In one of the best championship games played in recent memory, Optica International defeated the Morningside Warriors 17-13 to win the 2012 Jerusalem Softball league title on Wednesday night at Kibbutz Gezer.

There were four lead changes and two tie scores during the back-and-forth contest before OI broke out in the top of the seventh with an eight-run barrage and cruised to its first-ever championship.

The underdog OI team was once again paced by the red-hot Yoni Schwartz (Playoff MVP), who hit his seventh postseason HR, a huge three-run blast to put OI up by five in the final frame.

They would go on to score three more runs in the inning to give them the cushion they would need to secure the victory and kick off the celebrations.

“It was just a great game to be part of,” exclaimed a jubilant pitcher Danny Gewirtz after the game.

“We picked a perfect time to play our best game of the year and we needed to against a very tough MW squad,” added the 51-yearold pitcher as he celebrated along with his son Yair, who went 4-for-6, stole three bases and scored three runs.

The Warriors hit four home runs on the night – a two-run shot in the first inning by slugger Nossie Jacobovitch, a dramatic blast in the fifth by Chaim Schon that tied the game and a pair of two-run homers by Yanky Itzkowitz and Simon Pack, respectively, in a last-gasp comeback attempt.

But the team was ultimately doomed by just many errors in the field. At the plate, the Warriors stranded 10 men on base and could only muster five runs beyond their homers.

OI, in contrast, was solid in the field and got timely hits when they needed them.

The Warriors have had the best record in the league two years running, and hadn’t lost two games in a row over this entire period.

“It’s heartbreaking, really, because we had such an amazing season and the championship was there for the taking,” said Morningside Manager Aron Heller.

“We were the best regular season team in the league this season but at the end of the day, in a three-game series, we were just beat by a better team. It’s that simple.”

Schon, Itzkowitz and Pack each has three hits for the Warriors. Schon led the way, driving in four runs, scoring three and making a spectacular grab in center over the fence that robbed OI slugger Aaron Lazor of a sure home run.

Other hitting stars for OI included Naftali Schwartz, Yedidya Rausman, Aaron Katsman and Lazor, who all had three hits apiece. Rausman also had a trio of RBI’s and scored three times.

It was certainly a Cinderella season for OI who were not expected to contend for the title but kept peaking at the right time and somehow came back from one game down to win the next two against the heavily favored MW.

For Rausman, Katsman and Lazor, it was their first championship after many years in the league. With all of their core players slated to return next season, OI will be looking to add to its first-ever JSL title.

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