The Tel Aviv Comrades carried their strong regular season form into the playoff, capturing the Premiere League baseball championship with two victories, sweeping Ra'anana in a best-of-three series.
In the first game, played last Sunday, Tel Aviv dominated Ra'anana 16-6. Ra'anana starter John Braxton, who bounced back this season from an arm injury to become one of the more consistent pitchers in the league, struggled with his command early. However, it was a shaky Ra'anana defense whose errors allowed a solid Tel Aviv lineup four and five outs per innings.
Another solid pitching performance by Tel Aviv ace Orr Gottlieb, who also had a pair of timely hits, led Tel Aviv to a commanding 16-1 lead after six innings. Ra'anana's offense regained some strength toward the end of the game, led by player/coach Josh Weiss and leadoff man Dani Goldring. For Tel Aviv, left fielder Alan Goodman had two hits and some solid defensive work.
Tuesday featured the second game of the series. Ra'anana starter Gilead Zwilling and Tel Aviv's veteran Dan Rothem kept the scoreboard clean through four. Tel Aviv managed to scrap one run in the fourth thanks to a Ra'anana defensive glitch. In the bottom of the 5th inning, Rothem came up to bat with the bases loaded and drove a deep line drive to right field, clearing the bases and putting Tel Aviv up 4-0.
Superb defensive work by Tel Aviv third baseman Yoav Meoded and a strong pitching performance by Rothem (10 Ks, 3 BB, 0 R) allowed Tel Aviv to gain a 7-0 lead after 7, but a shaky relief job by Yuli Tsypin allowed host Ra'anana to creep back, scoring 3 on a bases-loaded RBI double by their promising young catcher Yoav Halper and some quality at bats by first baseman Guy Peled. Tel Aviv managed to score 2 more in the top of the ninth, and pitcher Orr Gottlieb, on one day's rest, closed out Ra'anana in the 9th to clinch the 9-4 victory and the championship.
The victory gave Tel Aviv its third championship team of the year, with the kids and youth capturing their respective titles.
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