The Flatbush Falcons completed their competition time in Columbus on Tuesday afternoon (5/16) with an eye on the future as the coaches and fans got a preview of what the 2018 Falcons will look like as they challenged the Ida Crown Jewish Academy Aces (Chicago, IL), ultimately falling in the Gold winner’s bracket consolation game, while seeing some of the younger baseballers in action, giving glimpses of the Falcon stars in the making at the Columbus JCC Fields in Columbus, Ohio.
Like the day before, the morning began with Shachait and breakfast at Torat Emet, then a leisurely stroll up College Avenue to the Columbus JCC where the Falcons would play in one of the final two games of the 2017 CBI tournament.
Relegated to the field with the artificial mound, the Flatbush boys prepared to compete for 3rd place in the event. With the championship out of reach, the coaches decided that they would take the opportunity provided by the consolation game to give many of the reserves the chance to take the field in a real game situation and get a real feel for competitive high school baseball.
Coach Elliot Zakay handed the ball to Senior Teddy Beyda. The last time Beyda pitched was on this same mound when he was part of the first Flatbush baseball team to compete in Columbus. In the previous two days, the Falcons learned that both Dani Sharabi and Alfred Sutton are ready to take the ball behind ace pitcher Kevin Haddad. Now, with three games in 3 game in six days awaiting the Falcons in the coming week, it was a chance to see if Beyda would be an arm Head Coach Eric Hall could count on. At the same time, the coaches put an infield behind Beyda that was very, very young – made up of three Sophomores and one Freshman.
Having lost the coin flip to the Aces, the falcons batted first looking to get some early pressure on the always tough Ida Crown Aces. Sol Franco led off, looking to drop a bunt like the previous two he set down against Columbus. He successfully put the ball in fair play, but it just did not travel far enough out from the plate. The catcher chased it down quickly and fired a strike to first base to nab Franco. Sol Laniado was the third batter of the inning, and though he tagged the second Ace pitch he saw, it went right to the left fielder – 3 Falcons up, 3 Falcons down.
Beyda then stepped to the hill in the bottom half of the inning. The half-inning showed that his arm is absolutely a reliable one. He rolled two ground balls to the first two batters, the first retired skillfully by Sol Laniado’s accurate throw from third to Simon Masry at first. Save for a short throw on the second batter’s grounder to Joe Tawil at short, there would have been two outs and nobody on. An error on a grounder from the next batter prolonged the inning. The next batter hit a deep fly to center, where it was run down by Marty Elmekies, but the runner tagged up and Ida Crown had the early lead. The Aces would get one more run before Beyda got strikeout for the final out of the inning. Two runs in, neither one of them earned.
Flatbush’s second crack at putting up runs was even more frustrating that the first. Sam Laniado – like is brother Sol – made very solid contact in driving the ball to left field. But also like Sol, the ball was hit right to the left fielder. He barely had to move to make the catch. The next two batters went down on strikes. The final out, Masry being called out on a ball that appeared to cross way below his knees, prompted a rather rude directive to Masry from the home plate umpire when Masry gave him a questioning look after the called third strike.
From that point on, it would prove to be a rather frustrating afternoon for the Falcons. The defense at times showed that there is much to work on, but it also showed there is much to be confident about going forward. The second inning saw Beyda continue to be right around the strike zone, but he was again victimized by some nervous fielding. Ida Crown pushed 6 runs across the plate before Franco corralled a pop out at second to stop the bleeding.
Coach Zakay handed the ball to Dani Sharabi in the third inning, and that was when the Falcons saw that they may just have another quality glove in the outfield. The Ida Crown hitter drove the ball deep to left field, but Ricky Levy tracked it down with ease. Sharabi induced grounders from two of the next three batters to retire the side without yielding a run.
Flatbush threatened to finally get on the board in the top of the fourth when Sol Laniado showed his bat is just smoking hot, lacing a double into the gap in left center. Sam moved him to third on a sacrifice grounder, and walks to the next two batters loaded the bases for Marty Elmekies. Elmekies had singled his last time up, but he could not repeat the feat, looking at a called third strike to end the threat.
The bottom half of the inning saw the Aces really put the game out of reach, when they pushed another 6 runs across the plate, sparked by a botched infield pup up with runners on first and second. Though the batter was out on the infield fly, when the ball was dropped and rolled out of bounds the runners advanced two bases each. There was mayhem and confusion up and down the Falcon roster. When the dust finally settled and the inning was over, the Aces held a commanding 14-0 lead.
But before the inning ended, Flatbush’s rookie leftfielder showed his work in the earlier inning was no fluke. Ida Crown again drilled a ball to deep left field, but this time it was over Levy’s head and tailing way from him. But it was no matter to Levy. He tracked it down, reached out and snagged the ball in his outstretched glove, bringing the fans in attendance – and his teammates on the bench – to their feet in excitement!
Ever the competitors, Flatbush was not going to go quietly. Coach Zakay inserted two of his senior players to pinch hit in the top of the fifth inning, and they delivered. Al Tawil nudged the pitcher into hitting him with a pitch, and Victor Allaham followed with ground ball that was booted for an error. That brought up Sol Franco, who delivered a solid sacrifice grounder to short, garnering the first Flatbush RBI on the day as Tawil sprinted home from third with the Falcons’ first run. Mo Goldman followed with a walk, and with both runners having taken bases on the Aces relief pitcher, Allaham then scored from third when the pitcher was called for a balk. Sol Laniado followed with solid contact for the third time in the game, but again came up empty-handed as the third baseman snared the ball out of the air. Flatbush would get no more, and that would be the final runs of the game. Final score: Ida Crown 14, Flatbush 2.
After the game, it was time to say goodbye to Columbus, but not before sharing a ride and a little pizza with new friends from TABC, and a final stop at the Falcons favorite food stop in town – the Kroger’s with the very nice Kosher food section – to stock up on deli and snacks for the ride home.
Ten hours later, the Falcons were back home in Brooklyn, tired from the trip but energized from the experience, ready to play the final games of the regular season, and contest for a third MYHSAL championship – with perhaps another shot at the Frisch Cougars along the way!