Two former UC San Diego baseball players will be part of the Israeli national team at the Olympics in Tokyo.
Right-handed pitchers Shlomo Lipetz and Alon Leichman made the 44-player expanded roster, then made the cut as part of the 24-man traveling team.
Israel plays in Group B at the Olympics, along with the U.S. The team takes on South Korea at 3 a.m. PST Thursday, then the U.S. at 3 a.m. Friday.
UC San Diego baseball Eric Newman called the pitchers “great ambassadors for the sport of baseball, their country and our program at UC San Diego.”
Lipetz, the second Israeli ever to play college baseball, attended San Diego Mesa College following his service in the Israeli Defense Forces. Upon transferring to UC San Diego in 2004, he led the staff with a 5-0 record, posting an ERA of 2.84 with three saves.
Following graduation, he continued to play baseball with semipro teams in New York, and overseas. With Team Israel, he made appearances in the 2008, 2011, 2014, and 2015 European Championship Qualifiers.
Leichman was the second-youngest player to compete in the 2007 Israel Baseball League, and in 2008, he became the first Israeli to participate in the MLB European Academy.
He has represented Team Israel as a pitcher and designated hitter at various events and competitions, including the World Baseball Classic in 2013.
After three years at Cypress College, Leichman transferred to UC San Diego. As a junior, he started 12 games, enjoying a record of 7-2 with a 3.71 ERA and 37 Ks.
In 2016, his senior season, Leichman helped pave the way for a come-from-behind, walk-off win in the California Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) Championship.
In addition to his playing career, Leichman has also spent time coaching. He was a bullpen coach for Team Israel in the 2017 World Baseball Classic Qualifiers, and most recently, he served as pitching coach for the Arkansas Travelers – the AA affiliate of the Seattle Mariners.
The Triton duo helped clinch Israel’s first Olympic berth in September 2019 in an 8-1 defeat of the Netherlands at the WBSC Baseball Europe/Africa Olympic Qualifier in Italy. They began training for the games in Arizona in May.