Friday, January 22, 2021

Focus can make all the difference. Great pitching doesn’t hurt either.

Coming off of a painful loss last Thursday night against Leonia, Teaneck 14U rebounded in a big way, taking this matchup against Saddle Brook decisively, 8-1. The TBO boys looked stronger in every phase of the game, swinging good bats, staying much sharper in the field, and pitching, pitching, pitching its way to the win.

Ryan Buchsbayew took the mound to start the game for Teaneck, issuing a walk but striking out one and inducing two balls back to the box in his short, scoreless stint. TBO looked to be getting off to a fast start when Joey Weisberg led off the game with an infield single, but the team ended up coming away scoreless after a fielder’s choice and a pair of strikeouts.

Akiva Rotenberg took the hill for Teaneck in the top of the second, and he brought his good stuff in this one. Rotenberg ended up going three for TBO, bewildering Saddle Brook’s hitters and striking out eight batters. He allowed just one run in the second after a solid, one-out double to Saddle Brook leadoff hitter Justin, who came around to score on a groundout later in the inning.


Teaneck mounted a big bottom of the second to jump out to a 5-1 lead. Jared Reich led off with a walk, followed by a walk to Noah Lowe. Saddle Brook’s Wilson managed to work a strikeout of Joshie Rabitz for the first out, but then Michael Greenberg lashed a ball that the Saddle Brook third baseman could not handle, loading the bases for Weisberg. Weisberg delivered an RBI single to make it 1-1. Buchsbayew then followed with an RBI single of his own to push it to 2-1. The inning saw additional hits from Rotenberg, Kantowitz and Reich, along with aggressive baserunning—mixed with some wildness by Wilson—and three more runs came home.

TBO added a run in the fourth when Jason Gamss led off with a walk, stole second, advanced to third on a wild pitch and then came home on Reich’s RBI groundout to second. The team tacked on two more in the fifth thanks to singles from Buchsbayew and Rotenberg and a line drive by Gamss that skipped off the glove of the Saddle Brook second baseman.

Back in the field, Rabitz took over the pitching duties for TBO in the fifth inning. He rung up Saddle Brook leadoff man Justin to start his outing. After surrendering a solid single to Saddle Brook’s John, he got Denny to ground back to the mound and then another strikeout, swinging, of cleanup hitter Nick. In the fifth, Rabitz gave up a leadoff single to Jacob. Saddle Brook’s Ryan then lofted a high fly to left. Greenberg parked under it but was unable to make a clean catch. Greenberg recovered quickly however and threw a strike to second to record an assist to retire Jacob.

Controversy then erupted. Ryan was called out for throwing his bat, his team having already been warned earlier in the game. A delay then followed as one of Saddle Brook’s coaches was ejected for arguing the call. When play resumed, an undaunted Rabitz struck out Brian for the third out to finish his own strong outing.

Gamss came on to close it out in the seventh—the first time TBO managed to get in a full game before curfew this season—and he looked strong. Gamss got Luis and Brady to strikeout swinging, and then leadoff hitter Justin grounded back to the box to end it.

After a disastrous couple of games on defense, TBO met before the game to refocus and the discussion seems to have helped.

“I just told them they need to force themselves to focus throughout the game,” said Coach David Greenberg. “I told them they owe each other full effort on every pitch. This game is funny. Somehow, if you have a player who takes a pitch off, the ball manages to find him, over and over. Tonight they really looked much better. Guys were loose but locked in as the pitcher went into his delivery pretty much all night. The couple of mistakes we made were physical errors, and unlike last time, we stayed locked in and limited the damage this time.”

“A few of the guys got in some BP earlier this afternoon,” added coach Ben Reich. “It made a difference out there.”

TBO hopes to get back out there to play Tenafly Wednesday night. Teaneck’s neighbors to the northeast are waiting out a COVID-19-related shutdown and it is not clear when they will be cleared to resume play.