Though still struggling to score runs, the Flatbush Varsity Baseball team pushed two runs across in the last two innings of their game on a murky, foggy Monday night (5/14), avoiding defeat and earning a 2-2 tie with the visiting North Shore Stars at Comer Field in Brooklyn, NY.
At the outset, it looked like it would be another frustrating night for the Flatbush Baseball Falcons. With their ace pitcher Dani Sharabi on the mound, they started the late night contest by walking the first two batters of the game. Looking to get a strike over, Sharabi laid the ball over the plate, and the Stars number 3 hitter deposited it over the left field fence for a ground rule double and a 2-0 lead. It might have been worse, as the next hitter laced a single into Center. But Falcon Centerfielder Sol Laniado came up with a defensive gem, throwing a strike from the outfield to Catcher Marty Elmekies at the plate who applied the tag for the first out of the game. Sharabi settled in after that, getting the next to batters on lazy ground outs, one a comebacker to the mound and the other a roller to Nathan Shabot at second base, to end the threat.
Flatbush came up to bat and continued to display futility at the plate as the top three batters all went down on strikes. At the end of one inning of play, it was 2-0 North Shore.
Defensively, the Falcons were definitely now in synch. Sharabi was masterful on the mound, facing the minimum number of batters over the ensuing four innings. Facing the bottom of the order in the 2nd, he struck out the first two batters, than got the number 9 hitter to ground out to Shortstop Abie Soussan. The hardest hit ball the rest of the way was a liner in the top of the 4th inning that was snagged by Shabot at second base. That was followed by a ground ball with eyes that put a Stars runner on first. He was erased, though, when he was gunned down by Elmekies while trying to swipe second base. The 5th inning saw the Falcons retire the Stars in order again, with a pair of Sharabi strikeouts sandwiching a stellar play by Soussan who went deep in the hole at short and came up firing to nab the runner by hair as Simon Masry stretched to secure the throw.
Meanwhile, the Falcons finally got some pressure on the North Shore pitcher. After going down 1-2-3 for a second straight inning, Flatbush got two base runners in the bottom of the third on a pair of walks, but could not capitalize to score either one. Finally, in the 4th inning Flatbush broke through to plate a run. After Murray Dweck connected with the hardest hit ball of the night (though to no avail, as the liner headed towards center was snared by the Stars pitcher), Soussan drew a 2-out walk. Soussan proceeded to steal second, getting himself into scoring position. It paid off, as Sol Franco lifted a short pop into shallow centerfield that fell in between the North Shore shortstop, left-fielder and center-fielder for the Falcons first hit of the game. Soussan sprinted from third and scored for the Falcons, cutting the deficit in half.
With the clock winding down (there is a 2-hour time limit on MYHSAL games), it was clear that the 5th inning would be the last. With Sharabi having set the Stars down in order in the top half, it was now up to the Falcon offense to make something happen in the bottom half of the inning to avoid yet another League defeat. Sharabi was the lead-off hitter in the inning, and facing a new pitcher for the Stars he worked a lead-off walk. Shabot was inserted to run for the Flatbush pitcher, and he quickly stole second base, and then took third. After a strikeout by pinch hitter Eddie Sorscher, Mo Goldman also drew a walk. That brought up Sol Laniado. Taking the first pitch, he allowed Goldman also to advance to scoring position. But, the bat was taken out of Laniado’s hands as the pitcher hit Laniado with a pitch. The bases were now loaded with only one out and Masry coming to the plate. When Masry also drew a walk, Shabot was forced home and the game was tied! Unfortunately, Flatbush could not get that next run across the plate. It looked like Goldman might have had a chance to score on a wild pitch, but he did not go thinking the ball had not moved far enough away from the catcher to score safely. Still, all Flatbush needed was to put the ball in play. But, Dweck and then Soussan both came up empty. The side was retired and the umpire called the game. It would go in the books as a 2-2 tie, no winner and no loser.
Afterwards, a frustrated Head Coach Eric Hall stressed the need to take care of the fundamentals while on the bases and at the plate. However, he was clearly pleased with the play of his boys in the field. “Our defense is definitely a plus for us,” stated Hall. “After he settled down, Dani [Sharabi] was everything we expect him to be on the mound. Abie [Soussan] is playing a very solid shortstop for us, and I was really impressed with what I saw from Nathan [Shabot] at second base.” It is now a matter of getting the bats back on track to match the defensive efficiency.
NEST NOTES: Flatbush has three games remaining in League play, and they will likely need to get a win in at least one, if not two, of them to secure a playoff spot. Their next chance to get that first League win will come on Thursday, May 17, when they will host the Heschel Heat at Comer Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:00 pm.