What happens when you lose multiple key players to injuries while dropping five of your first six games of a new season? That may sound like a recipe for a one-way ticket down to Congregation Bnai Yeshurun Men’s Club Softball’s B League, but for the Knockers, the unlikely answer was the 2013 A League title. The Knockers overcame a slow start to the season and steamrolled through the playoffs en route to a two-game sweep of the top-seeded B Leaguered in the championship round on Sunday, August 18.
The second half of the Knockers’ championship season was almost the mirror image of the first. Instead of scouring the ranks of high schoolers and retired league veterans each week in order to field a team on Sunday morning, Captain Josh Aron was able to count on a consistent lineup. Sloppy play in the infield disappeared thanks to the steady glove and vocal (opponents would say TOO vocal) leadership of shortstop Jeremy Nussbaum, who joined the team midseason. Balls that might have previously gone for extra base hits were snagged by the fleet footed Noam Block in centerfield after his return from an ankle injury. And most importantly, pitcher Yitz Greenbaum hit peak form, stifling opposing batters with hard breaking pitches, pitching a shutout in the opening round of the playoffs and allowing just 2.5 runs per game in the postseason.
With Nussbaum’s constant chatter providing the soundtrack, the Knockers won enough games down the stretch to grab the fifth seed for the playoffs and set up an opening round clash with the fourth-seeded Tribe. Greenbaum won a tight pitching duel and the Knockers advanced with a 3-0 win. In the semifinal round, the Knockers faced the formidable New Crew, who had posted a 10-4 record in the regular season, good enough for second best in the league. Two of New Crew’s four losses, however, had come at the hands of the Knockers. For six innings, there was little to separate the two teams (other than the volume level in the infield), but the Knockers’ bats came alive in the final inning and they romped to a 9-3 victory to set up the decisive best-of-three game series with B Leaguered.
The favorites’ late rally in the bottom of the seventh inning fell short in game one, and the Knockers held on for a 9-6 win. Game two looked a lot like the Knockers’ semifinal matchup with New Crew, as the score was knotted at 1-1 until late in the game, when the Knockers once again staged a big late game rally to run away with the game and take the championship.