Team Israel handily beat France 8-2 in the quarter finals of the European Baseball Championships in Bonn, Germany today, moving up to the semi-finals tomorrow, and securing a place in the Olympic Games qualifiers to take place next week in Italy. The five teams that finish top in the European Championships plus the already-qualified South Africa, play in the Europe/Africa Olympic taking in place in Parma and Bologna in Italy from September 18-22.
With Joey Wagman on the mound, Israel came out of the block fired up. After the lead-off batter for France grounded out, Maxime Lefevre doubled to right field and Andy Paz walked. But an infield fly double play ended the top of the first. (1-0 B). At the bottom of the inning, Ty Kelly walked, and Blake Gailen doubled through the right side for the RBI with Kelly scoring. Up next, Danny Valencia homered to center field for a two run RBI, putting Israel into an early 3-0 lead.
With France unable to score, Israel surged forward again in the third inning, and added two runs to the tally thanks to a 2RBI homer to left field by catcher Nick Rickles, to extend the lead to 5-0. Israel continued to dominate starting the fourth inning with a homer to right field from Rob Paller. Zach Penprase singled to right center, and advanced to second on an error, Jeremy Wolf singled to center field and Penprase advanced to third. After a change of pitcher, Kelly grounded into double play with Wolf out on the play, and Penprase scored for a 7-0 lead.
David Sharabi came in for Wagman in the fifth, and retired the side in order. In the sixth inning, France made it onto the score board with two unearned runs, Israel was unable to add any runs in the sixth, ending the inning 7-2. Zack Weiss, in for Sharabi in the seventh inning, retired the side in order. Four walks helped Israel to add another run to its score for 8-2. In the eighth inning, Weiss once again struck out the side in order. Wolf started the bottom of the eighth with a double to left field, but Israel wasn’t able to capitalize with two strikeouts and a pop up ending the inning.
Ahead 8-2, Jonathan DeMarte came in to close, and with a fly out and two strike outs, ensured Israel’s path to the semi-finals of the European Championships and a spot in the Olympic Games qualifiers.
Sharabi got the win. Israel plays Italy in the semi-finals at 19:00 (Germany) on September 14.
This is the first time that a team from Israel has reached the European Baseball Championships, after working its way up through the lower pools over the past few years. “The hard work has already started paying off,” says Team General Manager and Israel Association of Baseball President Peter Kurz. “For months it’s been a dream for us to reach the Olympic Games qualifiers alongside the very top teams in Europe, and today, this dream came true. It’s very exciting to achieve two remarkable milestones in one tournament – reach the Olympics qualifiers and get further in the European Championships than any Israeli baseball team has ever before. We still have more games to win, but our players are motivated to go all the way to Tokyo 2020.”