By Scott Barancik, Editor

After finishing 4th in the 12-team European Championship in Germany last week, the Israeli baseball team is moving on to Italy.

Starting today (9/18/2019), Israel will compete with five other countries — Netherlands, Italy, Czech Republic, South Africa and Spain — for the right to represent Europe and Africa at the 2020 Olympic games in Tokyo. Only one team will make it.

Israel takes on Spain this afternoon in Game 1. Click here to watch the game live, or here to see the box score.

To get to Italy, Israel had to finish among the top 5 teams in its first-ever trip to the European Championship. After winning its first four games there, the team lost three of four to finish 5-3 overall and #4 among the 12 competitors.

Joey Wagman led all pitchers in the Championship series with a 0.00 ERA over 10.2 innings. Los Angeles Angels prospect Blake Gailen and former MLB’er Danny Valencia each hit 4 HRs over the series.

If Israel is to conquer the five-day Olympic qualifiers, it will have to do better against the top European teams than it did in the Championship tournament. Israel’s three losses came against #1 Netherlands, #2 Italy, and #3 Spain.

Either way, it’s an impressive and unprecedented step for Israel and its fledgling baseball program, which until this year had never even reached the European Championship.

Representatives from all six teams in the Europe Africa Qualifying tourney for the 2020 Olympics pose together. Included are Israel manager Eric Holtz (rear, second from left) and infielder Mitch Glasser (in front of Holtz)

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