(photo credit: Jay L. Abramoff)
Rise-Hi and the Beit Shemesh Suns each recorded a pair of victories last week to clinch byes in the first round of the amateur softball in Israel series playoffs.
Defending champion Rise-Hi is now waiting for the rest of the teams to wrap up their seasons.
Beit Shemesh faces Aztek in its final regular-season game on Tuesday.
Nefesh B'Nefesh can clinch the sixth and remaining playoff spot with a win against Applied Materials Rehovot on Wednesday.
CI and Optica International conclude their regular season campaigns against each other on Friday in a game that could determine fourth place.
Aztek, which also has games remaining against NBN and Rehovot, is currently third but could fall as low as fifth.
Rise-Hi 26, Aztek 20
Rise-Hi's Moshe Hamburg hit three-run homers in the third and seventh innings to give Rise-Hi the lead last Monday at Kibbutz Gezer. Aryeh Bauman had four hits and five RBIs; Beryl Thomas and Earl Harow had three hits apiece; and Avinoam Bernstein had three hits and drove in three runs. Pitcher Ed Harow picked up the win.
Aztek's Alan Tover had two home runs, including a grand slam.
Beit Shemesh Suns 12,Nefesh B' Nefesh 10
Chaim Wizman and Aaron Cohen both went 3-for-4 to lead Beit Shemesh over NBN last Monday. Cohen - who is averaging one home run per game this season - hit a three-run homer, while Jan Wimpfheimer, Andre Isaacson and Seth Gerson each had two hits.
Beit Shemesh Suns 33, Applied Materials 15
Beit Shemesh's Marc Chass and Aaron Cohen each hit for the cycle on Wednesday. Cohen also converted every opportunity he had at shortstop.
Mark Tobin, who made a number of leaping grabs at third base, was 4-for-6, while Seth Gerson and Michael Bramson each had four hits and four RBIs.
Moshe Schwartz, who came in for an injured Bob Silverman, had a single and scored a run.
Optica International 20, Nefesh B'Nefesh 6
Optica International snapped a three-game losing streak on Friday by scoring in every at-bat. OI's defense was much improved, a relief to starting pitcher Joel Katzin.
Kenny Zwiebel led Optica with his team-leading fourth home run of the year and a double, driving in four runs and scoring four times. Jay L. Abramoff and Zach Harvey each had three hits, and Josh Harvey and Ron Duhl both had perfect days at the plate.
After Optica opened the scoring in the top of the first with RBI hits from Duhl and Josh Harvey, Nefesh B'Nefesh came back with two runs, including a towering homer by Aaron Lazor.
OI scored all it would need in its seven-run second, highlighted by back-to-back doubles by Zwiebel and Duhl.
Rise-Hi 9, CI 6
Three runs in the bottom of the sixth inning helped lift Rise-Hi on Friday. Dani Harow started the rally by leading off with a single and Bernstein brought him in. Consecutive hits by Thomas, Hamburg and Bauman completed the scoring.
After CI had taken a 5-2 lead, Rise-Hi rallied in the fourth inning to tie the score.
Thomas had three hits and three RBIs, Hamburg finished with two hits and two RBIs, and Zvi was responsible for Rise-Hi's early runs with a first-inning double.
Ed Harow pitched a perfect seventh inning to prevent any chance of a CI rally.