Baseball season didn’t end in the spring for a group of determined and committed Teaneck boys playing summer travel baseball in the 8U division. The near daily practices and games for the past six weeks have resulted in an amazing 11-1 record in the Paramus Summer Tournament and a first-place team finish in the regular season. The condensed schedule and more intense competition allowed for very little relaxation time, but any trepidation in the beginning of the season quickly faded into smiles after seeing how the players and team matured.
It was amazing to see how much fun the kids had on the field, playing at a new level. Veteran leaders Jack Ruditzky and Jordy Sheinfeld returned from last summer’s team, along with Joshua Markovitz, Judah Vogel, and Liev Wolin who joined the travel team last fall. Rounding out the team this year was Eli Altman, Shay Fields, Shalom Spraragen, Gavi Weinstein, David Grunstein, and Sam Wartelsky. Coach Norm Blumenthal was back again in his quest for a championship (or even a victory over the powerhouse Paramus A team) and was helped by David Ruditzky, Yudy Sheinfeld, and Avi Vogel as coaching staff.
The coaches always stressed the need for the boys to hit in order to win at this level, and the team responded during the first game with a 12-0 mercy win over Teaneck Southern White. The players hit the ball hard and often, with Markovitz and Sheinfeld on base all three times and the team collecting 12 hits overall before the game was called after 4 innings.
Glen Rock was next, and this game held tremendous importance for many of the players as this was the team that ended the 8U fall playoff run last year. TBO jumped out to a 4-1 lead and pulled away in the 4th inning with 6 runs and another mercy victory with a final score of 14-2. Ruditzky led the way with a double and triple and strong pitching.
Continuing its dominance, Teaneck next beat Teaneck Southern Blue for its third straight mercy win with great at bats and solid pitching for a 15-3 win.
The Ramsey game, which was next, held the first true challenge for the team. Ramsey’s ace pitcher held Teaneck to 1 run over the first 2 innings as Ramsey led 3-1. TBO was down 5-3 in the 5th inning, but all the batting practice paid off as Teaneck scored 3 runs in the top of the sixth and held on to win 6-5. Vogel had two hard shots to the outfield for a double and a triple for a total of 4 RBI.
Paramus B was next, and once again the opponent proved no match for the Teaneck pitchers as they threw a shutout coasting to an 8-0 victory. Ruditzky, Markovitz, Altman, and Vogel all had multi-hit games.
A rematch vs. Teaneck Southern White was another big win with a final 24-0 score. This game gave TBO the opportunity to call up Noam Eckman and Rami Knapp from the practice team, as they each contributed with hits and scored 7 combined runs. Ruditzky and Grunstein each came up big with 5 hits and 4 hits respectively, while Wartelsky came through with a hit and scored twice as well.
Saddle Brook gave TBO a tough fight, but ultimately the TBO pitching and hitting was too much and TBO secured a 10-1 victory. Ruditzky, Fields, and Spraragen had multi-hit games.
Next up, Rochelle Park visited Teaneck and put up a good battle. Pitchers Spraragen, Wolin, Markovitz, and Ruditzky held them to 1 run while Fields came up with the defensive play of the season, with a full-extension, over-the-shoulder grab of a line drive crushed deep to left field. A 3-run third inning for TBO was enough to push the lead and final score to 4-1.
The true challenge for this team was to keep the momentum going with four games left to go and three of them versus the top teams in the league. Against Hawthorne, TBO immediately proved it was up to the challenge facing a talented team with strong pitching. Teaneck pitchers continued their dominance with their best performance of the year. Ruditzky threw 4 innings and Wolin 2 to combine for a no hitter and a total of 16 strikeouts. Singles by Ruditzky, Markovitz, and Wolin in the 3rd inning plated 2 runs in the impressive 2-0 victory.
The battle of the unbeaten was next as TBO traveled to Wayne for a night game. The long road trip along with a stellar catcher from Wayne led to three TBO runners being thrown out trying to steal third and shutting down key rallies. Overall TBO continued with solid pitching and defense (highlighted by a relay throw from deep right field by Grunstein to Markovitz to Fields to get an out at third), but the lack of scoring led to the first loss of the season. However, a 2-0 loss to an undefeated team showed Teaneck that it could play with anyone in the league. A rematch vs. Glen Rock was up next and put the team back on the win side and a 12-0 shutout over 4 innings.
With their 10-1 record, Teaneck had one game left in the regular season, and it was the biggest challenge yet against the powerhouse Paramus A team. Coach Norm, in all his years with TBO, had yet to beat a top Paramus team and everyone knew that it would take a complete team game to make TBO history. The entire team showed up ready to play. Teaneck took a lead 3-1 in the bottom of the 1st off singles by Ruditzky, Markovitz, and Altman. Paramus scraped together runs in the 2nd and 3rd inning to tie the game at 3-3. The turning point of the game came when Paramus scored 2 more runs off a missed call by the umpire at first during the 5th inning giving Paramus a 5-3 lead. Teaneck was going to have to come from behind and rally for the win. Paramus felt the pressure, as well, and walked the bases loaded with only one out in the 5th for TBO leadoff hitter Jack Ruditzky. Ruditzky hit a double to tie the game and singles by Markovitz and Altman brought the lead to 7-5. The top of the sixth was two quick strikeouts and a groundout to shortstop to end the game and regular season with real excitement. Coach Norm finally had his win!
With an 11-1 season TBO has locked in the number one seed for the upcoming playoffs and a first round bye. With a week to go between games there will be six practice sessions and one off day before the final run at a championship. Whatever happens in the playoffs, it has been an incredible season that none of the players, coaches, or families will forget.