Eric Holtz

After leading the Israel Baseball national team in the Olympics, Eric Holtz has decided to step down from his position as head coach, effective immediately. Holtz informed Jordy Alter, the president of the Israel Association of Baseball, and Team Israel general manager, Peter Kurz, of his decision earlier this week.

In four years at the helm of Israel’s senior men’s national team, Holtz guided the team from the second tier of European baseball to an Olympic berth. He led Israel through four tournaments in the summer of 2019 to advance from the European B Pool to the European Championships and then the WBSC Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier, where Team Israel made history by qualifying for the 2020 Olympic Games. Israel placed fifth in the Olympic tournament in Tokyo earlier this month.

Israel Baseball thanks Holtz for his hard work in advancing the game during his tenure with the national team and wishes him much success in his future endeavors.

After Dominican Republic Photo WBSC

Team Israel’s Olympic dream came to an end on Tuesday at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Japan with a 7-6 loss to the Dominican Republic. Jose Bautista's single with 2 outs and 2 strikes in the bottom of the ninth inning drove in pinch-runner Nefri Perez for a walk-off win. Israel finished the Olympic tournament in fifth place with a 1-4 record. The Dominican Republic will play Team USA on Wednesday to keep its gold medal hopes alive.

Israel entered the ninth inning in the drivers' seat after Danny Valencia's dramatic two-run homer in the top of the eighth gave Manager Eric Holtz's men a 6-5 lead. Zack Weiss, who struck out the side in the bottom of the eighth, ran into trouble immediately in the bottom of the ninth when he allowed a monster game-tying home run to Johan Mieses.

After Melky Cabrera singled, Perez came in to run and Roldani Baldwin laid down a sacrifice bunt, Holtz elected to intentionally walk Jeison Guzman and then called on DJ Sharabi to replace Weiss. Sharabi promptly induced a ground ball to second that could have been an inning-ending double play, however shortstop Scotty Burcham was unable to make the relay throw and Israel settled for a force out at second. Sharabi appeared to have ended the inning when he threw a 2-strike pitch against Bautista over the corner of the plate, but home plate umpire Katsumi Manabe called it a ball. Bautista then lined a single to left to secure a Dominican victory.

Luis Castillo, who pitched a scoreless ninth, was credited with the win. Julio Rodriguez stood out for the winners with 2 hits and 2 RBIs. Guzman hit a go-ahead home run in the seventh, too.

Weiss took the loss for Israel after giving up 3 runs on 3 hits in 3 innings. He struck out 5. Josh Zeid started the gam and allowed 2 unearned runs in 4 innings with 3 Ks. Jake Fishman allowed 2 runs on 1 hit and 3 walks in 1.1 innings in between them. Israel's big offensive inning came in the fourth when Mitch Glasser drove in Ty Kelly and Zack Penprase with a double to tie it and then came around on Scotty Burcham's base hit. Ian Kinsler scored Burcham with a single, too.

Israel Bench Photo WBSC

Team Israel defeated Mexico 12-5 on Sunday afternoon at Yokohama Baseball Stadium in Japan to advance to the quarterfinals round of the Tokyo Olympics. Danny Valencia shined for Israel with a home run, 3 runs scored and 3 driven in. Nick Rickles also had 3 RBIs for the winners, while Mitch Glasser and Zach Penprase each added a pair of RBIs.

The victory, Israel's first of the tournament, came in a win-or-go-home contest, which ultimately eliminated Mexico. Eric Holtz's charges will face Korea next at noon local time on Monday knowing a win will send them to the medal round. Korea edged Israel 6-5 in extra innings when they played in their opening game on Thursday.

Israel struck first when Rickles singles home Valencia in the top of the first inning. Ryan Lavarnway appeared to have scored on the same play, but was called out at the plate in a close play. Starting pitcher Josh Zeid was masterful through the first two innings and Israel pulled away in the third with a three-run homer by Valencia and a two-run single by Rickles.

Mexico got to Zeid in the bottom of the third as it roared back with 4 runs. Adrian Gonzales added an RBI single in the bottom of the sixth to make it 6-5. With two on and no out, the momentum was swinging towards the Mexicans until Zack Weiss came up with a pair of clutch strikeouts to get out of the inning.

The top of the seventh was all Israel as Glasser and Penprase each had 2-run singles to highlight a 6-run surge that put the game to rest.

Jake Fishman, who came on in relief of Zeid in the third inning, was credited with the win. He allowed 1 run in 1.2 innings. Weiss struck out 3 in 2 innings of work, DJ Sharabi pitched a pair of scoreless innings and Ben Wanger threw a perfect ninth. Mexico starter Manuel Barreda was handed the loss. He allowed 6 runs – 5 earned – in 2 innings.

Box Score

Shlomo Lipetz Photo WBSC

Team Israel fell to 0-2 at the Olympic Games in Tokyo after suffering an 8-1 loss against Team USA on Friday evening at Yokohama Baseball Stadium. Manager Eric Holtz’s side will place third in Group B and face the last-place team in Group A on Sunday in a do-or-die game for both teams.

Tyler Austin hit a 2-run homer in the third and finished with 3 RBIs to lead the Americans. Eddy Alvarez and Bubba Starling drove in 2 runs apiece too. Joe Ryan allowed 1 run and struck out 5 in 6 innings to get the win.

Israel starter Joey Wagman was cruising with 4 Ks in the first two innings before running into trouble with 2 outs in the third. DJ Sharabi pitched a scoreless fourth and fifth frame and Danny Valencia got Israel on the scoreboard with a monster shot to left field in the fourth, but Israel's hurlers allowed runs in each of the last four innings. Catcher Ryan Lavarnway was the only Israeli with multiple hits.

Holtz made sure to give all the players on the roster a chance to play, including the four Israeli-born players. Veteran pitcher Shlomo Lipetz forced a double-play and Alon Leichman threw a scoreless inning. Assaf Lowengart came on as a defensive replacement in the outfield and Tal Erel as a pinch hitter in the ninth.

Jake Fishman Photo WBSC

Team Israel suffered a heart-breaking 6-5 loss in 10 innings to South Korea in the teams' opening game at the 2020 Olympic Games at Yokohama Stadium in Japan on Thursday. Pinch-runner Kunwoo Park scored the winning run when Israel reliever Jeremy Bleich's 2-out pitch to Euiji Yang grazed the Korean catcher with bases loaded.

Manager Eric Holtz's men struck first on a 2-run home run by Ian Kinsler in the third inning and – after Korea tied it with a 2-run homer off Jake Fishman in the fourth – Ryan Lavarnway blasted a 2-run shot in the sixth to make it 4-2. Zack Weiss gave up 3 runs in the bottom of the seventh as Korea assumed control, however Lavarnway went deep for a second time to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the ninth and Josh Zeid shot down Korea in the bottom half of the inning to force extra innings.

Under international rules, both teams start all extra innings with runners on first and second. Israel failed to capitalize as Mitch Glasser, Scott Burcham and Kinsler struck out in order. Jaegyun Hwang bunted the runners over for Korea in the bottom of the 10th before Ty Kelly made a great running catch behind third. Bleich then loaded the bases when he hit Kyoungmin Hur and his final pitch that glanced off Yang's shirt sent the winning run home.

Korea out-hit Israel 11-7, led by shortstop Ji Hwan Oh, who had 3 hits and 3 RBIs. Korea's starting pitcher Taein Won allowed 2 runs and struck out 5 in 3 innings. Seunghwan Oh, who gave up Lavarnway's second homer, was credited with the win. He allowed 1 run and struck out 5 in two innings.

Tragedy hit Israel early when starting pitcher Jon Moscot left the game with an injury after only 9 pitches thrown. Fishman allowed 2 earned runs in 3.2 innings and Weiss allowed 3 runs in 2 innings. Zeid threw 2.1 scoreless innings and Alex Katz did not allow a hit or a run in 1 inning of work.


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