Lobos ended a two-year quest to recapture the Holyland Series Championship Trophy, capping a tense nip-and-tuck playoff run in stunning fashion with a victory over Ziontours in the title game of the All-Star Israel Softball League. Lobos fans and players stormed the field on the final out, celebrating the victory late into the night.
Lobos had barely survived their semifinal showdown with Pearl Pigments, coming up with a desperate 3-run comeback rally to advance to the championship in a game that earned instant classic status − in particular, the incredible deciding play. With the bases loaded, none out, and the winning run in scoring position for Lobos, Pearl Pigments moved their outfield dramatically close, ceding most of the ballpark as irrelevant no-man’s land in the hopes of preventing a run.
What followed had the entire ballpark frozen for a split second of disbelief, as the runners left on the pitch, which was lined into short left field − and it seemed that every last denizen of Kraft Stadium realized simultaneously that this would be either a game-winning hit or the most stunningly simple triple play imaginable. The ball hung tantalizingly in the air for a frozen moment − then landed beyond the reach of the Pearls fielder, sending Peretz Rappaport across the plate with the winning run, and sending Lobos to the championship.
Ziontours meanwhile blew by all opposition on their way to the finals, led by ace fireballer Jon Cohen. Cohen earned a 7-1 record on the mound, including a thrilling semifinals victory over Chula Vista. After the Ziontours defense blanked their adversaries for much of that game, a rally saw the tying run come to the plate for Chula Vista, before Cohen escaped the jam and sent Ziontours to the big dance.
Despite Ziontours defensive bona fides and Lobos flair for the dramatic − or perhaps precisely because of these − Lobos was determined to end the uncertainty early in the championship game. Veteran leadoff batter Danny Strum set the table for Lobos with two hits, including a triple. Strum also staved off a Ziontours rally with a phenomenal diving catch.
Aryeh Berkowitz was a perfect 3-for-3 at the plate, Yaakov Asayag went 3-for-4, and Pinny Itzkowitz added two hits and two RBIs. Yaakov Ehrlich pitched brilliantly, allowing only a solitary run, and registering there hits of his own, including a triple.
Lobos moved out to an early 5-1 lead, then put the game out of reach, eventually finishing with a 17-1 victory, as Yitzy Kramer, Yitzy Miller, and Yechiel Klieman each had four hits, and Kleinman’s highlight-reel catch made fans so happy they stayed for the celebratory formalities even when the game was out of reach.
The bravura performance of the night, however, belonged to Lobos captain Nussi Jacobovitch, who had a triple and two home runs, one going over left center in the deepest part of the park, and six RBIs. Jacobovitch accepted the Holyland Series Trophy on behalf of Lobos amid a raucous crowd of well-wishers.
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