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Friday, November 30, 2007

Israel baseball's championship season


While the soap opera called the Israel Baseball League rolls into December and closer to an Opening Day that may or may not materialize, the sport of baseball is thriving in Israel and a dramatic, action-packed championship series is underway and getting more ink in the nation than the infighting, announcements and real news behind the bigshot professional league.

Haaretz reports:

The Tel Aviv Reds were running on all cylinders Wednesday night, pounding out 14 hits on the way to a resounding 13-3 triumph over the Ra'anana Wildfire in the first game of the best-of-three Israel Association of Baseball Senior Fall League championship series.

Ra'anana came into the game as the favorite after having won seven straight games to earn home-team advantage. However, the Spring League champions from Tel Aviv made an emphatic statement in the top of the first inning, scoring six runs on five hits. The biggest blow was a two-run double by player-coach Dan Rothem - the first of his three hits on the night, while veteran hurler George Chityat hit an RBI single.

Having helped his own cause, Chityat then proceeded to shut down the Ra'anana attack through five innings, scattering three hits.

Stellar defensive play by Rothem and centerfielder Omri Modiano nailed two Ra'anana runners at home plate during a wild fifth inning, with catcher Ofir Katz, who also had a three-hit game, successfully applying the tags.

Chityat finally ran out of steam in the sixth, but Ra'anana's three-run rally was squelched by Modiano's sterling shoestring catch to end the inning. Closer Jason Hillman secured the win with two efficient innings of relief.

The win saddled Ra'anana's Daniel Maddy-Weitzman with his first loss of the season, and left Tel Aviv one win away from the championship.

Game 2 is scheduled for 7 P.M. Sunday evening at the Yarkon Sports Complex in Petah Tikva's Baptist Village, with Game 3, if necessary, on Wednesday at the same time and place.