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AABJ&D Softball Team Advances to Championship Game

On Sunday, July 19, the AABJ&D Men’s Softball Team advanced to the championship game of the A Division of the Livingston Temple Softball League.

After a hard-fought 14-game season, the A Division began their playoffs with a doubleheader, caused by two games postponed by rain. The day made up for the rainy weather, with temperatures reaching upwards of ninety degrees.

AABJ&D was the second seed, with nine wins and five losses, beating out Pinebrook by tiebreaker. As such, AABJ&D played its first game against B’nai Shalom, the seventh seed.

B’nai Shalom led off the scoring in the top of the first with two runs, but AABJ&D came roaring back in the bottom half of the inning, batting around and scoring seven runs.

The two teams exchanged runs through the next few innings and AABJ&D built a four run lead.

In the top of the sixth, B’nai Shalom fought back to score five runs, taking a 12-11 lead.

AABJ&D withstood its opponent’s rally in the bottom half of the inning. With runners on first and second with one out, Joshua Kaplan lined a hard single into center field to tie the game. The next batter, Rafi Abramowitz, hit a deep triple to score the two runners, and came around to score on Jay Gertelman’s single, giving the team a three-run lead heading into the final inning.

B’nai Shalom didn’t give up, scratching out two runs to bring home within one run, but AABJ&D managed to hold on, and end the game on a fly-out to left field.

The 90-degree heat had worn down the team, but it was only granted a brief respite from the sun before beginning the second game of the doubleheader.

Pinebrook, Temple Shalom’s opponent, held the upper hand with a win between the two teams earlier in the day, 14-12.  Temple Shalom headed into the bottom of the sixth with its hopes bleak, down 11-3. In that inning, though, Pinebrook scored 11 runs, and held on to win.

Pinebrook had the momentum heading into the game, and started off the scoring with a run in the top of the first. The teams exchanged zeroes until the bottom of the second, when AABJ&D scored six runs with the help of a two-run double from Jeff Falkenstein and a two-run single from Doni Israeli.

Pinebrook rallied back when it next came to bat, scoring five to knot the game at six.

Runs continued to flow freely, and when AABJ&D stepped up to the plate in the bottom of the fifth inning, the score was deadlocked at 10.

AABJ&D left that tie in the dust. Everyone on the team got a chance to bat that inning, scoring eight runs.

AABJ&D failed to score again, but its pitching and defense held Pinebrook to only three runs over the rest of the game, winning 18-13, advancing to the championship game.

On the other side of the bracket, fourth-seeded Temple Sinai beat fifth seeded Suburban Torah, 9-6, in a low-scoring affair while top-seeded Sharey Tefilo Israel defeated eighth-seeded B’nai Jeshurun, 15-3.

In the semifinals, Sharey Tefilo Israel beat Temple Sinai, 15-11 to advance to face AABJ&D.

Sharey Tefilo Israel’s victory pushed its league-record win streak to 37 games. The team has not lost in more than two years and has participated in the last three championship games in the A Division.

On the other hand, AABJ&D has never won the A Division title, and are the clear David to Sharey Tefilo Israel’s Goliath.

The championship game between AABJ&D and Sharey Tefilo Israel will take place on the morning of August 2nd.

Sushi Kaplan, a rising junior at West Orange High, is a former Jewish Link editorial intern. Read more of Sushi’s writing at http://www.sushionsports.wordpress.com.

By Sushi Kaplan

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