July 25, 2024
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TBO 9U Summer Travel Team Closes Strong

Last summer, the 8U Teaneck Travel team finished first in the Paramus League regular season and made it all the way to the tournament finals. However, with half of last year’s squad away at sleep- away camp this summer, the 9U team needed to rebuild and recruit new talent. Returning travel veterans Netanel Eckman, Yehuda Teitelman, Abie Schwartz, Caleb Wolin, Eli Zaretsky and Joey Zelig welcomed new additions Akiva Boyarsky, Eli Knapp, Alex McGuire, Avishai Najman, Binyamin Rubin and Aaron Schmutter.

After an unimpressive 0-3 start, the players settled into their positions and started to see the fruits of extensive practice. All aspects of their game were improving: hitting, bunting, leading, stealing, sliding and even making better fielding choices. The team’s defense came through, holding opposing teams to an average of 3.7 runs per game, which was the second best of the 14 teams in the tournament. Behind the plate, Eckman held the opposition to the fewest stolen bases in a league that allows unlimited steals, including the ability to steal home.

As the season progressed, Teaneck’s bats came alive with TBO beating Jersey City 20-1, including a triple by Najman and solid hits by Knapp and Rubin. Teaneck also recorded lopsided victories against Wanaque 11-2, Hawthorne 14-0 and Woodridge 12-0. One turning point in the season, as well as a confidence booster for TBO, was a 6-3 victory at Votee Park’s Clubhouse over the division leading Paramus squad. The game featured pitching by Zaretsky, Wolin, Teitelman and Schwartz. A key catch in the outfield by McGuire helped retire the side in the final inning.

Teaneck entered the playoffs as the sixth seed, with a 6-5-1 record, an impressive turnaround from a 0-3 start. Their opponent in the first round was Maywood. When the two teams met during the regular season it ended in a tie. The one-two punch of Zaretsky and Wolin handled the pressure on the mound beautifully keeping Maywood to a single run. Maywood loaded the bases and threatened in the final inning, but Teaneck shut them down to come out ahead 2-1.

In the quarter finals, TBO faced the number-three seed Wayne. During the regular season, Wayne beat Teaneck 2-1. Once again, the pitching of Zaretsky and Wolin, and some nifty fielding by middle infielders Schwartz and Zelig, allowed the team to hold Wayne to one run. On offense, a well-timed bunt by Schmutter led to an RBI opportunity for Boyarsky. Zaretsky and Eckman also drove runs in leading Teaneck to a 3-1 victory and advancement to the semi-finals.

TBO’s next and final challenge was against Paterson. Unfortunately, Teaneck was not able to be the eventual champs and TBO’s 9U season ended in the semi-finals. The players were obviously disappointed, but walked away with their heads held high after demonstrating that they could compete at a high level.

9U’s head coach, Chaim Schwartz, along with assistant coaches Joseph Zaretsky, Ari Eckman, Josh Zelig and Howard Teitelman were very proud of all that the team accomplished this summer. A special thank you to Coach Schwartz for all of his efforts on behalf of the kids! Much appreciation to the parents and families who sacrificed their Sundays and weeknights to cheer on the team and carpooled the kids to and from games and practices. Shout out to Benny Zelig, the TBO team bat boy, whose positive spirit kept the players smiling. Finally, congratulations to all the 9U players who demonstrated great baseball skills, determination and, most of all true, sportsmanship throughout the season.

By Howard and Yehuda Teitelman

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