May 27, 2024
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May 27, 2024
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Team Israel Impresses in Little League Qualifiers

Israel’s U12 Little League team, made up of 14 diverse young players from all over Israel, played four very well fought games in the Little League World Series Qualifiers in Kutno, Poland, before ultimately being defeated by Switzerland (9-6). The games were played by teams from seven countries. The winner of the regional round will participate in the Little League World Series played every August in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

Team Israel in Poland. (Credit: David Weiss)

Team Israel U12 Little League made it to the biggest stage in Europe and fought like lions until the last out. They shared a large bunk house with players from Switzerland and the Ukraine, becoming fast friends.

In the first game, Israel lost to a heavily favored German team. The boys in blue bounced back against Lithuania in the second game with a 3-1 victory. The big hit came off the bat of Lior Margulis, who hit a two run double in the first inning. Eitan Weiss dominated on the mound. Weiss tossed two and a third perfect innings with six strikeouts.

Tournament values on display. (Credit: David Weiss)

For the third game, Israel faced Ukraine. Down 1-0 in the fifth inning, Eitan Mandel came up with two runners on base and two outs. On a 3-2 count, Mandel singled to bring in two runs. He later came around to score on an error, as Israel won 4-2.

Finishing pool play, Israel was 2-1 and had to face a strong Swiss team. The playoff game did not get off to a good start and Israel quickly found themselves down 4-1. However, the bats woke up and team Israel came back. With another two-run hit from Margulis, and an RBI single from Amir Gura, Israel tied the game at 6-6. At the end of the third, heavy rainfall caused a two-hour delay. When play resumed, Weiss pitched a lockdown fourth as he struck out the side. Unfortunately, the powerful Swiss team pulled ahead in the fifth and Israel couldn’t mount another comeback.

Eitan Mandel and Eitan Weiss of Karnei Shomron. (Credit: David Weiss)

Shout outs to coaches David Weiss, Louie Miller and Michael Levy. Kudos to Mitch Mandel for broadcasting the games to many passionate fans in Israel and the United States.

Coach David Weiss commented: “As a father, I can’t even begin to describe how proud I am of my son Eitan Weiss (11 of Karnei Shomron, Israel). He felt the burden of representing his nation and performed well in the clutch. While I always knew Eitan was a strong catcher, I never truly realized how dominant of a pitcher he could be until he was mowing down the Lithuanian batters. Eitan struck out six of the seven batters he faced over two and a third perfect innings. Against the Swiss he threw another two and a third strong innings to allow the offense to get back into it and tie the game. After the loss, we went into center field to cry. Eitan cried over the loss and I cried out of pride.”

Eitan Weiss on the pitcher’s mound. (Credit: David Weiss)

Michael Levy, a sports psychologist who made aliyah from New York in 2021, volunteers for the team: “I went to Poland only once on Camp Ramah Seminar never thinking or having the desire to ever return. This past week I had the honor of coaching the U12 National Israel baseball team in the Little League Qualifiers for the Little League World Series.

“As a grandson Holocaust survivor and one who is named after my grandfather’s baby boy whose life was lost during that time, coaching in Poland was more than just baseball for me. It hit a very deep place in my soul. I was able to combine my Judaism (past and present), my country, and my love and passion for the game of baseball.

Team Israel and Team Ukraine-2 after Israel won. (Credit: David Weiss)

“Looking at the larger picture, I had the incredible opportunity to coach these kids and bring families together. These kids worked their butts off and fought a good fight to the last out of the tournament. Being able to have an impact on growing the game I love so much and representing my country and my people, in a country that for so long was synonymous for the worst genocide our people has seen, is and will always be one the greatest honors and achievements of my career and my life.

“It’s not about the wins and losses, although of course we want to win. It’s the bigger picture.  What it means for the state or Israel, the Jewish people and the game of baseball. It was an honor and a privilege to represent the state of Israel, and I am blessed that for this short week I was able to combine all the my true loves and passions: Israel, Judaism, our peoples’ history, bringing people together and creating a sense of community, and of course growing the game that is ingrained in me and these awesome young players: baseball.”

Practice. (Credit: David Weiss)

Coach Mike concluded: “Back to work for next year! The will to win and competitive spirit never dies! This is bigger than baseball.”

Go Team Israel! 2024 is just around the corner.

David Weiss made Aliyah in 2008 from NYC. He works in hi-tech and lives with his wife and 4 sons in Karnei Shomron.  Debbie Aschheim Weiss, his mother, made Aliyah with his father, Robert Weiss, MD, on July 13, 2023.

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