Israel dominates Lithuania, wins B Pool to advance in Olympic qualifying

The blue-and-white beat Lithuania in the playoff round on Friday and Saturday, winning the first two games in the best-of-three series in Utena, Lithuania, 12-2 and 15-0, respectively.

By JERUSALEM POST STAFF
July 28, 2019 23:30
2 minute read.
TEAM ISRAEL has been on a torrid streak, winning all eight B Pool games it has played over the past

TEAM ISRAEL has been on a torrid streak, winning all eight B Pool games it has played over the past month and crushing Lithuania this weekend to advance to the A Pool Tournament.. (photo credit: YARON EREL/COURTESY)

The Israel Association Baseball’s senior national team won the B Pool of the Confederation of European Baseball’s (CEB) European Championships over the weekend.

The blue-and-white beat Lithuania in the playoff round on Friday and Saturday, winning the first two games in the best-of-three series in Utena, Lithuania, 12-2 and 15-0, respectively.

Team Israel will now play in the A Pool tournament of the European Championships on September 7-15 in Bonn, Germany. The other teams already qualified are the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, Czech Republic, Germany, Belgium, France, Sweden, Croatia, Great Britain and Austria. Israel will face teams from the Czech Republic, Belgium, Austria, Great Britain and Netherlands in its group. The top five teams out of the total of 12 teams in the tournament will move on to the Olympic Games qualifiers for Europe and Africa to take place in Parma, Italy on September 18-22.

Team Israel dominated play in the B Pool, and swept all eight games through the first round and the playoff competition. In the first round of the B Pool in Bulgaria in early July, Israel won all six of its games to advance to the best of three playoff.

In the playoff, Israel shut down Lithuania over two games, scoring a total of 27 runs over the two days (to Lithuania’s two) including nine home runs – two each for Simon Rosenbaum, Rob Paller and Jeremy Wolf. Dominant pitching by Gabe Cramer, Eric Brodkowitz and Joey Wagman led Israel to its two wins against Lithuania.

Team Israel came in second place two years ago in the B Pool, and was bolstered this year by 14 professional American baseball players who made aliyah to assist Team Israel in its Olympic bid.  Six of them played for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic, in which Israel finished in sixth place. 

“The A Pool is not our goal,” said Peter Kurz, President of the IAB and GM of Team Israel. “Our goal is to reach the Olympic Qualifiers after the A Pool. In a short A Pool series, with our pitching, anything can happen.”

To reach the qualifiers, Israel must finish in the top five of 12 teams in the A Pool. Kurz believes that goal is attainable.

“Our team represents the best of Israel Baseball, with players who have vast experience both on the professional stage as well as in colleges. Their motivation is at an all-time high to represent Israel on this international stage and to go all the way to Tokyo in 2020.”


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