After defeating the Bet Shemesh Suns 21-6 in the semifinals, Philip Stein’s Sox won Game 1 of The Jerusalem Softball League finals, beating Optical International 13-6 at Kibbutz Gezer.
OI – the two-time reigning champion – had breezed past PA -Ginot Shomron 21-4 in the semis to advance to the finals for the third straight year. They were once again by loyal sponsor Yechezkel Stzrigler, who has sponsored the team for 10 years running, and feature the dangerous Schwartz brothers – Yoni and Akiva – vaunted slugger Aaron Katsman and ageless pitcher Danny Gewirtz.
The Sox spotted OI a run in the top of the first inning before answering in their half when Sammy Tover hit a tworun blast over the fence in right field for a 2-1 lead.
OI tied the score in the top of the second inning, but the Sox scored three runs in the bottom of the second and tacked on three more in the third inning to take an 8-2 lead.
However, OI rallied with four two-out runs to cut their deficit to 8-6 while shutting down the Sox’s offense in both the fourth and fifth frames.
A pivotal moment in the contest came when OI failed to score in the top of the sixth inning as Sox centerfielder Ariel Gilor made a great catch sliding on a deeply hit ball to keep an OI baserunner stranded.
The Sox finally reopened the gap by scoring five runs in the bottom of the sixth inning, as five of the first six batters reached base. Seth Gerson’s bases-loaded two-run single was the key hit in the inning, allowing the second-year franchise to coast to the victory.
The Sox are now one win away from their first JPost league title. Game 2 of the bestof- three series is set for Tuesday night at Gezer, with a potential rubber match slated for Sunday should OI manage to knot things up.