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Israel to play final baseball game against Mexico

CM 31/07/2021

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The high stakes shootout, appropriately scheduled for high noon in Yokohama (6 a.m. Israel time, Sports Channel) is yet another in a long series of do-or-die situations for which Manager Eric Holtz’s  team has shown a knack in displaying heightened survival instincts.
Although  the overall framework of the six-team baseball Olympic tournament in Tokyo is a bit complex, the situation for Sunday’s game is brutally simple: the loser goes home, making a quick exit after only three games in Tokyo.
The winner is guaranteed a reset that guarantees it at least two more games and a shot at all the medals, including gold. Play continues in a knockout round over the next few days that will see the pack shrink from 5 to 4 teams, and then play for three medals.
Mexico and Israel both arrived at this point after losing their first two games, Mexico lost to the Dominican Republic 1-0 in its opener and then 7-4 to host Japan on Saturday. Israel began by dropping a 5-4 extra innings affair to Korea followed by an 8-1 loss at the hands of the USA on Friday.

Israel, which had lost its ace Jon Moscot to injury after only nine pitches, was forced to deplete its bullpen in Game 1, which left it understaffed on the mound the next day versus Team USA.
Even then, Israel showed no fear in Friday’s game, putting two men on base in two of the first three innings. However, it repeatedly failed to cash in on its chances and squandered early scoring chances, and the Americans broke through for three runs in the third inning. This lead was quickly reduced when Israel’s slugger Danny Valencia lined a shot into the left field seats in the fourth, leaving the blue and white a manageable 3-1 deficit. However, the US kept up the scoring over the second half of the game, building to the 8-1 final score.
Holtz said he saw many positive aspects in his club’s performance and vowed that his team will be ready for today’s game.
In the post-game press conference following Friday’s loss, he specifically mentioned pitchers like DJ Sharabi who shut down the Americans over two innings of relief and Shlomo Lipetz, who pitched a strong inning in his much dreamed about Olympic debut.
Lipetz drew well-deserved attention as Israel’s iconic player who has represented the nation’s baseball at every level over three decades since he began playing on youth teams.
Holtz complimented the Tel Aviv native, calling Lipetz “Israel’s Derek Jeter” who serves as a role model for Israeli kids to emulate.
Valencia, whose thunderous blast was one of several hard-hit balls over his first two games, was also pleased with his swing and extremely complimentary to his teammates’ play on offense and defense.
US manager Mike Scioscia complimented former Major League Baseball players on Israel’s team such as Valencia, Ian Kinsler and Ryan Lavarnway, saying he thought their dedication to their heritage was admirable  and their desire to build Israeli baseball was a great thing for promoting the sport internationally.
In today’s game. Holtz will hand the ball to former-Astros’ veteran right-hander Josh Zeid, who came on in Game 1 to shut down the Korean lineup over 2 and a third innings.
Speaking from the Olympic village Saturday night, Zeid told The Jerusalem Post that he was ready to go “as long as he could and as necessary.”
Lefty Jake Fishman, was typical of the entire roster when speaking with the Post about how much this opportunity meant to him to represent Israel. The Sharon, Massachusetts native spoke of additional motivators but said that when on the mound he simply clears his mind and takes the game one pitch at a time. He and his teammates are uniformly determined to play this tournament one game at a time.

Source: Jerusalem Post

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