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BLOG FROM ABROAD

Former Boca Ciega standout Ben Pincus is playing in the Israel Baseball League, which is making its debut this season. Pincus will write about the experience of playing baseball overseas each week. Here is an excerpt. For the rest, check out blogs.tampabay.com/preps/.

Life is good. Last time I wrote, the Blue Sox had fallen on hard times. We were not playing well and the teams behind us were. Now the tables have turned. We have won five in a row and seven of our past eight. We have a 21/2-game lead in first place with about 15 games to go until the playoffs. The championship is far from in the bag, but I like our chances much better right now.

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We had the All-Star break last week. As I had not made the team, two of my friends from other teams and I decided to take a trip to the one of the southernmost points of Israel, Eilat. Getting out of the car after the five-hour drive I was hit with a wave of heat like I have never experienced. In Eliot, it is not uncommon for it to be over 110 degrees - at night.

I had planned to stay in Eilat for two days, then go to Jerusalem for a day then back to Tel Aviv. However, midway through our second day in Eilat, I got a very interesting phone call. One of the pitchers on the All-Star team could not throw in the game and the managers recommended me to replace him.

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(At the game,) all the players sat together, taking pictures and using video cameras. It felt just like the Major League All-Star Game, minus a few things here and there. After the home run derby, the coaches went through the lineup. I was throwing the sixth inning.

The first four innings I was really nervous. I had thrown 107 pitches on Friday and it was only Sunday, and my arm is not as resilient as it used to be. However, once I started stretching and throwing in the bullpen I felt relatively calm and I was ready to face a lineup of the best hitters in this league.

It went pretty well. One inning, no hits, one walk, one strikeout and one big sense of relief. After that I just enjoyed the game, which we won 6-5. It was an incredible experience that all the arm pain in the world could never tarnish.

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