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Israel squeezes past Czech Republic into baseball semi-finals

CM 16/09/2021


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Hours after the shofar blew ending Yom Kippur, Team Israel made an inspired comeback to record an exciting 3-2 walk-off victory against the Czech Republic in the first game of the European Baseball Championships final round in Italy. Starter Joey Wagman once again pitched brilliantly, striking out 10 while yielding only three hits and one earned run over seven innings. Wagman stayed in the game to play left field after tiring on the mound. This move brought him to the plate for two consecutive clutch at-bats in which he delivered the tying and winning runs with RBI singles.
The game was a tight pitcher’s duel, like the last time the teams met in 2019 when Israel upset the favored Czechs by breaking open a 1-1 tie to pull off a surprise win, which the Czechs had hoped to avenge tonight.
This time, Israel got on the board first after Tal Erel walked and moved to third on yet another Ty Kelly double (his third in two games). Mitch Glasser (who remains Israel’s leading hitter with a .500 average for the tournament) brought Erel home with a sharp groundout, giving the Blue and White an early 1-0 lead.

The Czech bounced back in their very next at-bat, taking advantage of a questionable call on a Hit-By-Pitch and an Israeli miscue in the field that brought home the tying run and put the go-ahead run in scoring position. However, Wagman remained cool and simply bore down and retired the side.
Wagman continued to put up zeroes until Czech slugger Chlup Marek led off the seventh with a tremendous home run into the warm Italian night. While Marek has been hitting .615 for the tournament and had gone deep the day before, Wagman didn’t back down, saying, “I threw him my best pitch and he got all of it”.

Reliever Benny Wanger got his second win after coming in from first base. Both he and Wagman have a combined .428 batting average and allowed just 2 earned runs in 23 innings for the tournament (credit: ISRAEL ASSOCIATION OF BASEBALL/ COURTESY)Reliever Benny Wanger got his second win after coming in from first base. Both he and Wagman have a combined .428 batting average and allowed just 2 earned runs in 23 innings for the tournament (credit: ISRAEL ASSOCIATION OF BASEBALL/ COURTESY)

Israel got the run right back in the bottom of the inning thanks to the aggressive play of its youngest players. College junior Jordan Pertrushka led off the inning by smashing a single to left. IDF soldier Itai Goldner followed with a hard-hit grounder that the Czech third baseman couldn’t handle as he and Petrushka took second and third.  At this point Manager Nate Fish pulled a line-up-card magic trick by having Wagman, who was done throwing, replace the DH who had been hitting for him until now.  Fish had meticulously game-planned for this possibility and the Umpires agreed that the move was Kosher. Wagman then laid down a perfect bunt, bringing home Petrushka to tie the game.
First baseman Benny Wanger took over for Wagman on the mound and held the Republic in check for the eighth and ninth innings, setting up a 9th inning walk-off opportunity for Israel. With two outs, Itai Goldner ripped a single towards center that second baseman Hautmar Jakub acrobatically stopped yet errantly threw past first, allowing Goldner to reach second. Wagman came up again, thinking only about helping the team. “I was looking for a fastball to drive but got four straight change-ups.” Wagman then atoned for his earlier sin against Marek and lined the next pitch to right-center. Goldner too atoned for an earlier base-running mistake by racing home ahead of the throw with the winning run.    
Wagman’s seven sterling innings and 2 for 2 at the plate with 2 RBIs were touted as one of the greatest individual performances in Israeli baseball history, but the soft-spoken hurler preferred to see this as simply doing whatever he could to help the team win a crucial game. Wanger who pitched superbly again was credited with the win for the second time in 4 games.
“I am proud of the guys,” Manager Nate Fish said. “It was a close game against a good team and we just kept going until we found a way to win.
Israel will take on host Italy, led by Manager Mike Piazza in the semi-finals on Friday night at 9:30 PM.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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CM

The host of Coffee Mouth Scare Crow Show and CEO of 452 Impact, Inc. Here is food for thought. Romans 6:23 "For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord." John 3:16 "For God so love ed the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall be saved."

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