Israel National U16 Team manager Yaron Erel's diary of the PONY Tournament in Prague2014-04-25 1137

Thursday – the first game was against Russia: A scary name in Israel baseball history.‎
Yotam Ben Amram pitched the first inning – had 2 strike outs and 1 ground out.‎
Noam Kalisar started with a pop up, Assaf Lowengart walked and later scored; Yoav ‎Halper, with his first double of the tournament, brought Assaf in; Yotam, with another ‎double, brought Halper in; Adam Miller singled and brought Yotam in. Ethan popped up to ‎first but Yoav Meoded doubled with an RBI. Hadar Sugarman was HBP for single; ‎Michael Goldberg hit to LF; a double for Noam to LF; a single for Assaf to RF; a triple for ‎Halper to CF; another double for Yotam; a single for Adam and Ethan before Meoded ‎grounded out to 2B. This gave us a promising lead of 11:0 at the end of first inning.‎
Assaf replaced Yotam as a pitcher and gave the Russians their only hit, with a single, ‎then one walk and the rest strike outs, that was everything the Russians had against us.‎
We continued hitting very hard and benefitted from the errors of the Russian players, ‎who were failing to catch our balls that were hit hard to the outfield.‎
In this game ALL our players played. Ely hit for Hadar, Jacob hit for Michael, Omri ran ‎for Yotam and David Ibn Ezra hit as well.‎
The final score: 27:0 Israel after too many Russian errors. But for the first time team ‎Israel was hitting almost every ball to the outfield.‎

1Friday second game - Belarus, a team we’d already beaten in the past.‎
Yotam started pitching with 2 strike outs and 1 ground out to short stop (Noam). ‎
Noam started the inning with a single to LF; Assaf grounded out to 1B but brought Noam ‎in 1:0 Israel. Halper singled to LF but was later out at 2B. Yotam struck out but made it to ‎first on an error. Adam struck out to end the inning. ‎
Second inning - Yotam pitched another inning with a fly out to LF, walk, strike out, walk ‎and finished the inning with a ground out to 2B.‎
Our half inning was also short - Hadar flied out; Michael singled to LF; Noam struck out; ‎and Assaf popped up to the short stop to end the inning.‎
Third inning - Adam pitched a strike out, fly out to LF and a ground out to short stop.‎
Noam hit a triple to CF; Assaf singled to CF and drove Noam in; Halper walked; Yotam ‎singled to LF and drove two runners in; Adam walked; Ethan made it to first base on an ‎error; Meoded hit and got to base on a fielder’s choice; Hadar bunted successfully for an ‎infield single; Michaels struck out to end the inning 8:0 Israel.‎
In the last inning we scored two more runs by Noam and Assaf and game was over after ‎‎4 innings by mercy rule.‎

Friday third game - Czech Academy U15‎
We knew before the game by winning we would finish first place in our bracket, meaning ‎we’d have to play two games on Shabbat which we did not want, and to probably play the ‎Czech Academy U16 in the quarter finals, which we didn’t want either. On the other ‎hand, a coach never sends his team to lose a game on purpose and always wants to win. ‎So we played the game...‎
Assaf started pitching with a walk (got out at 2B later); a fly out to RF; another walk and a ‎line drive out to 3B. ‎
We started the inning strong with two runs scored by Noam and Assaf after a double to ‎LF and a single to CF from Assaf that drove Noam in.‎
Halper maintained his hot bat with another double; Yotam popped up; Adam walked; ‎Ethan grounded out to the pitcher and Meoded lined out to 2B. First inning - 2:0 Israel ‎
48The trouble started in the second inning with three walks, a pop up to short stop, a strike ‎out and another strike out to end the inning with no runs. We didn’t do much better at bat ‎with Hadar’s fly out, Michael’s single, Noam’s strike out and Assaf's pop up. Score still ‎‎2:0 Israel‎
Third inning and the Czechs started with a single, ground out to short stop, walk, single ‎with RBI to CF, another single to 3B walk, error by the short stop got the runner on base ‎and then we were punished with a triple to CF 3 RBI - Czechs 5:2. The inning wasn’t over ‎yet with a single (on an error), walk, walk single with another RBI and a pop up, ending ‎the inning at 8:2.‎
We started with a triple to CF by Halper; a walk for Yotam; a double from Adam that ‎scored 2 runs (later he was out at home plate). Ethan singled; Meoded was hit by a pitch; ‎Hadar popped up to 1B; Michael got on base on fielder’s choice and Noam grounded out ‎to end the inning. 8:4 Czech.‎
Fourth inning. The Czechs continue to punish us on walks (5 more), and scored 2 more ‎runs. Michael relieved Assaf with a strike out to end the inning.‎
Fourth inning - Assaf struck out; Halper flied out to CF; and Yotam struck out to end the ‎game10:4. This was the only game in the tournament we could afford to lose.‎
We had Shabbat dinner on Friday night for entire team and coaches. It’s always good to ‎take some time off and just to be together and receive Shabbat as one unified group – ‎religious, non-religious, city boys, Kibbutz boys, Israeli-born players, new immigrants - ‎kids from such a different backgrounds brought together by baseball and the best of ‎friends!‎

Saturday - fourth game - Lithuania
Our religious boys didn’t want to miss the opportunity to support the team, even though ‎they weren’t playing so walked with Orr Gottlieb, our coach, for 1.5 hours to be on the ‎bench and cheer for their friends.‎
This was the most important game of the tournament so far for us, against a team that ‎last year, after a 5:0 lead, exploded on us and took the lead 9:5 until bottom of last inning ‎with two outs, when we managed to make a last effort and win 10:9 to advance to the ‎championship game against all odds. This year they were waiting for their revenge. They ‎will have to wait another year…‎
Our ace Yotam started the game with a fly out to center field, a walk and then a ground ‎out double play to 2B. ‎
10Noam walked; Assaf moved Noam to 2B with a sac bunt; Halper singled to CF on an ‎error (Noam scored); Yotam flied out to LF and with 2 outs; Ethan walked and Meoded, ‎with bases loaded, hit an outside the park home run and the first grand slam for an Israeli ‎team in many, many years. Hadar finished the inning with a fly out, 5:0 Israel.‎
Second inning - walk (later out at home plate); hit by pitch; and another walk (got out at ‎‎2B on a fielder’s choice); another fielder’s choice and a strike out to end the inning. ‎Lithuania scored 1 run. ‎
David Ibn Ezra started the inning with a single on an error by the short stop (and later was ‎called out at 3B on a bad call after the player dropped the ball). Noam struck out; Assaf ‎singled to LF; Halper walked; and Yotam with a double to CF, drove Assaf in. Adam ‎ended the inning with a fly out to CF. Israel 6:1.‎
Third inning - Lithuania started with fly out to CF; a walk, single on an error of the short ‎stop; another walk; strike out and pop up to the short stop to end the inning.‎
We started with Ethan flying out to RF; Meoded popped up to 2B; and Hadar lined out to ‎‎3B. ‎
Lithuania scored one more run only for the rest of the game, with Yotam pitching a ‎complete 5 innings game in 1:39 minutes. As per tournament rules, no new inning will ‎start after 100 minutes (the first pitch thrown starts the inning) and we were at 99 ‎minutes. The umpires called the game, but Lithuanian team wanted to play another ‎inning. Amit explained to the umpires they had already called the game and that time was ‎up as the Lithuanian team was not in the field, 8 warm up pitches were not thrown and ‎was no chance to do all this in one minute. So the umpires called the game again in spite ‎of the Lithuanian coach’s protests, and the Lithuanian players did not come out to shake ‎hands with our players. The English team players and supported who were watching, ‎started calling us cowards yelling and telling the umpires to continue one more inning, as ‎they wanted us to burn more pitchers and tire our players out.‎
Game was over - 6:2 Israel. We made it to the semifinal but lost Yotam, who pitched over ‎‎100 pitches.‎

Sunday - semifinals against the English team London Mets, which had beaten us 10:5 ‎two years ago. Our players weren’t going to allow this to happen again and put the ‎pressure on the Mets from the first inning.‎
Noam tripled and scored on an error on a throw into the dugout. Assaf singled; Halper ‎singled; Yotam walked; Adam grounded out with an RBI; Ethan popped up; Meoded ‎singled and drove in a run in; Hadar walked; and David struck out. 3:0 Israel. ‎
With Adam on the mound, they started with a single to CF but the runner was caught ‎stealing to 2B. This was followed by a strike out, single to RF and another strike out to ‎end the inning.‎
33Second inning we started with Noam doubling to CF, Assaf struck; out Halper flied out to ‎LF and Yotam lined out to short stop. ‎
The English team started with another single to SS, the second batter grounded out to SS ‎for a double play 2B and 1B, and then a pop up to SS ended the inning. Score still 3:0 ‎Israel.‎
At the top of the third, we started with a fly out from Adam to CF; Ethan singled to SS; ‎Meoded hit another single to LF, Hadar popped up; David singled to 2B; and Noam ended ‎the inning with a strike out with bases loaded. The British team grounded out to 2B; ‎doubled to LF; but a fly out to CF and ground out to 3B ended the inning with no damage.‎
In the fourth inning, Assaf walked; Halper tripled over the head of CF; Assaf scored; ‎Yotam struck out; Adam singled and drove Halper in; Ethan grounded out to SS into a ‎double play. Score Israel 5 London Mets 0.‎
The Mets started their half of the fourth inning with a single to SS; a double to CF that ‎drove their first run in; another double to RF that drove in another run; a pop up to RF; fly ‎out to RF; and a strike out to end the inning. Score Israel 5: London 2‎
Fifth inning - we didn’t do much except for a single by Meoded. But then the London Mets ‎didn’t do that much either!‎
Sixth and last inning - Noam walked; Assaf singled to RF; Halper got on base on a ‎fielder’s choice; Yotam walked; and Adam, with a sac fly out to RF, drove Noam in to ‎extend our lead to 6:2. Ethan ended the inning with a fly out to CF.‎
The Mets started their come back with a double to LF; the second batter hit a single to ‎short stop and made it to base when we threw the runner from second out at 3B; a fly out ‎to CF and then a single to CF. With 2 outs, their player hit the ball to the infield and Adam ‎over threw 1B allowing, a player to score. Then another single to RF and another run ‎scored. The last out was a ground out to end the game - Israel 6 London Mets 4.‎

We made it to the championship for the second year in a row. We played a tough game ‎against the Czech Academy, a strong team that beat us 17-1. With pride we returned ‎home with the silver medal and a goal to go further next year.‎
Well done to all the players and coaches and staff for an excellent tournament. ‎


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