Members of Team Israel react with dismay as a player from the Dominican Republic hits a game-winning single (Photo/Yuichi Masuda-Getty Images)
Members of Team Israel react with dismay as a player from the Dominican Republic hits a game-winning single (Photo/Yuichi Masuda-Getty Images)

Team Israel’s Olympic baseball hopes ends after 9th-inning loss

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Israel’s improbable quest for an Olympic medal in baseball ended Aug. 3 after the team, which features several former Major League ballplayers, fell in a close match to the Dominican Republic.

Israel led 6-5 going into the ninth inning, but a home run followed by a string of singles propelled the Dominican Republic to a final score of 7-6. The loss means that Israel will leave Tokyo with just one win out of five games, a poor showing in what many had hoped would be a breakout year for Israeli baseball.

baseball player throwing a baseball
Joey Wagman during a Team Israel win over South Africa in a 2019 Olympic qualifier. (Photo/Margo Sugarman-Israel Association of Baseball)

The Associated Press had predicted that Team Israel would win a bronze medal. Instead, the team lost to Korea and the U.S. in opening-round games, defeated Mexico in the first round of competition, and then lost to Korea again in round two before facing the Dominican Republic.

The team made up of both Israeli ballplayers and American Jews, including two from the Bay Area. Joey Wagman of Danville was one of two Bay Area pitchers on the Israeli baseball squad; the other is right-hander DJ Sharabi of Burlingame.

Ian Kinsler, the team’s only former All-Star, said before the Olympics that his goal in playing for Team Israel was to increase the profile of baseball in Israel.

“It’s exciting to think about all that,” he said.

And Wagman, also speaking before the competition, also reiterated that just being part of the experience was something special and “surreal.”

“Being able to wear Israel across my chest — it’s a huge honor,” he said.

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.

Philissa Cramer
Philissa Cramer

Philissa Cramer is editor in chief of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency.