The longest season of the Livingston Temple Softball League in recent memory finally ended and two teams that had sub-par seasons came up very big in the playoffs.
In the A division, B’nai Shalom pulled off the improbable by stopping the strongest team of the season, Lubavitch Center.
After a 3-8 start, it looked like B’nai Shalom had a good chance of returning to the B division next season. But a three-game winning streak to end the season lifted them to the sixth seed in the playoffs where timely hitting and great defensive play gave them one-run victories in the first two games to bring them to the championship game for the third straight year with two championships to show for it. Meanwhile, Lubavitch Center was the top seed going in to the post-season. After an easy first round win, they needed a big sixth-inning rally to erase a six-run deficit to take the semifinal.
The championship game, though, was all B’nai Shalom. The offense started off uncharacteristically solid, building a 10-1 lead after two innings. The early offensive outburst was led by Brian Fisher and Paul Velelis. In the seventh, Glenn Liebermann and Gordon Rayfield each tripled to produce two more runs in the 12-5 victory. Pitcher Jon Kempner kept Lubavitch off balance and shortstop David Katz led the defense with one stellar play after another.
The matchup in the B division pitted top finisher B’nai Jeshurun against B’nai Abraham. Eighteen players showed up for BA and they all got in the game, most of them contributing to the 18-5 victory.
BA jumped out to an early 4-0 lead. Jeshurun, one of only two teams to score more than 200 runs for the season, answered with three quick tallies, but they could not get anything going against BA’s pitcher Ken Gorman. Going into the top of the sixth, BA maintained a 6-4 advantage. They scratched out a run on consecutive hits by Ken Gorman, Howie Greenberg, and Dave Rosenblum before coach Mitch Katz hit a three-run homer to extend the lead to 10-4. In the seventh, BA sent 13 players to the plate, scoring eight more runs.
Both teams will move up to the A division for next season.
Analysis by Bob Sperling