The future Sacramento State pitcher spends time abroad as a member of the U.S. junior team at the Maccabiah Games.
Less than a week into his stint with Maccabi USAs baseball team, Clayton Gelfand came to a realization. It had nothing to do with baseball.
Everyone not only Jewish people should visit Israel in their lifetime, the recent Wilsonville High School graduate and future Sacramento State pitcher tweeted July 16. Such rich history.
Gelfand has had the opportunity to learn about the history of the country and its people on his trip to Israel for the 19th Maccabiah Games, which attract athletes from around the world for nearly two weeks of international competition this month.
Among the stops on his ongoing journey was Yad Vashem, a Holocaust museum and memorial site in Jerusalem. Gelfand called his visit there one of the greatest experiences of his life.
Of course, his trip might never have materialized if he werent a skilled baseball player.
Gelfand is representing the Stars and Stripes for Maccabi USA, a nonprofit organization that aims to strengthen Jewish identity through sports and other programming.
He is the only representative from Oregon on a roster coached by Nathan Fish, a former University of Cincinnati athlete who is now the director of the Israel Association of Baseball.
Gelfand and his U.S. teammates, mostly from California and New York, began their experience on the diamond with dominant victories.
They blanked Canada 12-0 in five innings July 18 at Yarkon Sports Complex near Tel Aviv thanks to a no-hitter from Florida product Ben Feinman.
In that game, Gelfand started at shortstop and logged three runs, two walks and an RBI. The U.S. scored all of its runs on just five hits.
In the first inning, after being walked, Gelfand stole second base and advanced to third on a single. He scored on a bases-loaded walk shortly thereafter. Later in the frame, he reached base after being hit by a pitch, moved to second on a single and made it to third on a wild pitch. He scored on a double to extend the U.S. lead to 10-0.
In the third inning, Gelfand took advantage of another walk. He stole second, advanced to third on a passed ball and scored on a wild pitch. A flyout to centerfield in the fourth inning wrapped up his outing at the plate.
In a game against Israel a day later, Gelfand logged one hit and scored four runs in his teams 15-1 triumph.
In the first inning, he singled, advanced to second on a groundout and scored on a double to centerfield. In the second inning, Gelfand was hit by a pitch, skipped to third on a single and scored on another hit shortly thereafter.
In the third inning, he reached on a fielders choice, advanced to second on a single, moved to third on a walk and scored on a hit by outfielder Ian McKinnon. In the fourth frame, Gelfand walked, advanced to second on another walk and reached third when McKinnon was hit by a pitch. He scored on a single by Zachary Feldman, capping a five-run inning for the U.S.
Through two games, Gelfand was batting .250 to go with a .667 on-base percentage and seven runs in nine appearances at the plate.
The Americans were scheduled to face Canada again July 22 and Israel again July 23 before entering the semifinals July 25. The gold-medal game is slated for July 26.