End Game 2

Team Israel overcame consistently rainy weather, 13 runners left on base and a determined Swedish team to win their second game 4-3 at the European Championships at the Weyersberg Baseball Park in Solingen, Germany on September 8, with a walk-off. The win went to Jon Moscot.  

Israel was first out of gate to score in the second inning. Rob Paller doubled to right center, Zach Penprase reached on a throwing error by third base, and Paller advanced to third. Jeremy Wolf singled to center field and Paller scored.

In the fourth inning, Sweden drove two runs in, off starter Eric Brodkowitz, the first a homerun from Nicolas Filice with one out, the second from a balk with bases loaded. Mitch Glasser opened the fourth inning with a walk, and then advanced to second when Ty Kelly grounded out to the pitcher. A single from Blake Gailen down the right field line brought Glasser home to even the score.

Benajmin Wanger, who was back from injury and was unavailable for the earlier European Championship tournaments came in for Brodkowitz in the fifth inning. He retired the side in order and repeated the feat in the sixth.

The seventh inning saw Sweden edge in front with Daniel Johnson reaching on a fielding error by shortstop Ty Kelly. Pontus Bystroem doubled down the right field to advance Johnson to third. After a strike out, and an intentional walk, Peter Johannessen flied out to right field, and Johnson scored an unearned run.

Jon Moscot, who had also just returned from injury and surgery and has been waiting to join Team Israel since before the 2017 World Baseball Classic, came in for Wanger, and proceeded to retire the side in order as well. Israel was unable to make any headway in the eighth inning, and as the rain intensified, the stage was set for a dramatic final inning, with Sweden, the visiting team, ahead 3-2. Following a walk by Johnson, a Bystroem grounded out to advance Johnson to second. A second ground out moved Johnson to third. Following the intentional walk of Alex Rubanowitz, Moscot struck out Johannessen swinging, leaving two Swedish runners on base.

In the bottom of the ninth inning, with Sweden's formidable Jacon Syren in for Niklas Melin, Nick Rickles singled up the middle and Assaf Lowengart pinch ran for Rickles. Danny Valencia singled to third base, and advanced to second on a throwing error by third base. Lowengart advanced to second, and then to third on the error. Simon Rosenbaum walked and then, on a wild pitch, Rosenbaum advanced to second, Valencia advanced to third and Lowengart scored to even the game. The Swedes intentionally walked Paller and struck out Zach Penprase. With bases loaded and one out, Jeremy Wolf drew the walk that advanced the runner for the winning run by Valencia and for Israel to go 2-0 in the tournament. Next, Israel faces hosts Germany.

Israel will also face Great Britain and Netherlands in Group A. Pool B is made up of Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia. The top five teams advance to the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, to take place in Parma Italy from September 18-22.

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Blake Gailen HR

In the opening game of Team Israel’s European Championship at the Weyersberg Baseball Park in Solingen, Germany on September 7, Israel started strong, beating the perennial championships contender Czech Republic.

Czech Republic took an early one unearned run lead in the bottom of the first inning. Israel started slowly, with only one hit in each of the first two innings from Blake Gailen, who had singled up the middle in the top of the first, and Simon Rosenbaum who singled through the left side in the second. In the third inning, Gailen, in his second at bat, homered to right field, starting Israel’s bid to reach the Olympic Games qualifiers in style, and gave Israel a one run edge. Tied at 1-1, the game became a pitchers’ duel between starter Joey Wagman, who went 4 and two thirds innings with zero earned runs and Czech’s Radim Chroust.

In the top of the seventh inning, the momentum turned when, with one out, Mitch Glasser doubled to left center, just before Israel’s second out of the inning. A walk for Ty Kelly brought on a pitching change for the Czechs, who brought in Jan Novak. Up next, Gailen walked, Glasser advanced to third and Kelly to second, before catcher Nick Rickles come up to bat. A line-drive down the right field line brought home Glasser, Kelly and Gailen. A single up the middle by Danny Valencia drove Rickles in for the fourth run of the inning and a 5-1 lead for Israel.

Driving rain at the bottom of the inning forced a suspension, not before the wet conditions saw two Czech batters get on base, past Israel pitcher Zack Weiss. When the game restarted, Jonathan DeMarte came in to pitch for Weiss, and immediately struck out the next Czech batter, Martin Schneider, and Matej Hajma grounded out to short stop Zach Penprase. Advances to second and third by the two runners on base were to no avail after a fly out to center fielder Gailen ended the scoreless half inning for Czech Republic, leaving Israel with a comfortable lead.

Israel cemented its lead in the top of the eighth inning after Glasser singled through the left side. Jeremy Wolf, pinch hitting for Jake Rosenberg, reached on a fielding error by second base and Glasser advanced to second on the error. Kelly reached on a fielder's choice to shortstop, Wolf advanced to second on a throwing error by the Czech short stop and Glasser advanced to third on the same error. Gailen singled through the left side and Glasser scored.

After Czech Republic’s Hajma struck out, Petr Cech doubled down the right field line. DeMarte quickly followed that up by striking out the next two batters swinging.

Israel was unable to add to the score line in the top of the final inning. David (DJ) Sharabi came in to close. He allowed two hits, but then struck out the next two batters swinging, and Martin Cervenka lined out to Valencia at third base to end the game.  

Israel continues the week with games against Germany, Great Britain and Netherlands in Group A. Pool B is made up of Austria, Belgium, Italy, France, Spain and Croatia. The top five teams advance to the qualifiers for the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020, to take place in Parma Italy from September 18-22.

Zach Penprase

Team Israel is heading to the A Pool of the European Championships in Bonn, Germany in early September, on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Tokyo. Finishing in the top 5 in the tournament will take Team Israel straight through to the Olympics qualifiers in Italy.

Let's hear from team member Zach Penprase, a new immigrant to Israel who played for Team Israel in Pool B of the European Championships in July.

Bio
Age: 34
Height: 6’2”
Weight: 190lb
Position: SS/IF
Throws/bats: R/R
Current Team: Israel National Team

A brief history
Grew up in Southern California where I played almost every sport including gymnastics, karate, golf, baseball, tennis, and soccer. After high school went to Mississippi Valley State University and started as a freshman. Led all D-1 baseball in stolen bases in 2006 with 57. Drafted by the Phillies in the same year and played for the Red Sox and went to spring training with the Dodgers in 2009. Spent 8 years playing for the Fargo-Moorhead RedHawks of the American Association where I played against fellow Israel teammate Blake Gailen, where I last played in 2015. I now teach mental performance skills to up and coming elite athletes.

Your standout moment as a player for Team Israel
Hitting 2 homeruns in the same at bat in Bulgaria.

Your baseball mantra
Find a way!

What you are most looking forward to in Germany
Getting on the bus to Italy

You’re a fan of…
Traveling and competing

Superstitions
Superstitions are for superstitious people. I actually change things up to show they’re pointless.

Nick Rickles WBC

Team Israel is heading to the A Pool of the European Championships in Bonn, Germany in early September, on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Finishing in the top 5 in the tournament will take Team Israel straight through to the Olympics qualifiers in Italy.

Let's hear from team member Nick Rickles, who played for Team Israel in the 2012 WBC qualifiers and the 2017 WBC tournament.

Bio
Age: 29
Height: 6’3”
Weight: 225lb
Position: C
Throws/bats: R/R
Current Team: Milwaukee Brewers Organization (player/coach)

A brief history
I was drafted in 2011 out of Stetson University where I was a two-time All-American. Played in three minor league organizations: Oakland Athletics, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies. I’m currently a player/coach in the Milwaukee Brewers Organization.

Your standout moment as a player for Team Israel
Running out of the dugout with the team in Brooklyn, when we clinched a spot in the upcoming World Baseball Classic!

Your baseball mantra
Don’t worry about the things you can’t control.

What you are most looking forward to in Germany
Getting back on the baseball field and competing with my guys! We haven’t seen each other in two years, and now to be side by side, between the white lines, competing for something bigger than ourselves again, is going to be amazing !

You’re a fan of…
My wife (Cass) and daughter (Riley). Without their love and support I’d never be able to do the things I’ve been able to do, in baseball and life.

Superstitions
When I’m playing, I have to be chewing 2 pieces of gum through the game!

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