(photo credit: )
After a heartbreaking loss to the Mean Judeans last week, Penticon came into Game 2 looking to even the series and did so handily.
Pitcher Ami Baran, who missed the first game, shined on the mound and with the glove for Penticon on the way to a 5-2 win Sunday night that forced a third-and-deciding game on Tuesday night at the Baptist Village in Petah Tikvah.
"His pitching and a solid defense won the game," men's national team coach Richard Duffy said. "Offense is good but it's defense that wins games. The second baseman and the outfield were outstanding."
Both teams came out ready to fight with the Mean Judeans bringing in three busloads of friends and family from Dimona to cheer on their side. They brought with them drums and pom-poms and cheered loudly from the warm-ups.
"Absolutely we are going to win tonight," a confident Bat-el Bat-Yisroel, wife of Horalio ben Yehuda, said. "My next door neighbor is playing - everyone knows each other in the whole community. If we do lose tonight we will be back here again on Tuesday cheering."
That will have to be the case, as Penticon, despite only attracting 20 or so fans, was undeterred.
The Mean Judeans went three up, three down in the top of the first and Penticon came back swinging in the bottom of the inning, scoring three runs.
In the third, Baran made his only slip-up of the game, throwing a wild pitch that started a two-run rally for the Judeans. The comeback was halted as a Yarone fly ball hit was caught in center field for the third out, leaving Elyaeed stranded on base.
In the bottom of the fourth, third baseman Natanel Levenson singled and advanced to second and then third base on two wild pitches by Yarone. Levenson scored on a Ben Fleitman ground ball to make it score 4-2.
The Mean Judeans got a bit of momentum in the sixth, with Yarone bunting his way aboard before Ahkazyah drew a walk. But Yehudah grounded out to first and Ovade made out to end the threat.
Dan Marcus replaced Brian Aron in the bottom of the sixth, which proved to be a very good move. Marcus hit a triple into left field and then scored on the next play when the right fielder dropped Sam Goldberg's pop-up, putting Goldberg on second and giving Penticon a commanding 5-2 lead late in the game.
The Judean fans were on their feet dancing and chanting "that's alright that's ok we're gonna win it anyway," as Baran took the mound for the top of the seventh. But Ben Koliyah flied out to center, and though N. Emmanuel hit a line-drive single and was replaced by pinch runner Yohanatan, the Mean Judeans would get no further.
Mean Judean fans were a bit despondent at the loss but shouted out "the championship is ours!" as Penticon walked back to the bench.
"Goose" Gillett, the league's secretary general; the coach and pitcher for the Tigers; and the game's umpire, said before the first pitch that "it's always an intense game" when the Mean Judeans play and on his way off the field after it was over he concluded "that was rough."
In the dugout, the Penticon players congratulated each other and were looking forward to Tuesday's championship game.
"We did expect to win but we knew it would be tough," said Hirsch. "We feel good and we are going to take it on Tuesday."
Despite his confidence, Hirsch remained humble when speaking of his opponents. "[The Mean Judeans] can always come out and play. It's not over until the fat lady sings."