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Game 2 hero Eitan Maoz

By Scott Barancik, editor

Israel’s senior national baseball team crushed its “C pool” competition in last year’s European Championship qualifiers. Now it’s cruising through the “B pool” qualifying tournamentwhich began Monday (7/27/2015) in Vienna and includes national teams from Austria, Belarus, Lithuania, Poland and Sweden.

In Game 1, Israel defeated Belarus 13-1 on 13 hits (including home runs by CF Aric Weinberg and 1B Simon Rosenbaum) and the pitching of starter Dean Kremer, who recently became the first Israeli citizen to be drafted by an MLB team. (Not coincidentally, Rosenbaum and Kremer were named tournament MVP and best pitcher, respectively, at last year’s “C pool” qualifiers.)

Game 2 was far more dramatic. Facing its first possible tournament loss, Israel trailed Poland 6-4 in the bottom of the 9th inning, but three singles loaded the bases for C Eitan Maoz, who stroked a walk-off grand slam HR for an 8-6 win.

Israel returned to safer territory in Game 3 with a 10-1 victory over host Austria. Maoz again led the offense, this time with four singles and an RBI in six at-bats. Shlomo Lipetz delivered a complete-game gem, yielding just 5 hits while striking out 8.

Israel faces Lithuania later today (7/30/2015) and Sweden on Friday (7/31/2015). The championship game will take place Saturday (8/1/2015).

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