Games We Play: Aztek opens '07 with two wins

Aztek defeated Rise-Hi 15-6 in an amateur softball in Israel game on Friday, its second win of the new season. Behind the solid pitching of lefty Blair Portnoy and the offense and defense of veteran Mike Barth and Jon Wall, who returned after several years of army service, the defending champions defeated Rise-Hi in a rematch of last year's finals. Home runs in the first inning by shortstop Aryeh Stern and Gezer-bred Noam Zwilling highlighted an eight-run Aztek first inning. New Aztek captain Dave Epstein made three fine fielding plays at third base, including a third-to-first double play with one out and two men on. For Rise-Hi, Ethan Harow had four hits and Avinoam Bernstein had two hits and played great in left field. However, Rise-Hi had trouble coping with the speed of Aztek's Ariels, Gilor and Kass, on the base paths and in the field. Fielding gems by Portnoy on a bunt in front of the plate and Stern backhanding a sharp grounder in the hole at short were some of the highlights. Yossi Hadad's pinch-hit triple with a runner on helped Aztek seal the victory. Also last week, Aztek defeated AFI, a new team led by two-sport stars Kenny Zwiebel and Aryeh Bauman, 7-4 in their season opener.