Modi’in-Gezer and Ra’anana-Tel Mond emerged victorious with late-inning rallies as Israel baseball’s Junior League playoffs kicked off last Friday. The defending champion Tel Aviv Comrades also advanced.
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At Baptist Village, Modi’in-Gezer overcame a seven-run deficit to edge the Beit Shemesh Blue Sox. The Sox came out slugging with four runs in the top of the first; Naftali Rochwarger’s two-run double to left was the big hit.
This was followed by a double to left by Sam Posen and a base hit up the middle by Osh Zuckerbrot. The Miracles countered with a pair of runs in the bottom of the frame, with Zvi Kuhr delivering the key stroke.
The Blue Sox extended their lead in the second to 9-2 with key hits by Eli Krauss and Shuki Harow. Boaz Milgram and Natani Kuhr each doubled in the bottom of the second to help Modi’in-Gezer narrow the gap to 9-5.
Milgram took over the mound duties for Modi’in-Gezer in the third and shut down the Blue Sox for the rest of the game. A brisk double play turned by second baseman Dovi Fishman and shortstop Ori Wachspress helped Milgram escape a Blue Sox threat.
Eli Weber drove in two runs for Modi’in-Gezer in the third with a shot to left-center, and the Miracles scratched across another run in the bottom of the sixth with a well-placed bunt by Nachum Kletzel.
The Blue Sox had to go their bullpen in the bottom of the seventh clinging to a one-run lead. But Idan Havakuk led off with a base hit up the middle, Ariel Dahl walked and Natani Kuhr lined a single to right-center to drive in Havakuk with the tying run. One batter later, Dahl sprinted home with the winning run on a wild pitch.
The Ra’anana-Tel Mond Raiders also won their game late, topping the Jerusalem Lions at Ra’anana.
The Lions started strong with two runs off Freddy Bain, who struck back with a two-run triple off Lions opener Michael Goldberg. An RBI groundout by Yehuda Freud and a double by Ben Laks gave the Raiders a two-run lead.
The Lions scored three unearned runs in the second to even things up; Goldberg then held the Raiders to a scoreless half and Hadar Sugarman stopped the Lions in top of the third. A walk by Adam Miller in the bottom of the inning later turned into a run on a wild pitch, making it 6-5 Raiders.
In the fourth the Lions plated four; in the fifth Miller held the Lions off. After two Raider strikeouts, Daniel Rand walked. Quality base running by Rand gave the Raiders a run to make it 9-6.
In the bottom of the sixth and final inning, Yishai Freund singled and Sugarman stroked an RBI single to make it 9-7. With two on base, Bain singled to make it 9-8, and Ami Shapiro, who had walked, scored on wild pitch for the tie. Freund won it for the Raiders 10-9 with a single.
The Tel Aviv Comrades had an easier time fending off the Modi’in Miracles 13-5 at the Sportek in Tel Aviv. Yotam Ben Amram had a solid start on the mound, buoyed by Omri Tubal’s two-run home run and two singles.
Danny Mishkit added a diving catch in left field with two outs and runners on second and third. Both Ely Perlman and Yoav Meoded did a good job in relief.
The semifinals will be played Friday, with the Raiders taking on the Beit Shemesh Comets, who received a bye, at Baptist Village. The Comrades will play Modi’in-Gezer at Kibbutz Gezer.