On a murky Wednesday night (4/25), the Flatbush Varsity Baseball team sent its ace hurler up against his counterpart from Ramaz, and the two engaged in a classic pitchers’ duel from start to finish. But, two early defensive miscues gave the Rams the slim cushion they needed to defeat the Falcons in the regular season opener for Flatbush by the score of 2-0 at Richmond County Bank Ballpark at St. George, the home of the New York Yankees Single A Minor League affiliate, on Staten Island, NY.
In the days approaching this game, it was highly questionable as to whether or not the weather would accommodate the playing of this game as scheduled, but with the rain stopping early in the afternoon, the groundskeeper and his crew assured the Falcons and Rams that the field would be ready and playable for game time – and it was. But, the weather still would play a role in the evening’s events, as a thickening fog descended midway through the game, and made fielding fly balls a significant challenge in the late innings.
Coming off a 3rd Place finish in the Ezra Schwartz Memorial Baseball Tournament the previous weekend, in which the bats finally came alive in the final game and half of the contests in Sharon, Massachusetts, and armed with the knowledge that their pitching ace would be well rested and on the hill, the Flacons came in to their regular season opener with much confidence. Ramaz had reason to be confident as well, as they came in have won their opening game (a 7-2 victory over SAR), and would also be sending their top pitcher to the mound.
As the visiting team, Flatbush had first crack at plating runs, but the Ram pitcher showed that would be a tough task from the start, setting down the three top Flatbush batters in order on a ground out, a pop out and a strikeout.
Falcon Ace pitcher Dani Sharabi then strode to the minor league mound, and started pumping in strikes to his catcher, Marty Elmekies. Sharabi did exactly what Coaches Elliot Zakay and Bret Beard were looking for him to do – throw strikes and induce ground balls.
Unfortunately, the defense was a little shaky at the start. Sharabi got the lead-off hitter to hit a grounder to Eddie Sorscher at 3rd Base, but his hurried throw sailed past the soft-handed Simon Masry at 1st, allowing the runner to advance to second. Sharabi then induced another grounder from the number two hitter, which was fielded cleanly by Shortstop Abie Soussan, but after looking back the runner at second, his throw pulled Masry off bag. Instead of two outs and no one on, Ramaz was threatening to open a big inning with runners on the corners with no one out. Ramaz wasted no time in taking advantage of the errors, as the next batter his a single, plating the first run of the game. Sharabi got the next three batters with ease, the first out on a fly ball caught by Sol Franco in Rightfield, the second out on a grounder to Masry at 1st and the last out on another grounder to Sorscher at 3rd, which he corralled and sent easily over to Masry to end the threat.
Masry led off the 2nd inning with a solid single, but he would advance no further as the next three batters were all unable to put the ball in play as each one struck out. Ramaz also led off their half of the inning with a hit, a double that just sailed over the head of Mo Goldman in Leftfield. It would be the hardest hit ball Ramaz got in the game. Sharabi retired the next batter on a soft grounder in front of the mound, and got out number two as the next batter looked at strike three. Sharabi was nearly out of the inning, when with two strikes on the batter, his pitch sailed high and out of the reach of Elmekies, allowing the runner to easily score from third. The next pitch was strike three, but Ramaz had doubled its lead, 2-0 at the end of two innings of play.
The pitchers both settled into a groove from that point on. Flatbush would threaten only twice more in the game. With two out in the top of the third, Goldman laced a solid single and then stole second base. That brought up Murray Dweck. Dweck made great contact, driving the ball to Centerfield, but it hung up just long enough the the Ram outfielder to range over and make the catch to end the inning. Flatbush had one other opportunity to make something happen, and that came in the top of the 6th inning. This time it was Dweck who got a two-out single. He was off with the next pitch, which Sol Laniado offered at, but Laniado’s stroke looped into Rightfield, where it was pulled in on the run to end the inning.
Ramaz was no more successful the rest of the way either. Sharabi was in control, and the Falcon defense converted every chance. Sorscher snared a low line drive in the 3rd inning, Laniado and levy navigated the thickening fog to secure fly balls in the bottoms of the 4th and 6th innings respectively and Soussan secured 5 more grounders to assist on the putouts.
Sharabi was masterful on the mound, inducing grounder after grounder, yielding only 4 hits on the night while striking out 5 and walking two.
Unfortunately, the Falcon batters were even less effective that the Rams, getting only three hits on the night while striking out 11 times. Ramaz made the two early gifted runs stand up for the 2-0 win.
NEST NOTES: Flatbush will have a few days to learn from the loss as they will look to get that first regular season win against a familiar opponent. The Falcons travel to Paramus, NJ on Sunday, April 29, where they will take on the Frisch Cougars for the third time this season. The two teams split their games in Massachusetts, each winning by lopsided scores. Game time for this MYHSAL regular season match up is 12:30 pm at the Paramus Sports-Plex (Paramus Road and Garden State Plaza Boulevard).