Jay who was born in Palestine in 1936. My dad was at the intersection of baseball and Israel in my life, and my contribution is in his memory.  

Sydni

SYDNI HOLTZ: Team Nurse, Assistant Trainer

Time with team Israel: I have been involved with Team Israel for 3 years now. I started with the B Pool Tournament in Serbia back in 2017 and have been with them this whole summer in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Germany.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Trying to help keep the players feeling their best. We play a bunch of games in a short time frame so it’s imperative we make sure everyone is taken care of and injury free.

Best moment so far: Winning the quarter-final game against France. Winning guaranteed us a spot in Italy next week; we are one step closer to the Olympics!

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. I have played and been around this sport for as long as I can remember, and I previously attended New York University where I was a pitcher for the softball team. Many of my friendships, favorite memories, and greatest life lessons have come from growing up around baseball.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see Team Israel continuing to grow and build. My hope is that the successes of our team will encourage the younger players in Israel to continue to work hard and improve so that they will one day be representing their country on this team.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The highlight of game days for me is watching the guys stand on the line for the playing of Hatikvah. It is awesome seeing so many guys from different backgrounds coming together for one common goal: to represent Israel.

Jordy

JORDY ALTER: IAB Vice President, Team Gopher (self defined)

Time with team Israel: Lost count

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Finding an open laudromat in the various towns and cities we play in.

Best moment so far: Beating Team Germany on their home soil.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Tooth schlepper (AKA dentist)

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing in Bet Shemesh on our new field

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every moment

Yaron

YARON EREL: IAB treasurer and special assistant to the general manager

Responsibilties include booking hotels, plane tickets, making sure there’s money for all expenses

Time with team Israel: 13 years, about 20 different tournaments from u12 and up.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Making sure everyone gets where they need to be on time, safe and happy, and with their suitcases.

Best moment so far: Win against Russia in the B Pool of the European Championships in July, with a tie game, Tal (Erel) at bat, kept fouling the balls until Russia’s pitcher threw 2 wild pitches and we scored our 4th and 5th run to win the game.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Senior relationship manager at Leumi Private banking, head of Ultra High Net worth customer team.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing on highest level tournaments with many Israeli born players in the roster.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The win against Germany in extra inning and Tal Erel's single RBI against Great Britain with 2 strikes and 2 outs.

Margo

MARGO SUGARMAN: Team Israel Media Liaison, Team Photographer, (sometimes team mom) and Secretary General of the IAB

Time with Team Israel: My time with the senior team began at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in 2016. I have also been manager of many national youth teams since 2011.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Editing the hundreds of photos I’ve shot during that day's game, writing a game summary, and getting all this material to our colleagues in the press before I miss the deadline in this crazy 24/7 news world. That’s in addition to posting the game results all our social media pages, trying to respond all the many comments from our fans, and uploading all the photos to our Facebook page before the players start asking for them. And repeating it all againt the next day!

Best moment so far: Watching the team win against Germany in 10th inning tie breaker at the end of the most stressful game I’ve ever seen. Also, seeing Nick Rickles, Rob Paller and Danny Valencia all hit home runs in the quarter-final win against France.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelance business communications consultant.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see the players who today are representing Israel in our Under 16 and 18 teams, and doing an amazing job, taking their places in the Senior National Team and proving what a great program we’ve built over the years to develop our local Israeli talent.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Having a laugh with the players.

 

 

 

PETER KURZ: Team Israel General Manager and President of the Israel ssociation of Baseball (IAB)

Time with Team Israel: 20 years, countless tournaments...over 15

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Dealing with my nerves and controlling my emotions

Best moment so far: Winning the B Pool of the European Championships in Bulgaria in July.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelancer in export of Israeli companies

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Winner of the A Pool of the European Championships, and 5,000 kids playing ball on 10 fields in Israel.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The best is yet to come...

  PeterKurz 2016

ERIC HOLTZ: Head Coach

Time with Team Israel: 2-1/2 years  

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Managing the pitching/innings for all of the games played

Best moment so far: Advancing to Italy and making it to the qualifiers 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I own and operate a Baseball facility in New York where we train young athletes from ages 5 to 75 and currently play on several teams as well

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Hopefully we continue to do well and the success that we’ve had will inspire young athletes to join this team five years from now

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every time I get to suit up in uniform representing Israel

  Eric

NATE MULBERG: Assistant Coach.

Responsibilities include coaching first base, throwing batting practice in-game management, and helping to create a positive environment throughout the experience for everyone.

Time with Team Israel: This is my first tournament with Team Israel.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: At first, I thought my biggest challenge was going to be feeling comfortable with a new team and getting to know everyone, but I soon realized Team Israel is comprised of a special group of staff members, coaches and players. Everyone welcomed me and made me feel part of the Team Israel family immediately. I am so thankful for that! The biggest difficulty I have faced has been coping with the massive time difference and jet-lag.

Best moment so far: Our 4-2 win vs. Germany, especially when Ty Kelly hit his game-tying, 2-out RBI single in the 8th inning and when Jon DeMarte pitched out of a 9th-inning, 0-out, man-on-third-base jam to get our Germany game into extra innings.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel:  When I am not coaching Team Israel, I am an Assistant Baseball Coach/Recruiting Coordinator at the University of Richmond in Richmond, Virginia.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years, I see Team Israel as a worldwide baseball power, ranked in the Top 10 worldwide.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Without question, my favorite part of the tournament day has been spending time at the hotel with all of the amazing staff members and players on Team Israel. Getting to know each player and person has been so interesting, as we have so many people involved with Team Israel from different walks of life.

  Nate

RICHARD KANIA: Bench Coach

Responsibilities include hitting fungo, doing pitching chart whatever is needed.

Time with team Israel: I´ve been with Israeli baseball since 2008. Since 2010 with the SNT. Tournaments: B pool European Championships  in 2010 (Israel) 1. WBC Qualifier in Jupiter, Florida. C Pool European Championship in Slovenia, B Pool Championships in Vienna and Beograd. B Pool Championship in Blagoevgrad, Super Finale in Utena.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Game against the Czech Team, since I was the Czech SNT coach prior to coming to Israel (2007)

Best moment so far: Winning game against Germany and France  and meeting the great players.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I teach at a high school (English and Physical Training) + coaching a youth team in Prague

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: With team like this we can be anywhere :-), but we need to use this to grow baseball in Israel and to educate players and coaches there.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Seeing the team pull together and work as one. As Eric says: No egos, just a team!

  Richard

KAZUMASA (KAZ) KIBE: Bench Coach

Responsbilities include batting pitcher, trainer, sports massage

Time with team Israel:The first time coaching the team.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Team mood.

Best moment so far: Simon Rosenbaum's home run in the fianl game of the B Pool against Russia.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: A baseball coach in Israel

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Blake Gailen batting

  Kaz
 ANDREW LORRAINE: Pitching Coach

Time with team Israel: Since the start ...2012 WBC qualifiers ..2016/17 WBC

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Crash course with so many new faces 

Best moment so far: Just being with team Israel and wearing the Star of David on the baseball field 

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Professional scout for the Pittsburgh Pirates

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: A force in not just European baseball but a competitive team worldwide 

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The victory vs Germany in the 10th inning and the qualifying win vs France to go to Italy

  Andrew
ALEX JACOBS: Advance Scout/Pseudo Bench Coach

Time with team Israel: Since 2012. I was assisting with the WBC in 2012 as well as 2017. This is my first opportunity to contribute to Israel Baseball.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: These opponents are tough! Compiling information about our opponents to put together game strategy with our staff.

Best moment so far: There never is just one moment. Just being together as a group and playing the game. Winning is always nice, but being a part of a group that has the same goals and intentions is very special.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I work as a Special Assignment Scout for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Team Israel will soon be competing for a spot in the Premier 12 within the next decade.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: A large majority of my day is spent in the concierge lounge watching video on our opponents and collaborating with staff on a game plan. When I can, I will explore these cities, but most of the time is preparing for our next opponent.

  Alex
DAN ROOTENBERG: Team Physical Therapist  

Time with team Israel:  Have been with team Israel since 2012 when the first WBC team was formed.  Prior to that was first player signed in the 2007 when pro baseball was started in the Israel Baseball League 

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Keeping our talented athletes on the field and healthy so they can perform at their highest levels thus giving the team the best chance to win.   

Best moment so far: The highlight of the tournament for me by far was beating on consecutive days the German team and Great Britain which certainly would have evoked disbelief just a few years ago (as written by D. Grossman in the JPost.)   

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am the CEO of SPEAR Physical Therapy.  We have 18 locations in New York and help over 350,000 people become better versions of themselves each year. 

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: In 5 years team Israel will have some 2nd generation players.  It will be a balanced mixed of native born Israeli athletes and Jews who have made Aliyah and will be getting ready for another Olympic qualifier  

Highlight of the tournament day for you: My favorite moment of each game is the Hatikva. It means we all put in our prep work to get to that point and it reminds me of what unites everyone on the team. It also reminds me of my father Jay who was born in Palestine in 1936. My dad was at the intersection of baseball and Israel in my life, and my contribution is in his memory.  

  Dan

SYDNI HOLTZ: Team Nurse, Assistant Trainer.

Time with team Israel: I have been involved with Team Israel for 3 years now. I started with the B Pool Tournament in Serbia back in 2017 and have been with them this whole summer in Bulgaria, Lithuania, and Germany.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Trying to help keep the players feeling their best. We play a bunch of games in a short time frame so it’s imperative we make sure everyone is taken care of and injury free.

Best moment so far: Winning the quarter-final game against France. Winning guaranteed us a spot in Italy next week; we are one step closer to the Olympics!

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: I am a Pediatric Oncology Nurse at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in NYC. I have played and been around this sport for as long as I can remember, and I previously attended New York University where I was a pitcher for the softball team. Many of my friendships, favorite memories, and greatest life lessons have come from growing up around baseball.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see Team Israel continuing to grow and build. My hope is that the successes of our team will encourage the younger players in Israel to continue to work hard and improve so that they will one day be representing their country on this team.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The highlight of game days for me is watching the guys stand on the line for the playing of Hatikvah. It is awesome seeing so many guys from different backgrounds coming together for one common goal: to represent Israel.

  Sydni

JORDY ALTER: IAB Vice President, Team Gopher (self defined)

Time with team Israel: Lost count

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Finding an open laudromat in the various towns and cities we play in.

Best moment so far: Beating Team Germany on their home soil.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Tooth schlepper (AKA dentist)

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing in Bet Shemesh on our new field

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Every moment

Jordy

YARON EREL: IAB treasurer and special assistant to the general manager.

Responsibilties include booking hotels, plane tickets, making sure there’s money for all expenses

Time with team Israel: 13 years, about 20 different tournaments from u12 and up.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Making sure everyone gets where they need to be on time, safe and happy, and with their suitcases.

Best moment so far: Win against Russia in the B Pool of the European Championships in July, with a tie game, Tal (Erel) at bat, kept fouling the balls until Russia’s pitcher threw 2 wild pitches and we scored our 4th and 5th run to win the game.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Senior relationship manager at Leumi Private banking, head of Ultra High Net worth customer team.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: Playing on highest level tournaments with many Israeli born players in the roster.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: The win against Germany in extra inning and Tal Erel's single RBI against Great Britain with 2 strikes and 2 outs.

Yaron
MARGO SUGARMAN: Team Israel Media Liaison, Team Photographer, (sometimes team mom) and Secretary General of the IAB

Time with Team Israel: My time with the senior team began at the World Baseball Classic Qualifiers in 2016. I have also been manager of many national youth teams since 2011.

Biggest challenge during the tournament: Editing the hundreds of photos I’ve shot during that day's game, writing a game summary, and getting all this material to our colleagues in the press before I miss the deadline in this crazy 24/7 news world. That’s in addition to posting the game results all our social media pages, trying to respond all the many comments from our fans, and uploading all the photos to our Facebook page before the players start asking for them. And repeating it all againt the next day!

Best moment so far: Watching the team win against Germany in 10th inning tie breaker at the end of the most stressful game I’ve ever seen. Also, seeing Nick Rickles, Rob Paller and Danny Valencia all hit home runs in the quarter-final win against France.

Your baseball life outside of Team Israel: Freelance business communications consultant.

Where you see Team Israel in 5 years: I see the players who today are representing Israel in our Under 16 and 18 teams, and doing an amazing job, taking their places in the Senior National Team and proving what a great program we’ve built over the years to develop our local Israeli talent.

Highlight of the tournament day for you: Having a laugh with the players.

Margo
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