Team Israel players seen in the dugout prior to their World Baseball Classic game against Japan in Tokyo, March 15, 2017. (Photo/JTA-Matt Roberts-Getty Images)
Team Israel players seen in the dugout prior to their World Baseball Classic game against Japan in Tokyo, March 15, 2017. (Photo/JTA-Matt Roberts-Getty Images)

Israel advances in Olympic baseball qualifiers, with Santa Rosa native on team

Israel’s national baseball team advanced to the quarterfinals of the European Baseball Championship being held in Germany, an early Olympic qualifying tournament.

Israel finished second in its pool with a record of 4-1, losing only on Wednesday to the current European champion, the Netherlands, following victories over the Czech Republic, Sweden, Germany and Great Britain.

Santa Rosa native and former Stanford University ace Gabe Cramer is on the 2019 Israeli squad as a relief pitcher. He was signed by the Kansas City Royals organization in 2015 and has been playing in the minor leagues since then. Cramer was also on the team during Israel’s sensational run in the 2017 World Baseball Classic.

Gabe Cramer of Israel's national baseball team pitched for Stanford University while he was a student there. (Photo/ Courtesy Corky Cramer)
Gabe Cramer of Israel’s national baseball team pitched for Stanford University while he was a student there. (Photo/ Courtesy Corky Cramer)

Israel will meet the France on Friday in the quarterfinals, a round-robin competition. The top five teams will advance to the World Baseball Softball Confederation Olympic Qualifier Europe-Africa tournament in Parma, Italy, which starts on Sept. 18.  The sixth team playing in that tournament will be South Africa, which won the 2019 African Baseball Championship.

The winner of the qualifier tournament will get a bid to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. The runner-up will have another opportunity to qualify for Tokyo at a future qualifying event.

The Israeli team, which is packed with Jewish-American college players and some pros, had the country’s best showing in the last World Baseball Classic in 2017, surprising many by making the main tournament, where it finished sixth.

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.

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.