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Wednesday, May 12, 2021
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Strong Pitching, Timely Hits Deliver TBO 14U ‘Red’ Wins Over Woodcliff Lake, Cliffside Park

“Baseball like it oughta be.” That was the way coaches and fans summed up a pair of thrilling games this week for TBO’s 14U Red team. At Woodcliff Lake on Tuesday night, Teaneck edged out the WCL Warriors by a 3-2 final score. Then on Sunday, TBO bested Cliffside Park/Fairview 5-1.

Excellent pitching dominated the Tuesday night WCL contest, especially on Teaneck’s side. Four TBO pitchers combined to hold WCL to just two runs, racking up 11 strikeouts along the way.

Ryan Buchsbayew started the game for TBO. Buchsbayew looked as good as ever, striking out the side in the first while issuing one walk, then adding two more Ks in the second.

In the third, Teaneck’s Joshie Rabitz came on in relief, keeping Warriors hitters completely off balance with a mix of fastballs and breaking balls. Rabitz struck out two of the first three men he faced, and later added another K in the fifth. His only hiccup came in the fourth, allowing a leadoff single to WCL’s #2 hitter, Mulligan, who later scored on a double by cleanup hitter Lundgren.

It was Isaac Kantowitz’s turn to toe the rubber in the sixth, leading 3-1. With Akiva Rotenberg’s availability unclear due to short rest, Red needed a solid outing by Kantowitz to get them to the seventh inning. Kantowitz did not disappoint. He issued a leadoff walk to WCL’s Herrington, but Buchsbayew, who had moved behind the plate, gunned down Herrington stealing third. Kantowitz then rebounded to strike out WCL leadoff man Pietrunti. The Warriors’ Mulligan lashed a hard double, but Kantowitz induced an RBI groundout from #3 hitter Singleton, and another grounder from cleanup hitter Lundgren, to end the inning with TBO clinging to a 3-2 lead.

On came Rotenberg to close it out, and he was electric.

The Warriors’ Giblin led off the seventh, managing to stick out his bat and weakly pop up to shallow short. The ball fell for an error, and WCL thought it might have something cooking. Rotenberg thought otherwise. First, he blew away the Warriors’ Busame on three pitches—although Giblin managed to steal second. Then, Rotenberg got Nadel to ground out to Kantowitz at short, advancing the runner to third. With two outs, Giblin stood 90 feet away as the tying run. Keeping his cool, Rotenberg dialed it up and struck out WCL’s’s Litt, using high heat to seal the deal for TBO.

On offense, Teaneck’s big inning came in the top of the third. Buchsbayew and Rotenberg singled. Jason Gamss hit into a fielder’s choice, bringing up Kantowitz with two out and runners at the corners. After Gamss stole second, Kantowitz smacked a single into centerfield, driving home the two runners. Kantowitz alertly took second on the Warriors’ throw home, which drew another throw from WCL’s catcher. When that throw went into centerfield, Kantowitz was off to the races again, heading for third and finally trucking home.

It was an emotional day for Teaneck. Before the game got underway, the team unveiled a patch that players will wear on their shoulders this spring in memory of TBO Super-Fan Joe Rotenberg. “Grandpa Joe,” a tremendous supporter of the team, passed away in February.

“This was the most complete game the boys have put together for us in the six-plus years we’ve been coaching them,” said Coach David Greenberg. “It felt right that it came tonight, with Joe’s name on their sleeves for the first time. You can bet that he was watching this game and getting tremendous nachas with every pitch. And he was surely smiling when his grandson stamped an exclamation point on it with that last strikeout.”

***

With Sunday morning’s rain rendering Overpeck Park unplayable for the day, Cliffside Park/Fairview volunteered to host TBO’s home game at CPF’s turf facility. Teaneck Red gratefully accepted, and made itself feel at home on the road.

Buchsbayew made his second consecutive start, building on his strong outing four days earlier. He tossed three shutout innings to C Kantowitz, striking out three and walking none. After getting off to a rocky start in the first by hitting leadoff hitter Yianni, Buchsbayew recovered nicely. He induced a fielder’s choice groundout to 2B Rabitz, followed by a popup to 1B Gamss. The Teaneck faithful then gasped as cleanup hitter Nick Ortiz cracked a high fly to deep right, but RF Michael Greenberg got a bead on it, reached up and snagged it out of the air over his head to keep CPF off the scoreboard. Buchsbayew remained in firm control in the second and deftly pitched out of some two-out trouble in the third.

TBO broke the ice in the bottom of the second. Rabitz led off by getting hit by a pitch on his hand, ultimately advancing all the way around the bases on a series of stolen bases and wild pitches. A post-game exam would reveal no fracture, but Rabitz was an immediate scratch from the day’s pitching rotation. Teaneck then built on its lead in the third on Rotenberg’s RBI-single scoring Abie Fields, making it 2-0. In the fourth, TBO added three more runs on singles from 3B Noah Lowe, Greenberg and Rotenberg again, increasing the score to 5-0.

Rotenberg came on to pitch the fourth and continued his mastery. He faced only one more than the minimum in his three innings of work, striking out six of 10 who faced him. He also got some help via solid defense by Greenberg again in right, Kantowitz at short and Lowe, the newest member of the infield, at third.

With TBO batting in the sixth, Coach Greenberg told Kantowitz to get ready to throw the last inning. Moments later, however, Buchsbayew was hit on his elbow with a pitch, and it was clear he could not catch the final inning. With three of its 12 players already sidelined with injuries, Buchsbayew had to trot out to right field for the seventh, Kantowitz went back behind the dish, and Teaneck handed the ball to Gamss to bring the game home instead.

CPF’s first hitter lofted a fly ball to LF Gavi Greenspan for the first out. Gamss then blew three consecutive fastballs past EH Thomas for the second out. Then, with victory just an out away, things almost went off the rails. Cliffside’s Freddy managed a single. Gamss then appeared—twice—to strike out Derek, but some questionable officiating resulted in a walk. The next batter grounded into what should have been another game-ending play—but 1B Fields was inexplicably ruled to have come off the bag taking the throw. With the bases loaded, Gamss issued another walk to bring home Cliffside’s first run, and the tying run strode to the plate. The batter managed to work the count full, but Gamss kept his cool and finally induced Yianni to pop the ball up in foul ground between home and third. Gamss raced to make the catch himself, securing the win.

“Another great performance by our boys,” said Coach Greenberg after the game. “It may sound cliche, but we really had to overcome some adversity in this one. Some bad breaks near the end, but the kids put down their heads and stayed focused on the prize. I was proud.”

Buchsbayew’s postgame exam revealed no fracture. With he and Rabitz expected to be out for at least a week to 10 days, however, and OF Zach Rothschild recovering from a hand fracture, 2B Jared Reich nursing a leg injury sustained at Woodcliff Lake, and C/OF Joey Weisberg out indefinitely with multiple injuries, Teaneck is woefully short-staffed.

“We’re going to need to tap into our farm system,” Coach Reich quipped after the game.

“We’re going to need to build one first,” Greenberg added.

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