Israeli national baseball team qualifies for Tokyo 2020
BarnBurner Sports Writer
Sunday, September 22, 2019
Photos courtesy of Israel Association of Baseball
By Eduardo Harari
TORONTO. - In a unfamiliar stage for a baseball Olympic qualifying match, Parma served as great backdrop to the 11-1 devastating victory of Israel over South Africa which places them into the six nation tournament in Tokyo next summer.
Israel's team beat South Africa in the qualifying tournament of European and African Nations. The Israelis are the first team to qualify besides the host nation that gets a bye into the tournament.
Although the major damage came in the eight inning, South Africa's chances at qualifying were consumed in the second when Jared Elario loaded the bases on two walks and a hits batsman that send him to the showers early. In came Garth Cahill to surender a walk and a single that gave Israel a 4-0 lead.
Israel didn't have an easy trajectory to the Europe / Africa qualifier as on their way they had to dispose of the current European Champions France.
This is a team fortified by Jewish-American college and professional players, whose best showing was at the last World Baseball Classic in 2017 were it finished sixth.
The last time an Israeli team qualified for a ball event at the Olympics was in 1976, when a soccer team competed in Montreal, Canada.
While the World Baseball Classic only requires that players be eligible for citizenship of the country they represent, for Olympic qualifying tournaments and for the actual Olympics, players must be citizens of the country they represent. The majority of the national team players are Jewish Americans who received citizenship in order to play or Israelis who live in the United States. Among the former pros on the squad are Danny Valencia, 34, and Jeremy Wolf, 25.