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Friday, May 16, 2014

Falcon's Nest Notes: Baseball Goes Extra Innings - Sweeps day/night doubleheader

Yeshivah of Flatbush Varsity Baseball Team
Playing on the road is always a good test of a team’s focus and concentration. Playing a doubleheader on the road is doubly challenging. Playing those two games at two different locations – on a holiday weekend, no less - is a daunting task taken to the extreme. Nevertheless, this is the challenge the Flatbush Varsity Baseball team faced this past Sunday as they traveled to New Jersey to take on two quality rivals; facing off with SAR in Englewood, NJ in the opener and finishing of the day tackling Frisch in Paramus, NJ in the closer. In the end, the Falcons came up aces, returning to Flatbush in the late recesses of the night two wins richer for the experience.
The Falcons loosen up before game one of the day/night doubleheader
With a last-minute decision to change venues for the opener (due to flooding on the original site), the Flatbush boys arrived to Mackay Park in Englewood to start what would prove to be a marathon day of baseball. The park offered a synthetic grass field, ideal with all the rain that fell in the area, and with the sun shining high in the sky the conditions were ideal for baseball.
Ace Ralph Navarro gets ready to deliver a pitch in the opener against SAR in Englewood, NJ
This would be the second time these two teams would face-off this season, with SAR making a first-inning run stand up in a 1-0 victory in Brooklyn. As the visiting team, Flatbush would have the first crack at getting on the board. Unable to muster any offense the last time facing SAR, the offense still looked confounded by the SAR pitching as the first three batters went down in order by strikeout. But with Ralph Navarro on the hill for the Falcons, the Sting was also held scoreless in the first, with Navarro benefitting from a solid play from outfielder Michael Shalom on a line drive to left field.
Michael Shalom prepares to snare the line drive to retire SAR’s lead-off hitter
Flatbush had its first scoring threat in the top of the second inning when Michael Haddad led off the inning by legging out an infield single, then promptly swiping second base. Michael Tawil followed that up by drawing a walk. But Haddad got overconfident in his stealth, and was thrown out trying to steal third. The Falcons then registered two more outs around a walk to end the threat. Meanwhile, Navarro settled into a groove; he set down the Sting in order – all by strikeout – in the bottom of the second, and carried that momentum the rest of the way. In the top of the fifth, the Falcons finally pushed one across against SAR. With runners on first and second, Morris Bijou laid down a beautiful bunt. An errant throw on the play allowed Michael Haddad to score, giving Navarro all the cushion he would need. With solid defense to back him up, Navarro shut out the Sting for three more innings, securing a 1-0 victory in the first game of the day.
Michael Haddad would score the only run of the game
 in Flatbush’s 1-0 win over SAR
After a stop for lunch in nearby Teaneck, it was on to Paramus and an evening tilt with the Cougars of Frisch. With the start delayed due to difficulty finding the field, the Falcons were soon ready to have at it, this time with the team’s other left-handed Senior hurler, Joey Dayon. The Falcons let in two runs in the bottom of the first inning (aided by a defensive throwing error). After that, Dayon showed his solid form, shutting out the Cougars for the rest of the inning and the next five after that.

Teddy Beyda recorded his first career hit,
knotting the game at 2-2
With Dayon settling in, the Flatbush bats finally came alive. In the top of the second, Freshman Teddy Beyda collected his first-ever Varsity hit – and a big hit it was! Beyda drove a hard single, plating two and tying the game. The Falcons took the lead in the top of the 6th on a Moe Maleh RBI; it was 3-2 Falcons! Now, all the Falcons needed were two solid innings of defense to close out the game and head home. Dayon took care of business setting down Frisch in the bottom of the sixth. The Falcons then called on Ralph Navarro to close out the second game of the day in the bottom of the seventh. The Cougars managed to get runners on 1st and 2nd. With two outs, Navarro induced a slow roller, which the batter was on his way to beating out, but the late throw was also thrown wide of Moe Maleh at First base allowing the tying run to score. However, the play was not over. Frisch, looking to win the game, tried to score the runner from first. Maleh chased down the errant throw, turned and threw the ball home. The ball beat the runner, and with the tag easily applied the inning was over – on to extras!
Moe Maleh (shown playing the field in game one)
came up big on defense to help lift the Falcons
Sam Laniado drove in the winning run
 by drawing a bases-loaded walk
in the top of the 11th inning

Navarro would pitch two more innings without yielding another run, but neither could the Falcons push one across in that time. With Dayon and Navarro both out of gas, Coach Hall looked to a new source for late-inning pitching in Maleh. Maleh kept the Cougars scoreless in the 10th, setting the stage for the drama of the 11th inning. Maleh would open the top half of the 11th with a single. Navarro followed with a single of his own to put runners on 1st and 2nd with nobody out. Elliot Zakay was the next batter, and he laid down a beautiful sacrifice bunt, moving the runners to 2nd and 3rd with one out. With two chances to knock in the winning run, the first quickly went by the wayside when Beyda struck out. The next batter was Michael Shalom. With two outs, the Frisch pitcher intentionally walked Shalom to set up a force at any base. That would bring up Freshman Sam Laniado. With the bases loaded and two out, Laniado battled and worked the count to a full 3-2 count. Showing patience and discipline, he laid off of ball four, drawing a bases-loaded walk to drive in the go-ahead run. The next batter would be retired, but Flatbush now had the lead, 4-3! Maleh would make it stand up, setting down the Cougars without a whimper and securing the game, and his first career win as a pitcher.

After a long day of baseball, the Falcons battled two quality opponents, earning 1-run victories in both ends of the doubleheader, and an enjoyable – albeit very late – return to Brooklyn.

Nest Notes:
With the win, the Falcons moved their record to 4-1, earning a 3-seed in the upcoming Columbus Baseball Invitational Tournament starting Sunday (5/18 – 5/20). The game against Frisch marked the first time this season the Falcons would need extra-innings to determine a winner. In addition to recording his first career hit, Teddy Beyda hat the hot glove, recording 9 put-out/assists at Third base. Moe Maleh, in earning his first career victory, pitched two innings of shutout relief, recording two strikeouts while not giving up a hit or a walk.

Flatbush returns to action with a match-up with perennial League power Kushner at Comer Field in Brooklyn on Wednesday night. It is the team’s last game before heading to Columbus, OH for the three-day tournament.