Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Frisch Cougars, champions of the Columbus Invitational.

The Columbus Invitational runners-up TABC Storm

Last weekend, the Frisch Cougars, led by head coach Ari Rubin, joined 10 other yeshivot from around the country in Ohio for the annual Columbus Baseball Invitational. The Cougars, who haven’t lost a league game since May of 2014, were looking to avenge their early exit in CBI in 2015, after losing in the quarterfinals to their rivals, the Kushner Cobras. Thus, the eager Frisch team dubbed their trip the “Revenge Tour.”

The journey began with a game on Thursday against the Atlanta Jewish Academy Jaguars. Frisch had no problem handling Atlanta; they came out strong and established their presence with a dominant 10-1 victory. Seniors Jono Rubin and Raphe Shankman, two cornerstone defensive players, helped power the explosive Frisch offense for the entire tournament.

The following morning in a game against Ida Crown Jewish Academy (ICJA), Frisch won 11-0, finishing the qualifying round at 2-0 with a +20 run differential, and locking up the 1 seed heading into the next round of play. Frisch was able to keep their players fresh with strong pitching performances by senior captain Jared Caplan, sophomore Gabe Spiegel, and junior Rafi Jacobs, as well as crucial innings from seniors Matty Reinhart and Andrew Gellerstein, sophomore Daniel Fischoff and freshmen Evan Caplan, Jack Reinhart and Benny Matheson. The Frisch bench is not only the deepest in the league, but it is also a source of vibrant energy.

On Friday afternoon, Frisch got a matchup that could not have been written up better in Hollywood: they drew Kushner—to whom they lost in the quarterfinals in 2015—and were playing on the same field with the same pitching matchup of Frisch’s RJ Fischer vs. Kushner’s Sam Bernstein. Frisch was amped up from the first pitch, and after an early lead they never looked back, scoring 12 runs off the Cobras in 5 innings while riding Fischer’s shutout. Frisch’s win by mercy rule showed just how focused they were on their goal this time around.

After an enjoyable, albeit rainy Shabbat, the Cougars were ready to face the ICJA aces for their semifinal bid. After several hours of delay and a flight issue on Sunday, SAR was forced to forfeit their semifinal game to catch their flight back to New York. TABC got a bye to the championship game, but the Cougars still had to take on the Aces at noon.

Riding the strong pitching performance of senior captain Isaac Seelenfreund—who tossed 7 innings of 3-run ball to a strong ICJA lineup—Frisch once again exploded offensively. Most of the scoring came in the fifth inning, capped off by catcher Mark Abramovitz’s 2-RBI triple. The Cougars then had a 10-3 lead that they did not relinquish. The stage was set: Cougars vs. Storm, a repeat of the 2015 MYHSAL Championship game, which the Cougars won 5-2.

The all-New-Jersey affair started off very slowly. The first several innings were a pitching duel between Frisch’s Jake Lebovitch and TABC’s Yechiel Keiser. TABC struck first, scoring twice to take the lead. Jared Caplan was pulled from the game at second base and replaced by Daniel Fischoff, but that did not stop the captain from inspiring his team.

Trailing 2-1 in the fifth inning, Caplan delivered with a bases-clearing 3-RBI triple. This gave the Cougars a 4-2 lead. Jake Lebovitch finished the game strong, with help from an incredible diving catch by Jordan Feigenblum in the last inning. The Cougars won the tournament. Captain Isaac Seelenfreund was awarded the tournament MVP trophy for his outstanding pitching and hitting, as well as his leadership both on and off the field. Frisch finished the tournament with a +41 run differential, establishing themselves as the best yeshiva team in the country.

Cougars coach Rubin as well as Rabbi Ariel Auman made the Cougars’ participation in the tournament a reality.

By Mark Abramovitz