Netanya, Modi'in advance to semifinals

The Netanya Tigers and Modi'in Miracle advanced to the semifinals of the IBL playoffs on Thursday evening. Netanya eliminated the Ra'anana Express, 3-0, on a dominant pitching performance by Colombia native RHP Rafael Rojano and Modi'in defeated the Petah Tikva Pioneers 6-2. In Friday's semifinals third-seeded Modi'in will play the second-seeded Tel Aviv Lightning at Sportek. And at Gezer Netanya will take on the first-seeded Bet Shemesh Blue Sox. The final will be held on Sunday evening. On Thursday, Ra'anana countered with RHP Esequier Pie of the Dominican Republic, who had thrown two no-hitters during the regular season. Both pitchers were on top of their game, allowing only four hits apiece. In the end it came down to defense, in which the Express committed five errors on the day, allowing two unearned runs to score. Netanya jumped on the board in the bottom of the first inning, on a throwing error by Ra'anana 3B Ben Katz-Moses, allowing CF Josh Doane to score the first run of the game. In the bottom of the third inning, Netanya added another run when Ra'anana C Juan Ramirez committed a throwing error at third base, allowing Ryan Forsythe to score. In the top of the seventh inning, with the Tigers leading by three runs the Express tried to maount a rally. With a runner on base and one out, 1B Scott Feller hit a line drive double to right field advancing the runner to third. 2B Donnie Mott Jr. hit a screaming line drive to CF Josh Doane, who made an excellent shoestring catch. However, there was some confusion on the play since the umpire originally signaled that Doane did not catch the ball. After a long conference by the umpires it was officially ruled a "catch." Rafael Rojano finished the game by getting DH Jesse Michel to groundout to first base. At Gezer Field, the Miracle's RHP Craig Eagle threw a complete game, allowing two runs on only three hits. Modi'in scored two runs with two outs in the bottom of the first inning, on RBI singles by C Eladio Rodriguez and DH Adalberto Paulino. The Pioneers answered back in the top of the second inning with one run on a solo-shot by LF Ryan Crotin. In the bottom of the inning, Modi‚in 3B Jamie Aimar led off the inning with a home run. The Miracle would add one more run in the inning to increase their lead to 4-1. In the bottom of the fifth inning, the Miracle added two insurance runs on a lead off home run by Australian CF Matt Bennett and a RBI single by LF Moko Moanaroa.