FM Home Loans Israel Softball League
By Monty Wayland
With the top playoff seed on the line, Yeshiva League Pass clinched the pennant at the last possible moment, defeating Rebbishe Vikings by one run, 18-17, in the season finale.
Zak Lenik powered the YLP offense with a historic 3-homer day, helping to stake his team to a 15-10 lead entering the final frame. In the top of the last, the Vikings went off for 7 runs, and looked set to hold on to the division crown. But YLP rallied one last time, with Ari Kafka winning the game, and the title, with a walk-off 2-run double.
YLP nearly didn’t get the chance to snatch the brass ring, as earlier in the day they had a rough start against Chofetz Chayim Chassidim. The Chassidim jumped out to an 11-5 lead after 3 innings, before YLP began chipping away, eventually prevailing 22-14.
The narrow margin of the playoff race was also manifest in the box scores. While Yeshiva League Pass and Rebbishe Vikings filled the top two playoff spots, Mini Binny’s took the number three seed - and like the Viikings, they too were seperated from the apex by just one solitary run. Earlier in the season, in another razor-thin outcome, YLP had defeated Mini Binny’s 7-6. At the time, certain astute league observers predicted this score could loom large - and sure enough, it proved the difference, as Mini Binny’s had no other loses, and just one rare tie.
Mini Binny’s exploded out of the gate in their last regular season game, batting around twice to put up 16 runs. Binny “Face of the Franchise” Feinmesser himself then took to the mound, and built off the good work of his offense, sitting down 9 in a row, including a 4-pitch first inning. After breaking up the no-hitter in the fourth, Orayta utilized some favourable bounces and timely hits to make a game of it, but Mini Binny’s had more than enough in the tank to close things out, 21-15.
Crossing the finish line just half a game behind, and capturing the fourth seed, were SushiFuze Pointed Discovery, thanks to a nail-biter 7-6 victory over Big Red.
The SushiFuze pitching staff put on a masterful performance, with starter Yaakov Elfassy, middle reliever Zevi Samet, and clutch closer Shaya Zimmerman working magic on the mound. Sruli Sharp paced a balanced SushiFuze attack at the plate.
Big Red was tagged by some handicappers as the dark horse to watch, as they have either a tie or one-run loss against every team they’ve faced above them in the standings.
As luck and the playoff seedings would have it, with the number five seed, Big Red will get a chance to start their playoff run in a first-round rematch with none other than SushiFuze. By unlikely coincidence, the same will happen with sixth-seeded Orayta, who in the playoffs will reprise their final regular-season game against Mini Binny’s. In the third quarter-final game, toward which this litvishe misnaged sportswriter feels strong ideological misgivings, the Chofetz Chayim Chassidim face off against Rebbishe Vikings.
The Goofy Goobers enter the playoffs as the eighth seed, after a tight loss that was considered by most to be a moral victory. Sandstorm outscored the Goofy Goobers 16-13, as Yaakov Rosenberg led the offensive charge with a 4-hit, 4 RBI day including a Home Run. Zach Stern and David Bienenfeld added Home Runs in a 19-hit Sandstorm victory. Amir White pitched 5 strong innings in relief to register the win.
The Goobers showed resilience and heart the whole way through - after being down early, they put together a rally, led by a three-run shot from lefty slugger Eliyahu Ben Ze'ev. And CF Scharf stole the show with a Mookie Betts-esqe diving catch to turn two and save four runs. Goofy Goobers now have their work cut out for them, facing top-seeded YLP in the playoffs.