With the MYHSAL playoff picture in need of clarity, the Flatbush Falcons Boys Varsity Softball team’s game with Shaare Torah that ended in a 6-6 tie after 9 innings of play last Friday afternoon (5/12) was deemed needed to be completed – with the final berth in the 2017 MYHSAL playoffs on the line. So five days later, the two teams gathered on Thursday afternoon (5/17) at the Colonel David Marcus Playground on 4th Street and Avenue P to pick things up where they were left off and needing only one inning of play, the Falcons scored one run in the bottom of the 10th inning to defeat the Stars and secure that final playoff spot and a future date with the top-seeded Hillel Yeshiva Hurricanes.
The “longest” game in Flatbush softball history started innocuously enough on Friday afternoon with the teams exchanging goose eggs for the first few innings, though Flatbush had threatened to put runs up as early as the bottom of the first inning when they lead off with consecutive walks, but saw it go by the wayside when the reliable Aaron Kubie grounded into a double play, then Joey Habert flew out to left stranding Isaac Dweck at third.
It was a defensive battle all around, and Flatbush could not even buy a hit. All that changed in the 4th inning, when the Falcon bats finally came alive. With one out, Ray Betesh smacked a double, and that was the spark Flatbush needed. Ralph Lati followed with a double of his own to plate Betesh with Flatbush’s first run of the game. Max Salem and Isaac Farhi each followed with singles making it four consecutive hits before the Stars recorded the second out of the inning. Three more RBI singles came from Yoel Goldberg, Kubie and Habert before Alan Maleh flied out to right field to end the inning, with Flatbush having put up 5 runs on the board.
The Falcons were right back at it in the bottom of the 5th when Alan Frastai led off with a triple, then came in to score on Betesh’s single. Flatbush would threaten later in the inning, advancing Lati to third with one out, but they could not bring him home. It would be the last runs Flatbush would get to cross the plate on Friday.
In the meantime, YST found equal offensive success, matching the Falcons’ 6-run output with 6 of their own, and when the teams had completed the regulation 7 innings of play, the score was knotted at 6-6.
The teams would play two more innings, but the defenses remained on lock-down, with neither team able to plate a go-ahead or winning run. After 9 full innings of play, it became very late and with Shabbat approaching, the game was deemed a tie, and was filed with the MYHSAL offices as such.
But, it soon became clear that if the game were played to its conclusion, the winner of the contest would earn a 4-4 record, which would put that team in a tie with Yeshiva Darchei Torah and MTA. The tie-break would then go to strength of schedule, with that decider serving to advance the winner of the YST-Flatbush game by mere percentage-points over the other two .500 schools. The result – an agreement between YST and Flatbush to pick up the game where it was left off, playing it out to its natural conclusion with the winner advancing to the MYHSAL Playoffs.
The teams gathered on Wednesday evening on 4th Street and Avenue P to finish the game. As the visiting team, Shaare Torah stepped to the plate first. Dweck walked the leadoff hitter, and the Stars looked like they might be in business. But, the next batter hit a low liner that Goldberg secured at second. He then flipped the ball to Maleh at first to double up the runner who took off towards second on contact. In an instant, there were two away and the bases were empty. The next batter hit a tough drive into shallow right center, but Habert closed fast and pulled in the sinking fly ball. Three outs, and Flatbush was now coming up to bat.
Lati, the number 8 hitter, looked to get things going, and he did just that by drawing a leadoff walk. The next batter in the lineup was Salem, but with him unavailable to play, Head Coach Howie Fleishman looked to his reserves, and inserted Meyer Kassin, a senior who had played in only one game for the falcons very early in the season. But Kassin is an athlete, and he proved it to all in attendance. with two strikes, Kassin stroked the ball into the gap in left center and it rolled all the way to the fence.
Lati, for his part, was on his horse from the moment the ball left the bat. Legs churning, he rounded third with one thing on his mind – playoffs! Moments later, Lati crossed home plate, the relay throw way too late. Just like that, the game was over. The elated Falcons were moving on to the playoffs and a date with rival Hillel.
NEST NOTES: The win meant Flatbush secured the 8th and final playoff spot. As the last team in, they would draw the top finisher in the MYHSAL, the Hillel Hurricanes of Deal, NJ. Date and time of the quarterfinal playoff game: TBA.