GEZER, Israel – The Gezer Tigers have been crowned the 2017 Israeli Softball Association (ISA) Men’s National Softball Champions in a thrilling 8-inning final. The win marks the first title for the Tigers in 16 years.
Hernan Guinguis singled in the go-ahead run in the top of the 8th, and the Tigers won the ISA Finals for the first time since 2001, defeating the Warriors 2-1 and 2 games to 1 in the series. Roye Shelem scored both of the Tigers’ runs, while Sisko Sabate struck out 18.
This was a nail-biter from beginning to the end. The first inning started with a walk to Roye Shelem. Ofer Bobrov tried to bunt him over, but popped up. Sisko Sabate then hit a ground ball single to center field, which was read very well by Shelem (might have been a hit-and-run). By the time CF Yomi Klaff got to the ball and threw towards home, Shelem had crossed the plate with the first run of the game.
The score remained 1-0 Tigers until the bottom of the 2nd inning when Bar Shrem singled, was bunted to 2nd by Yomi Klaff, then took 3rd base when no one was covering. After a strikeout, a wild pitch scored Shrem, to tie the game at 1.
In the 6th inning, Bobrov grounded out, Sabate was intentionally walked, then Nico Deu hit a screaming line drive to center field, which was caught by centerfielder Klaff.
The Tigers threatened in the next inning. Justin Peedin singled, Ilan Spira tried to bunt him over, but popped the ball between the pitcher and second baseman, Gal Shrem picked up the ball and forced out Peedin. Shlomi Mor Haim then singled to put runners on 1st and 2nd. With 2 pinch runners now on the field (Gilad Lazar for Mor Haim, and Guy Bender for Spira), Abilio Rodriguez hit a grounder back to the mound, and Jonas Hajny threw to 3rd base to get the force out. Shelem then struck out swinging to end the threat.
Warriors went 1-2-3 in their half of the 7th inning, so the game headed to extra innings; Shelem was placed on 2nd base. Bobrov struck out, Sabate was intentionally walked, Nico Deu walked, then Hernan Guinguis singled in Shelem to put the Tigers up 2-1. The next 2 batters struck out.
In the bottom of the 8th, Klaff was placed on 2nd base. On the first pitch, the ball got away from catcher Deu, putting the tying run at 3rd. Alas: Kfir Leon struck out, Gal Shrem popped out a bunt, and Raz Shuker struck out to end the game, series and season.
MVP of the Series: Sisko Sabate.
Notable stats for the 3-game series: Last year, in the Gezer-Tigers finals, the home team won each game; this year, the visiting team won each game. The losing team in each game scored 1 run. Sisko Sabate struck out 50 batters, while Jonas Hajny struck out 29. Bar Shrem for the Warriors, and Justin Peedin for the Tigers, were the only hitters to get 1 hit in each game.