Boulders host Team Israel in long-awaited exhibition baseball game before Olympics – The Journal News

Posted By on July 13, 2021

Team Israel plays NY Boulders in tune-up for olympics

After a rain delay, the New York Boulders played Team Israel in a baseball exhibition game at Palisades Credit Union Park in Pomona July 12, 2021. Team Israel is preparing to play in the Tokyo Olympics.

Peter Carr, Rockland/Westchester Journal News

The rain came and went, but nothing was stopping Team Israel's pre-Olympic tune-up parade through the east coast in preparation for the 2021 Summer Games later this month.

After making a stop in Brooklyn, Team Israel swung north to Palisades Credit Union Park for an exhibition game with the New York Boulders on Monday night.

"Hats off to everybody here getting this done, it's unbelievable," White Plains native and Team Israel manager Eric Holtz said. "Great to get our work in. That's really what we need right now, just getting our work in and let our pitchers throw. Let our guys see some live at-bats and get everybody out of here healthy."

Both teams patiently waited through the two-hour rain delay before the game began, and much of the 5,000-person crowd stuck around for the first pitch while many more cars were still filing into packed parking lots.

"There was a great turnout, despite terrible rain conditions and storm warnings,"Frontier League deputy commissioner Steve Tahsler said. "There's a tremendous following and interest level, so the fact that Team Israel picked the New York Boulders, a Frontier League team, to prepare for the Olympics is really just a great honor for us, and we're excited and proud to be able to host them and help them train.

"What was most amazing was an hour after the game was supposed to start, there were still cars coming in the parking lot. That just shows the dedication and passion of the people that wanted to see this game."

Spectators arrived with Israel and American flags, and fans surrounded the locker room entrance with hopes for autographs or to catch a glimpse of Team Israel and New York Boulders players before they took the field.

The game had added meaning for local players like Jonathan de Marte, a Yorktown native and pitcher for Team Israel, and teammate Zach Penprase.

More: New York Boulders: Scoreboard and game results for 2021 season

The 28-year old pitcher was a two-time Gatorade New York Player of the Year at Lakeland High School in 2010 and 2011 and was excited to be able to be back in the local area.

The two teams were originally scheduled to play an exhibition game last summer, but the COVID-19 pandemic scrapped those plans and the Boulders' 2020 season.

With baseball back at Palisades Credit Union Park and the Frontier League's season back in full swing, both sides were able to reconvene before Team Israel flies out to Tokyo.

"It means a lot to me, because I grew up not too far away from here, so I have a lot of family and friends that came out," de Marte said. "I'm not pitching tonight, and it's still amazing to see so many people that came out to see us play. Obviously, we're excited for the Olympics, but today means a lot."

There was also a pre-game ceremony to memorialize the Munich 11, in which 11 members of Israel's Olympic team were killed during the 1972 Munich Olympics.

The Boulders presented Team Israel with a plaque of friendship and solidarity, and held a moment of silence in remembrance of the tragic event.

Come game time, Team Israel trounced the Boulders with a five-run outing during the top of the third to break a 1-1 stalemate. Team Israel ended up winning, 7-1, in a shortened five-inning contest.

The Boulders return to action with a three-game mid-week series with Quebec.

Meanwhile, Team Israel's 10-day tour will continue onto Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Maryland, then back to New York in Long Island, before they fly out to Tokyo.

It's been a long wait for Team Israel, who punched its ticket to the Tokyo Olympics back in 2019, when it won the European baseball championship in Italy.

After the COVID-19 pandemic suspended sports throughout 2020 and amid the uncertainty as restrictions gradually eased up in 2021, the countdown is back on. Holtz and his crew are excited for their trip.

"We're kind of where we want to be, and every day we'll push a little bit more," Holtz said. "The last two years, with COVID, nobody thought this was going to happen. Keeping everybody together mentally and emotionally was probably the biggest thing, and we'll be ready if that day comes. Lucky for us, that day is almost here, and we're ready to go."

Follow Eugene Rapay on Twitter at@erapay5and on Instagram at @byeugenerapay.

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Boulders host Team Israel in long-awaited exhibition baseball game before Olympics - The Journal News

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