DeMarte Game3

In a nail biting tenth inning tie break, Team Israel pulled a series of outstanding defensive plays out of the bag to beat Germany 4-2 in the third game of the European Baseball Championships in Bonn, Germany. Both teams were vying to go 3-0. Israel came out on top and is 3-0 having also beaten Czech Republic and Sweden. Germany, nows 2-1, is considered one of the stronger teams in the tournament. 

Israel started strong with a double up the center from Mitch Glasser, and an RBI double by Nick Rickles for a 1-0 start in the first inning. On the mound, Gabe Cramer held the Germans at bay two innings. But in the third inning, the hosts came out ready to rally, their first at bat of the inning produced a double through the left side by Kevin Kotowski, and an RBI single from Simon Guehring had Germany tying up the game. DJ Sharabi came in for Cramer, Germany scored one more run when Pascal Amon singled to second base for the RBI, edging Germany ahead.

Israel struggled to break through offensively , but strong pitching from Sharabi, Zack Weiss, and Jonathan DeMarte held Germany at two runs. In the top of the eighth inning, Glasser walked and Blake Gailen singled through the right side, advancing Glasser. Danny Valencia flied out to left field, and Rickles struck out swinging. With two outs, Ty Kelly got the blue and white crowd on its feet when he singled to left field, and Glasser scored to tie the game up. Germany had no answer in the bottom of the eighth and the game remained tied.

Israel couldn’t add to its score line in the top of the ninth. Germany’s Marco Cardoso tripled to right field at the start of the bottom of the inning, but DeMarte made quick work of the next three batters, and left Cardoso on base to end the ninth inning in a tie.

European Championship rules require a 10th inning tie breaker situation, where two runners are placed on first and second base at the start of the half inning. The players placed on base will be the players preceding the lead-off batter in the lineup, with the player immediately preceding the lead-off batter placed on first base and the player two places before the lead-off batter placed on second base. There are no outs, and the inning continues as usual.

With Glasser placed on second and Gailen placed on first, Valencia was hit by a pitch to load the bases loaded. Rickles singled to center field, Glasser scored, Bailen was out at home and Valencia advanced to second. Kelly, up next, was hit by pitch, Rickles and Valencia advanced. Benjamin Wanger flied out to left field, for the RBI, and a two run lead. Rob Paller flied out to right field to end the tie break inning.

Dean Pelman came in for DeMarte for the bottom of the inning. Kotowski was placed on second and Sascha Lutz on first. Guehring singled to left field with a perilously deep fly ball to left field; Lutz advanced to second and Kotowski to third, but was put out at home with a throw from Pallerin left field, to short stop Kelly to catcher Rickles, for the most dramatic out of the game. Donald Lutz grounded into double play second base, short stop and first, putting Guehring out on the play, and cementing Israel’s third victory in the tournament.

DeMarte got the win, and Pelman got the save.

Israel is now 3-0, and faces Great Britain in the next game on September 10. Israel’s last round robin game will be against Netherlands on September 11. The top five teams out of both groups at the tournament will move on to the Olympic Games qualifiers in Italy.

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.

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

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