By Matthew Tallarini
World Baseball Network
The 19th-ranked Israel national team announced their roster for the 2023 European Championships, which will be held in the Czech Republic from September 24 to October 1.
The relegation and placement rounds will be from September 28-30. The gold medal and bronze medal games will be on October 1.
The 2023 European Championships will have six venues during the international senior event: Eagles Prague in Prague, Arrows Park Ostrava in Ostrava-Poruba, BrnoField in Brno, Třebíč Na Hvězdě in Třebíč, YD Baseball Arena Brno in Brno, and Strawberry Field Blansko in Blansko will be the host sites.
There will be four groups listed during the European Championships for the participating countries. Group A: Austria, host nation Czech Republic, Spain, and Greece. Group B: Hungary, Italy, Great Britain, and Sweden. Group C: The Netherlands, Ukraine, Croatia, and France. Group D: Belgium, Germany, Israel, and Switzerland.
Israel manager Nate Fish will take over duties at the 2023 European Championships and was the bullpen coach during the 2023 World Baseball Classic.
World Baseball Network had the chance to communicate with Israel General Manager Peter Kurz on WhatsApp about building the roster for the 2023 European Championships along with Fish being at the helm in the Czech Republic.
“I’m thrilled Fish is our manager and I have known him for about 14 years when he played in the Israel Baseball League,” Israel General Manager Peter Kurz told World Baseball Network via WhatsApp on Friday. “I personally recruited him to be the executive director of our organization where he was there for three years living in Israel and I was very happy and the staff was very happy with the way he developed and improved Israel Baseball and really pushed in the right direction that the program is today.”
Israel pitcher Josh Zeid, who threw for the team at the 2023 World Baseball Classic, will serve as pitching coach and play at the 2023 European Championships.
Israel players that played in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, including team captain Ryan Lavarnway, Ty Kelly, Shlomo Lipetz, Alex Katz, and Jake Fishman, are returning on the active roster for the event.
Israel won one game during the 2023 World Baseball Classic, beating Nicaragua 3-1 in Pool D at loanDepot Park in Miami, and they will not have to qualify for the next World Baseball Classic in 2026.
Israel was one of the five nations in the World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe sector that participated in the 2023 World Baseball Classic, along with the Czech Republic, Italy, Great Britain, and the Netherlands.
“Obviously, five teams staying in the World Baseball Classic in 2026 is quite an accomplishment. I’m very proud and happy for those other teams, but I’m also proud from our team… I think there is a great improvement on the Israeli level of the top Israeli teams,” Kurz told World Baseball Network. “You can see it in our accomplishments, placing silver in the 2021 European Championships and then a month before playing in the Summer Olympics, those are certainly great accomplishments for Israel, we look forward to more and better accomplishments in the future.”
Israel has participated in the European Championships three times and lost to the Netherlands in the gold medal game during the 2021 tournament.
Israel won all three games in Pool A of the 2017 World Baseball Classic beating baseball powerhouses South Korea, Chinese Taipei, and the Netherlands to advance to the second pool round. Israel’s Cinderella run came to a close when they lost to Japan in the final game of the second round.
Israel qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics in Parma, Italy under former manager Eric Holtz at the World Baseball Softball Confederation Europe/Africa Qualifiers beating South Africa 11-1 in seven innings due to the mercy rule in September of 2019 before the COVID-19 Pandemic pushed back the 2020 Summer Olympics.
In the 2020 Olympics under Holtz, Israel appeared in the six-team field and won just one game against Mexico at Yokohama Stadium.
Israel has built their roster for the 2023 European Championships with players that hold an Israeli passport, are eligible to obtain permanent legal residence or citizenship, or have a parent who is Israeli for the 2023 European Championships. The team features players who are free agents, independent league players in the United States, former MLB players, players with experience playing in professional leagues in Europe, and recent collegiate players for the 2023 European Championships.
“I think that the talent is getting to be much much better. I know that it’s much much better from Israel, the high level talent and I think it’s much much better from the rest of the continent,” Kurz said.”
The WBSC Europe website and social media pages will have all the listed information on streaming the European Championships on their YouTube and Facebook page.
Israel 2023 European Championships Pool Round Schedule
Monday September 24, 2023
5 a.m. EDT – Switzerland vs. Israel – Eagles Prague, Prague
Tuesday September 25, 2023
2 p.m. EDT – Israel vs. Germany – Eagles Prague, Prague
Wednesday September 26, 2023
5 a.m. EDT – Belgium vs. Israel – Eagles Prague, Prague
Israel National Team 2023 European Championship Roster
* – Denotes Player/Coach
2023 Israel National Team European Championship Coaching Staff
Nate Fish – Manager
Alex Jacobs – Bench Coach
Josh Zeid – Pitching Coach
Mitch Glasser – Hitting Coach/Third Base Coach
Richard Kania – First Base Coach