April 22, 2024
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Kushner Baseball Triumphs Over Frisch, Wins Championship

Sitting on the grass at the Columbus Ohio JCC, after losing the first two games of the Jewish Baseball World Series on Mother’s Day, the Kushner Cobras were understandably dejected. Fast forward to Father’s Day and the Cobras flipped the script, defeating the Frisch Cougars 2-1 in a riveting yeshiva league championship game.

During that pivotal post-game meeting in Ohio, senior tri-captains Sam Bernstein,

Koby Stadtmauer and Sam Raab told their teammates that they had to leave the program better than they found it. After those two defeats on Mother’s Day, the Cobras wouldn’t lose again.

The Father’s Day matchup between top seeded Frisch and second seeded Kushner promised to be an exciting one. The Cougars, who were the defending three time yeshiva league champions and the reigning back to back Jewish World Series champions, were undefeated coming into the game and had senior ace Jake Lebovitch on the mound. The Cobras sent senior ace Sam Bernstein to the hill. Bernstein, who entered the game with a 6-1 record and a sub one ERA, was coming off of a dominant semi-final performance against MTA.

After a gloomy start to the day with some intermittent rain, the sun broke out as the national anthems played at Palisades Credit Union Park, the home of the Rockland Boulders, in Pomona. Lebovitch set down the Cobras in order in the top of the first. In the bottom of the first, Frisch’s center fielder Daniel Fischoff led off with a bunt that was popped foul. Kushner catcher Ilan Cohen made a phenomenal diving catch to record the out which would set the tone for the Cobras.

In the top of the second inning, the Cobras threatened after senior DH Danny Blank walked and sophomore left fielder Josh Matthew ripped a double to the right center field gap. Fischoff fielded the ball and threw a strike to the strong armed cutoff man RJ Fischer, whose relay throw was in time to get Blank and keep the Cobras off the scoreboard.

In the bottom of the frame, Fischer led off with a booming triple to the gap, prompting Kushner to bring its infield in. The next man up hit a ground ball past the drawn in Kushner infield for an RBI single, giving Frisch a 1-0 lead. Those two hits would be all that Bernstein would surrender. After working out of trouble in the second inning, Lebovitch stifled the Cobra bats through the first five frames.

With just six outs remaining, Cobras head coach Larry Canales pulled his troops over, told them to stay confident in their abilities and reminded them of all the hard work they had put in to get to this point. The Kushner bats responded in the sixth inning. After a Raab walk, Stadtmauer laced an RBI double to the gap, tying the game at one. Stadtmauer moved to third on a wild pitch, but was stranded there after a failed squeeze attempt by the Cobras.

Bernstein continued to cruise in the bottom of the sixth, which set up Kushner’s seventh inning heroics. Bernstein led off with a single up the middle and then stole second base. Pinch hitter Jesse Koppel successfully bunted Bernstein over to third base. For the second straight game, Jon Kirsch stepped up as a pinch hitter. This time Coach Canales asked Kirsch to bunt, and he executed beautifully, scoring Bernstein from third in the second consecutive game where this duo worked together for the go-ahead run. After a 1-2-3 bottom of the seventh from Bernstein, the Cobras’ celebration started.

For the Kushner baseball team, it was their third overall yeshiva league title and first since 2012. For the school, it was their third championship win this spring, following wins by boys varsity soccer and girls varsity hockey.

This year’s Cobras dedicated themselves to improving each and every day. With the tremendous help and support of Athletic Director Richard Kirsch, they played numerous out-of-conference games against tough public and private school foes, and practiced frequently, often four to five times a week. The hard work was evident on the morning of the championship game, when the Cobras showed up for a 6:30am batting practice prior to taking the team bus to the stadium. The dedication and determination of every member of the team, along with Coach Canales and assistant coaches Dan Distacio and David Ptalis, certainly paid off as the Kushner Cobras earned the 2017 trophy.

By JLNJ Sports Desk

 

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