(TIMES OF ISRAEL) – “We were hoping to finish in the top four, but sixth out of 16 isn’t bad,” said Peter Kurz, general manager of Israel’s National Baseball team, following the 2023 European Baseball Championship in Czechia from September 23 to October 1.
The biennial tournament this time coincided with Yom Kippur, and the organisers scheduled Israel’s games for just before, and after, the Jewish Day of Atonement to accommodate the needs of the players who fasted, which amounted to about half of the squad.
After smashing Switzerland 14-1 in a strong start, Team Israel had a tough 2-0 loss to Germany in a night game after Yom Kippur.
The team went on to beat Belgium 11-8 the next day, securing their place in the quarter-finals.
They then lost badly to the Netherlands, 12-2, before defeating Sweden 6-4.
Israel’s final game in the tournament was a 5-1 loss against the Czech hosts, leaving them in sixth place.
In the final games held on October 1, Spain clinched the gold medal with a 11-2 win over Great Britain, who received silver.
The Netherlands beat Germany 5-4 in a 10-inning game to secure the bronze.
Two years ago, Israel won silver in the tournament in Turin, Italy, and in 2021 they competed in the Tokyo Olympic Games.
At the Olympics, Israel’s squad only had three Israeli natives, with the remainder of the players being Jewish Americans.
But last week in Czechia, there were nine Israeli-born players in a 24-man squad, including several promising players promoted from Israel’s youth national squad.
In a boost to Israeli baseball, the Jewish State is set to host the next Euros in 2025, on condition it builds two new world-standard baseball fields.