Israel sitting pretty at 4-0 in Germany

Back-to-back comeback victories for blue-and-white over host and Great Britain at European Championship.

 ISRAEL PITCHER Benjamin Wanger pitched a gutsy seventh inning yesterday and struck out the side in the eighth as the blue-and-white beat Great Britain 7-4 to improve its record to a perfect 4-0 at the European Baseball Championship in Germany.  (photo credit: MARGO SUGARMAN)
ISRAEL PITCHER Benjamin Wanger pitched a gutsy seventh inning yesterday and struck out the side in the eighth as the blue-and-white beat Great Britain 7-4 to improve its record to a perfect 4-0 at the European Baseball Championship in Germany.
(photo credit: MARGO SUGARMAN)
Following an impressive defeat of Germany on Monday, Team Israel was back on the field in Solingen, Germany, early Tuesday for Game 4 of the European Baseball Championship against Great Britain. At 1-2, the Brits were hungry for a win, but Israel remained on form to take the game 7-4 and become the first team in the tournament to win four games.
Israel is now the top-ranked team in Pool A of the tournament; with Italy and Spain, both in Pool B, each at 3-0 to date. The top four teams from each pool will qualify for the quarterfinals and the top five teams out of both groups at the tournament after the playoffs will move on will advance to the WBSC Olympic Qualifier Europe-Africa tournament in Parma, Italy, beginning on September 18.
On Tuesday, with Alon Leichman on the mound for Israel, Great Britain took a 3-0 lead on a three-run homer by Ben Andrews.
In the second inning, the blue-and-white started easing back into the game. Nick Rickles was hit by a pitch, shortstop Ty Kelly singled and Rob Paller walked to load the bases. Jake Rosenberg grounded into double play, but Rickles scored. Then Jeremy Wolf walked and catcher Tal Erel singled through the left side as Kelly scored Israel’s second run of the inning.
Neither team added any runs in the third and fourth innings, but in the fifth Danny Valencia hit an RBI single to score Erel and tie the game at 3-3.
In the seventh inning, Glasser was hit by pitch and Blake Gailen hit a towering home run to put Israel in front by two runs.
Israeli pitcher, and recent Yale University graduate, Benjamin Wanger gave up a run in the seventh, but Great Britain was stopped there.
In the top of the eighth, Simon Rosenbaum helped the blue-and-white tack on an insurance run, scoring Paller on an RBI single, while Wanger struck out Great Britain in order in the bottom of the eighth.
Gailen opened the ninth inning with his second home run of the game to give Israel a 7-4 advantage and close out the scoring as Israel maintained its perfect record and earned a place in the quarterfinals at the end of the week.
Israel plays the Netherlands on Wednesday in the last game of round-robin play.
Meanwhile, late Monday night, Team Israel pulled off a dramatic come-from-behind victory over host Germany by a score  4-2, in a nail-biting 10-inning encounter
Israel took a 1-0 lead in the first inning on doubles by Glasser and Rickles.
On the mound, Gabe Cramer held the Germans at bay for two innings before RBI singles from catcher Simon Guehring and Pascal Amon put them ahead 2-1
The blue-and-white struggled to break through offensively, but strong pitching from DJ Sharabi, Zack Weiss, and Jonathan DeMarte supported by great defense shut the hosts down the rest of the way.
Indeed perhaps the most important runs in this game were the ones that Israel’s defense prevented.
In the sixth inning, with the Germans threatening a big inning, shortstop Kelly threw out a runner at the plate in a bang-bang play, keeping the blue-and-white in the game. Kelly later tied the game contributing a clutch two-out hit that scored Glasser, and got the hearts pumping among the small crowd of Israeli fans.
But German speedster Marco Cardoso led off the ninth with a liner to right and scampered all the way to third. With the winning run just 90 feet from home, DeMarte gave a gutsy exhibition of pressure pitching, retiring the next three hitters on a strikeout, pop fly and ground-out.
By European Championship rules, the 10th inning then began with a tie-breaker situation, whereby two runners are automatically placed on first and second base to encourage scoring.
In the top of the 10th, With Glasser on second and Gailen on first, Valencia was hit by a pitch to load the bases. Rickles singled to centerfield to score Glasser, but Gailen was thrown out at home. Benjamin Wanger responded with a sacrifice fly to score Valencia and give the blue-and-white an insurance run.
Dean Pelman came in to pitch the bottom of the 10th. To begin their half of the inning, the Germans were also awarded men on first and second. Israeli hearts sank as German catcher crushed a ball deep that looked like a walk-off three-run homer. However, it hit the left-field fence and the runner on second indecisively waited until the ball fell to venture off the base.
Perfect relay throws from deep left to shortstop Kelly to catcher Rickles produced the most dramatic out of the evening and kept Germany off the scoreboard. The Israeli defense then turned its third double play of the night, cementing Israel’s third victory in the tournament.
Bottom line, if anybody had told an Israeli living in Palestine 75 years ago that Israel would defeat the Germans and Brits on consecutive days, they would evoke disbelief, but now at 4-0, the Israelis are for real and making a strong push to qualify for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.