Israel’s national baseball team, which made history this summer by taking part in the Tokyo Olympics, won a silver medal Sunday in the European Championships, losing 4-9 to the Netherlands in the final.
Only a handful of the predominantly American Olympic team members also competed in the European Championships. The majority of the current team players are Israelis who learned the game locally.
It is the first time Israel is on the podium in the tournament, and only the second time the Jewish state competed in the uppermost tier.
Meanwhile, it was the 24th win for the strong Dutch team in the tournament.
Israel, which guaranteed itself a surprise place on the podium with an 11-5 win over host Italy in the semifinal on Friday, seemed poised to score a major upset in the final as well, leading 4-1 in the sixth inning.
But the momentum completely shifted in the last portion of the game in Turin, with the Dutch offense proving too strong to handle.
Congratulations to the Netherlands @HonkbalSoftbal on a great game and defending the European title. We will wear our silver medals with pride! ????????⚾️???? #eurobaseball21 #blueandwhite_baseball pic.twitter.com/4cix4n3APK
— Israel Baseball (@ILBaseball) September 19, 2021
Two years ago, Israel narrowly missed out on a podium spot, coming fourth after losing the bronze medal match to Spain.
Team Israel failed to medal in the Tokyo Olympics, finishing fifth with a squad of nearly all Americans, including former major league All-Star Ian Kinsler. Some had predicted that Israel, making its Olympics debut, would finish in the top 3 of the six-team field.
The outcome caused Eric Holtz, the team’s coach over the previous four years, to step down from his post last month. He was replaced by Nate Fish.