June 14, 2024
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June 14, 2024
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Highland Park 16u Owls Are Champs

The Highland Park Owls spring season came to a triumphant close this Monday evening when the 16u Babe Ruth squad defeated South Amboy for the InterCounty League championship. The game played on an oppressive 90-degree night at Highland Park High School.

The Owls—the only municipally sponsored shomer Shabbos travel program in New Jersey—a diverse group of mostly eighth graders, were taking on a South Amboy squad of high schoolers. Jake Levine (incoming freshman at JEC) took to the mound for the Owls and held the opponent scoreless through three innings with his pinpoint control and ability to change speeds. Highland Park struck first in the top of the third with a two-out bunt single by Joey Cypess (JEC), who advanced to second on a wild throw. On the very next pitch he took off for third base, the ball scooted past the third baseman and Cypess scored. After plating a second run in the fourth on a wild pitch to get the Owls lead up to 2-0, Levine ran into trouble in the fourth with two walks led to South Amboy scoring without the ball leaving the infield. Levine capped off his 87 pitch, five inning performance by retiring the side in the bottom of the fifth with two strikeouts.

The Owls had a chance to jump ahead in the top of the sixth when JEC catcher Avrami Arnow doubled to deep center, Cypess ran for him—as the rules allow—and stole third. Cypess, known for his speed and daring baserunning, took a huge lead at third and when the pitcher threw over, he broke for home. South Amboy executed perfectly to nab him at the plate.

Sammy Levine (JEC) came on in the sixth and gave up two quick baserunners before retiring the next three hitters. In the seventh, the Owls advanced the go ahead run to second with two outs. Sam Blau (JEC) came to the plate, he’d been overmatched all evening and fell behind 0-2 before lifting a double over the right fielder’s head to plate the go ahead run. Sammy Levine returned to the mound in the seventh and shut the door with a ground out and two strikeouts to give Highland Park the championship.

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