(photo credit: )
In a rematch of last year's final, which ended in a tie, Rehovot "A" defeated the Mercaz All-Stars 17-9 to take the Rehovot Hanukka Youth Softball Tournament last week.
Eilat edged Bika'at Beit Shean (BBS) 3-0 for third place, and Rehovot "B" took fifth with a 25-0 white-washing of a raw Misgav team.
Player/coach Moshe Hyde of the Mercaz team was named tournament MVP.
This year's tournament featured six teams for the first time, including the Misgav team, which included many players who have been playing only six months and were participating in their first competitive games. Their participation allowed the Rehovot Softball League (RSL), which features eight teams, to dip deep into its pool of players to form a "B" team.
Rehovot "A" finished the round-robin stage with a 4-0-1 record, followed by Mercaz (4-1-0), Eilat (3-1-1), BBS (2-3-0), Rehovot "B" (1-4-0) and Misgav (0-5-0).
In a 12-12 tie between Rehovot "A" and Eilat, Rehovot's Albert Sarkovitz hit a grand slam that tied the game at 11 and then he threw out a runner from third base to end the game with bases loaded and two outs.
Mercaz defeated Eilat 5-4 in a night game in which Golan Halley made a spectacular sliding catch and fireballer Boris Yegudayev and junkballer Hyde matched each other pitch for pitch.
Down 5-2, BBS scored five runs in the fifth inning, capped by Dima Lusov's monstrous two-run homer and then held off a furious Rehovot "B" comeback, with shortstop Eyal Zara leaping to snare a line drive off the bat of Eden Bir to end the game with runners on second and third and the score 9-7.
In the semifinals, Rehovot "A" bested BBS 16-10 and Mercaz downed Eilat 13-6.
In the finals, Mercaz held a 5-4 edge in the fourth inning, but leadoff back-to-back home runs by Daniel Futerman and Daniel Hoffman followed by triples from Stav Orgayevsky and Naftali Ben Yosef, put Rehovot in the lead for good.
In the third place game, BBS was looking for revenge for a 25-1 pasting at the hands of Eilat earlier in the tournament.
Yegudayev and Sarkis Patapanian locked horns for a nail-biting 3-0 pitching duel marked by spectacular defense. Both catchers, Roy Even of Eilat and Shlomi Dahan of BBS, threw out runners attempting to steal bases, on bunts and caught foul pop-ups. BBS's Dani Mula turned a double play, but Nadav Viron singled and scored twice and BBS couldn't handle Yegudayev (seven strikeouts).
Each team named a top pitcher, hitter and fielder: Rehovot "A" (Hoffman, Hoffman, Eyal Mozes); Mercaz (Hyde, Phillip Tannor, Jake Miller); Eilat (Yegudayev, Yegudayev, Even); BBS (Patapanian, Zara, Elhanan Rahamim); Rehovot B (Simon Futerman, Ian Kaminer, Kobi Daya); Misgav (Ariel Polinger, Noam Jacobson, Alex Rhodes).