Joey Wagman delivered one of the greatest individual performances in Israel Baseball history on Thursday night in leading the boys in blue-and-white past the Czech Republic 3-2 in the quarterfinals of the European Championships at Impianti Sportivi Comunali Avigliana in Italy. Israel will take on host Italy in the semifinals on Friday night.
Wagman pitched 7 strong innings before moving to left field for the final 2 innings. He tied the game with a perfectly-placed bunt in the bottom of the 7th and drove in the game-winner with a single to score Itai Goldner with 2 outs in the 9th. His final line was 2 runs – 1 earned – on 3 hits and 1 walk with 10 strikeouts as a pitcher. Wagman was 2 for 2 with 2 RBI as a hitter.
“This was an extremely hard-fought game. That Czech team is even better than the team we faced two years ago," Wagman said. "They’re a solid baseball team. That’s a good lineup. Those are two extremely good and talented pitchers that we faced. It was a tight ballgame and we did everything that we could to try to win the game. To be able to help the team on the mound and then be able to help the team at the plate was amazing. We did everything we could to win the game and we got the job done.”
Ben Wanger was credited as the winning pitcher. He struck out 2 in pitching scoreless 8th and 9th innings.
"I am proud of the guys for finding a way to win," Manager Nate Fish said. "It was a close game against a good team and we just kept going."
Israel scored first in the bottom of the third inning when Tal Erel walked, reached third on a Ty Kelly double and came home on Mitch Glasser’s groundout. They gave the lead up quickly when Assaf Lowengart’s throwing error in the top of the fourth allowed Petr Cech to score. Marek Chlup drilled a no-doubt-about-in homer in the seventh to put the Czech Republic up 2-1.
In the bottom of the seventh, Jordan Petrushka singled and advanced to third when Goldner reached on an error. Wagman stepped to the plate for the first time and brought Petrushka home with a perfect bunt. With 2 outs in the 9th, Goldner singled and advanced to second base on a throwing error. Wagman lined the fourth pitch he saw to center field and Goldner sprinted home to set off the celebrations.
Israel out-hit the Czechs 8-4. Glasser, who was 2 for 4 with a double, was the only Israeli hitter with multiple hits aside from Wagman. Erel also reached base twice via walks.
Big game Joey! @J_Wags30 drives in @ItaiGoldner with 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th to beat @BaseballCzech 3-2 and send #TeamIsrael to the semifinals of the European Championships! 🇮🇱⚾️💪 #eurobaseball21 #blueandwhite_baseball pic.twitter.com/JiQVhSwMRG— Israel Baseball (@ILBaseball) September 16, 2021