In a showdown of the top two teams in the Junior League on Friday, the Modiin-Gezer Miracles walked away with a 3-2 victory over the Beit Shemesh Comets at the Kibbutz Gezer field. The contest featured dominating performances by the two starting pitchers – Beit Shemesh’s Shlomo Lipman and Modiin-Gezer’s Ori Wachspress – who each carried no-hitters into the sixth inning.
The Comets scored an unearned run in the first inning, after Lipman walked and came home on a throwing error by Modiin-Gezer.
Beit Shemesh threatened again in the second inning after the leadoff batter reached on a hit-by-pitch, but Wachspress then fanned the next three batters. Modiin-Gezer’s tall right-handed player worked around a walk in the third inning, with center fielder Ariel Dahl corralling a deep drive by Beit Shemesh’s number-two hitter, Elyashiv Segal. Solid infield work by Modiin-Gezer also helped Wachspress hold the Comets scoreless over the next two innings.
Beit Shemesh struck again in the sixth inning when Lipman broke up Wachspress’ no-hitter by blasting a home run over the center field fence, extending his team’s lead to 2-0. Boaz Milgram took over the mound duties for Modiin-Gezer and cruised through Beit Shemesh’s lineup during his two innings of scoreless relief.
Meanwhile, Lipman was unhittable during the first five innings, striking out 12 of the 17 batters he faced.
Catcher Yakir Becker helped quash a potential rally in the second inning by gunning down Aviel Brief trying to steal second after reaching on a walk.
The Miracles finally got on the scoreboard in the sixth inning, when Idan Havakuk reached first on a squibbler that just stayed fair along the third baseline, ending Lipman’s bid for a no-hitter. Havakuk advanced to second when the Comets failed to handle a ground ball by Milgram and Wachspress followed with a double down the line, driving in Havakuk with his team’s first run.
With men on second and third, the Comets chose to intentionally walk Modiin-Gezer’s slugger Yoav Halper in order to fill the bases. But Brief then worked a walk to push across another run and tie the game 2-2. Lipman then struck out the next batter to avoid further damage and finish his six innings of work with 15 Ks.
In the bottom of the seventh and last inning, the first two Modiin batters, Eli Weber and Dovi Fishman, reached on walks surrendered by Segal, pitching in relief for Beit Shemesh. Havakuk then came through again for Modiin, placing a perfect bunt, and Weber raced home with the winning run on an errant throw by the Comets in fielding the bunt.
With the victory, Modiin-Gezer finished the regular season with a 12-3 record. Despite the defeat, the Comets still lead the league with a 12-2 record, with their final game on Friday against their city rivals, the Mavericks. The Junior League playoffs are slated to begin on June 6.
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