After a hard fought tournament where the tide seemed to be going Israel’s way, the senior national baseball team eventually had to settle for third place in last week’s B-Pool European Championship tournament in Vienna, Austria.
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The team started the week in excellent form, with wins against Belarus, Poland and host Austria – including an exciting walk-off grand slam in the game against Poland by slugger Eitan Maoz. However, it then lost its final two games to Lithuania and Sweden – 5-7 and 8-9, respectively – eliminating them from a spot in the final game played last Saturday between Austria and Sweden.
In its deciding game against Sweden, Israel was ahead the whole game, but a strong rally at the top of the ninth saw Sweden scoring 5 runs. A comeback rally by Israel at the bottom of the ninth brought three runs, leaving Israel one run short of the tie. The team was unable to bring in its winning run, which was at the plate, leaving Sweden to play the championship game against Austria.
Sweden won the decider and will now move up to the 2016 A-Pool, alongside the top teams in Europe. Poland moves down to the C-Pool.
Israeli pitcher Dean Kremer won the award for best pitcher in the tournament.
“This was a very tough loss for us,” said team general manager and Israel Association of Baseball president Peter Kurz. “We had a great team. The guys played well. We just came up a little short. It’s an honor to get the third place trophy, but we’re at a point now with our program where we prepare to win championships and anything less is disappointing. It’s time now to thank our hosts, wish Sweden luck, and look to the future.”
Israel will remain in the B-Pool and make a further bid to move to the A-Pool in the summer of 2017.