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Frisch Cougars Defeat TABC Storm, Repeat as Yeshiva High School Varsity Baseball Champs

On a sunny afternoon this past Sunday, the Frisch Cougars squared off against the TABC Storm for the M.Y.H.S.A.L. 2015 Varsity Baseball Championship. The Cougars, seeking their second consecutive title, entered the game following a 3-0 shutout of the SAR Sting and having won 17 consecutive league games dating back to May of the 2014 season. The Storm were looking to ride the momentum of a thrilling come-from-behind victory against the second-seeded Kushner Cobras in their semi-final game the previous week. Both teams were relying upon the arms of seasoned veteran pitchers: the Storm behind their ace, Alex Malech, and the Cougars calling on junior Isaac Seelenfreund (who earned the victory in last year’s title game).

? TABC jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the top of the first inning, after a leadoff single and stolen base by shortstop Jacob Rosenfield put him in position to score on Malech’s sacrifice fly to left field. The Cougars answered with their own run in the bottom half of the inning when senior co-captain Mike Reinhart hit a bases loaded single to drive in Seelenfreund. The Cougars added two more runs in the bottom of the 2nd, when Seelenfreund hit a 2-run single to drive in right fielder Jono Rubin and the Cougars’ other co-captain, Alex Kershenbaum. Frisch added a fourth run the following inning when left fielder Jordan Feigenblum, continuing with his torrid playoff hitting streak, knocked in RJ Fischer, who had doubled to deep left field and celebrated his birthday by going 2 for 3 in the big game. ?In the meantime, Seelenfreund settled down on the mound and held the Storm scoreless in innings 2 through 5.

? The Cougars faced a few scary moments on their way to victory. In the top of the fifth inning, the crowd was stunned into silence when the Cougars first baseman, who tied for the team lead in home runs and led the team in stolen bases, hit the fence hard as he flipped over into the stands behind first base while chasing a foul ball. Fortunately, Caplan avoided serious injury, but was forced from the game as a precaution. Frisch coach Ken Secemski responded by moving Rubin—who had made several game-saving plays at first base during Frisch’s 2014 championship run—from right field to first, and put promising freshman Gabe Spiegel in right.

In the top of the 6th, the Storm found some offense, scoring a run and putting runners on the corners with only one out to Shua Naor—who had hit the Storm’s winning home run the previous week—at the plate. On the second pitch with Naor at bat, the Storm called a hit-and-run. Naor lined the ball hard, but right at Spiegel in right field, who caught the ball and fired a dart to Rubin at first base for an inning-ending and rally-killing double play. In the bottom of the inning, as in the first, Frisch felt the need to respond to a TABC run with one of their own. Following a leadoff walk and stolen base by Rubin, center fielder Raphe Shankman laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt to move the runner to third. Two batters later, Seelenfreund knocked in his third run of the game with a sacrifice fly to the left, giving the Cougars a 5-2 lead.

? TABC had a final opportunity to put points on the board in the top of the 7th, when they had a runner on first with one out. At two outs and a runner still on first, the Storm attempted to advance the runner into scoring position by stealing second base, despite Frisch catcher Mark Abramovitz having already thrown out two of four runners in the game. For the third time of the game, a TABC runner was caught stealing. For the second time in two seasons, the Cougars were crowned champions. And for the first time, the Cougars finished their season as undefeated repeat champions.

? Next year, Frisch will lose their senior co-captains, Mike Reinhart and Alex Kershenbaum, two essential components of their success. However, with two consecutive M.Y.H.S.A.L. baseball championships under their belts, a deep pitching rotation and one of the youngest teams in the league, the Cougars are likely to not only be a team to watch next season, but the team to beat.

By Mark Abramovitz

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