Venezuela and the Israel All-Star team will vie for the Maccabiah softball gold medal in a best-of-three game playoff series which starts this morning at 11 A.M.
Venezuela joined two Israeli teams in the tournament for the abbreviated Maccabiah, which was cut short by the last-minute decision to stage the games despite the security situation.
Fans have been treated over the past week to some wonderful moments at the Yarkon Sports Complex at Baptist Village near Petah Tikva where pitcher Ricardo Landau, playing in his seventh Maccabiah, won a thriller over Israel's national team. Samuel Szomstein became the first foreign player to hit a home run at the ground, and Ruben Ben-Israel's long home run sent pitcher Ami Baran in for an early shower.
The national team lost its opener to Israel B (the All-Stars), which is made up of players who won't be traveling with the national team to Belgium for the European Championships later this summer. David Rubinstein picked up the win for the All-Stars.
In the national team's second game, Venezuela went ahead 9-4 and held on to win 9-8 before a major on-field celebration erupted.
On Tuesday, a tremendous pitching match up between Israel's Ami Baran and Dimona's Yaron Ben-Israel saw the Dimonan pitch the game of his life, going all seven innings and upsetting the Baran and his national teammates 11-1.
Venezuela has also looked good, utilizing two main pitchers, Landau, and junk pitcher Roberto Klein. Their defense also did the job for them and their bats have been devastating.
The All-Stars are led into the championship series by third-baseman Shlomo Liptz, who has made some dazzling defensive plays and at bat leads the team with a .850 on-base percentage.
Other reasons they hold the top spot are Josh Goldner's excellent play at shortstop; Guy Bender's .680 batting average; Stu Schrader's fine all-around play; tremendous pitching from Yaron and Rubinstein; and solid coaching by Mendy Pinchovsky and Sariel Ben-Israel.
Game 2 of the championship series will take place at 3 P.M. on Sunday and if a deciding game is needed to determine the gold medal it will be played on Sunday night at 7 P.M.
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