(Clockwise starting from the bottom right): Cary Bayer, Larry Feigenbaum, David Denenberg, Jeff Becker, Jeff Gaier, David Pressel, Jason Grebin, David Kramer, Steve Weissman, David Saxl, Mark Licht, Rob Lazarus
PLAYERS NOT PICTURED: Mel Prager, Matt Katz, Eric Rothfeld, Michael Somekh

Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel of South Orange beat the Temple Emanuel “E-Men” of Livingston in the championship game of the Livingston Temple Softball League “A” Division on Sunday, August 4, 2013 at Heritage School in Livingston.

The E-Men, the defending champions and the top seeded team heading into the playoff tournament, ran into the buzz-saw that was a Sharey Tefilo squad committed to winning its first “A” Division title since 2004.

As the visiting team, TSTI wasted no time getting on the board. Jason Grebin (3 for 3 and an intentional walk, with 4 RBI), hit a blistering two-out home run to center field to put the winners up 2-0. The E-Men tried matching TSTI’s show of power in the bottom of the inning and came close, but great catches by centerfielder Larry Feigenbaum on a couple of deep fly balls, limited the E-Men to just 2 runs in the bottom of the frame.

In the second inning, TSTI rookie shortstop Jeff Becker (2 for 4 with 2 RBI) made his former team pay for cutting him loose, with a 2-run homer of his own. The E-Men took the lead by scoring 3 runs in their half of the 2nd, with leftfielder Dave Denenberg and starting pitcher Cary Bayer both suffering finger injuries that might have sidelined less determined players. Both men stayed in the game and contributed with stellar defense and some timely hits.

TSTI could only muster one run in the third inning, when David Kramer scored after reaching base on his screaming line drive single to right field, and the E-Men took advantage, scoring 3 more runs to increase their advantage to 8-5.

But in the fourth inning, Sharey Tefilo displayed the explosive offense that allowed them to lead the league this season in runs scored. Their 8-run outburst was set up nicely by sharp singles from Denenberg (2 hits, 1 RBI), David Saxl (2 hits) and Dave Pressel (3 for 4), extended by clutch two-out hits from Bayer and winning pitcher Mark Licht (3 for 4 with 3 runs scored), and capped by Steve Weissman’s (3 for 4 with 4 RBI) monster 3-run homer.

The E-Men, now trailing 13-8, were limited to just 2 fourth inning runs the rest of the game. The TSTI defense, which allowed the fewest runs in the league this season, stymied the self-proclaimed favorites – led by the shrewd signal calling of catchers Rob Lazarus and Jeff Gaier.

A sixth inning insurance run and Feigenbaum’s running shoestring catch to start the seventh, provided the final daggers needed to dethrone the mighty E-Men. While the absence of 3 of TSTI’s star players (Matt Katz, Eric Rothfeld and Michael Somekh) might have discouraged a lesser team, TSTI rose to the occasion and took full advantage of their opportunities. The final score speaks for itself.

Team manager, Mel Prager, managing from Europe, was nearly brought to tears by the news of his beloved team capturing the title. Mel said, “I always knew we could do it. This is a team of destiny and a heck of a bunch of great guys. This is a wonderful day for them and for Temple Sharey Tefilo Israel.”

TSTI looks forward to defending their crown in 2014.


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