Sam Baker and his teammates on Team Canada have brought home the silver medal in junior baseball from the Maccabiah Games in Israel.
The Games, often coined the "Jewish Olympics" represent the world's largest faith-based sporting event. Started in 1932, the games are held every four years and attract over 7,000 athletes from as far as Argentina and South Africa to compete in over 35 disciplines, including futsal, water polo and badminton.
The 19th Maccabiah Games involved athletes from more than 70 nations and were held at different venues around Israel. In addition to the exhilarating sporting events taking place, the athletes also had the opportunity to tour sites around Israel, including the Dead Sea, as well as many of the religious and cultural sites in Jerusalem including the Western Wall.
Baker, along with Team Canada, excelled through the opening rounds of competition and secured their spot in the semifinals. The 10th-grader came on as the relief pitcher in the 11th inning during the defining game against Israel.
"It was truly an amazing moment," says Baker, who, at age 15, was the youngest player on the team. The Canadians eventually won the game 2-1 against the hosts.
"After I got (the last batter) out, we celebrated like we'd won it all," he said.
They then challenged the United States in the final and came away with the silver medal.
"Although there was some initial disappointment amongst the team that we did not win, we were all proud of how we finished," he added.
Baker currently plays with the Nanaimo Pirates in the BCPBL and hopes to attend university on a baseball scholarship in the future.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "I'm so happy I was able to be a part of it."
Jacob Burnley is a student at Dover Bay Secondary School.
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