Games we play: Beit Shemesh, Optica Intl roll into semis

Modified Slow-Pitch Softball League playoffs underway at Kibbutz Gezer; Baseball: Jerusalem clinches championship over Modi'in.

Gezer Field_311 (photo credit: Jay L. Abramoff)
Gezer Field_311
(photo credit: Jay L. Abramoff)
Softball: Beit Shemesh, Optica Intl roll into semis
The Modified Slow-Pitch Softball League playoffs got under way on Sunday night at Kibbutz Gezer, with Optica International and Beit Shemesh posting impressive victories over their respective opening-round opponents.
OI will now face off against perennial powerhouse Rise Hi on Tuesday night, while Beit Shemesh faces off against the Morningside Translations Warriors in a semifinals doubleheader.
Rise Hi has beaten OI twice this season and top-seeded Morningside has beaten Beit Shemesh all three times they have played.
But the playoffs, like every year, promise a clean slate and ultra-competitive games.
Optica recorded its second victory over Be’ersheba in four days to reach the final four, triumphing 15-2 and after posting a 21-1 victory last Thursday night.
OI was led by pitcher Danny Gewirtz, who left after the fifth inning having given up just one earned run, and who has now given up just four runs in his last three games.
“It all means nothing if we can’t get by Rise Hi and get to the finals” commented Gewirtz as he gears up for the semifinal contest.
Offensively OI was led by Josh Wajcman who went 4-4 and three RBI’s.
Yair Gewirtz and Aaron Katsman also had three hits apiece as OI seems to be peaking at the right time having won seven of its last eight games.
Despite making the playoffs every year for ten years running, Sunday marked the first time the Beit Shemesh Suns won a playoff game.
Led by Moshe Hamburg and pitcher Andre Issacson, the Suns pounded out 17 runs and easily handled Ginot Shomron 17-1.
Lavey Freedman returned for his first game after suffering four skull fractures during a game earlier this season and provided the team with an emotional boost. He also went 2-4 with three runs batted in.
Mark Chass made converted every opportunity at shortstop and went 4-5 at the plate. Catcher Adam Fishman went 3-4 and caught a great game. Moshe Hamburg hit another massive home run and went 3-4 with five RBI’s. Pitcher Andre Isaacson pitched with grace, poise and power, overmatching opposing batters at every turn and fielding the ball with aplomb.
The Warriors come into Tuesday’s semifinal red-hot on a nine-game winning streak and hope to get back to the finals for the third consecutive campaign.
“This game is all about momentum and we’re feeling pretty good right now,” said Morningside manager Aron Heller. “We are hitting our stride going at just the right time.”
Baseball: Jerusalem clinches championship over Modi'in
In a close, nip-and-tuck game, the Jerusalem Reds used a seven-run outburst over the last three innings to claim the 2011 IAB Premiere League Baseball championship series, two games to none over runner-up Modi’in with an 11-4 title-clinching victory over the weekend.
The scoring got started early with the eventual champion taking a quick 3-0 lead in the first inning on Orr Gottlieb’s two-run single.
Modi’in fought back, tying the game at three in the fourth inning on Jesse Sultanik’s RBI triple that found him taking home on an outfield error.
But then Jerusalem ended its scoring silence, scoring three runs in the seventh to take a 6-3 lead that was never relinquished.
For the victors, national team player Beni Friedman reached base four times, and went 2-3, with a long triple in the ninth that started a four-run rally. Jacob Zeffren had two RBI scoring hits to add to the effort.
National teamer Orr Gottlieb picked up the win, pitching seven innings while striking out 14 Modi’in batters.
National team player Ira Moskowitz pitched effectively for the second straight outing for Modi’in, while another national teamer, Noam Markose, went 1-2 with a triple of his own, while scoring three of his Modi’in’s four runs. Sultanik led the runnerup with three hits.
The game ended with a trophy ceremony on the infield for the 2011 champions.
“We started the game well, then we really slumped in the middle innings,” remarked Reds’ coach David Friedman.
“But we really got ignited on offense after big hits by Zeffren, Friedman and Alter. It’s great to win this. All season long we found ways to win, and did so again today.”
With the Premiere League season now over, the senior national team will play its annual tournament at the end of July here in Israel, hosting three European teams.