Guy Stevens
Israel’s starting pitcher Guy Stevens. Photo by Sarah Gopher
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Aeden McQueary-Ennis fanned 15 batters in seven innings, and Israel's late rally fell short as Britain prevailed 8-6 last night in a meeting between the favorites of the European Championship qualifier at Baptist Village.

Britain now leads the group stage. The two will likely meet Friday in the finale, when Israel would have to win twice to advance to next year's championship.

Britain picked up runs in the opening two frames before Noam Markose homered in the third to cut its lead to 2-1. Israel starter Guy Stevens settled down until the sixth, when he got roughed up for three runs.

After Christopher Falls walked and advanced to second on a groundout, he scored on Bradley Marcelino's single to center.

Aaron Hornostaj followed with a single and stole second before McQueary-Ennis batted both him and Marcelino in to end Stevens' evening and give Britain a 5-1 lead.

Israel threatened in the seventh, as Dan Rothem reached first on a throwing error and moved to third on Orr Gottleib's double. But McQueary-Ennis extricated himself by striking out Guy Peled and Markose in succession. Britain answered with three more runs in the bottom of the frame.

Reliever Stephen Spragg hit two Israelis and walked another three in a two-out rally capped by Noam Markose's two-RBI single against Michael Johnson. But Weiss grounded out to end the comeback bid and Johnson pitched a scoreless ninth to seal the victory.

Matters went much better for Israel the previous evening, when it ransacked Georgia 11-1. Shlomo Lipitz, Israel's New York-based Sabra pitcher, yielded just one hit after a shaky first inning for the victory.

Israel only registered five base hits but benefitted from 16 walks.

Lipitz yielded two hits and an unearned run to start the game but induced Levani Gobedjishvili to pop out to first to get out of the jam.

Israel's Josh Weiss tied the game up in the bottom of the frame by walking, stealing second, advancing to third on a balk and reaching home on an error.

That episode characterized Georgia's lack of ball control. Israel added two in the second and one in the fourth before bunching four hits in the sixth to add five runs and break the game open. The game was called after seven innings because of the slaughter rule.