June 13, 2024
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June 13, 2024
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Teaneck 9U Travel All Stars Complete Back to Back NEBAS League Championships

Throughout the summer – 1-2-3 “play hard” and 1-2-3 “practice hard” were the chants heard at the beginning and end of every game and every practice for the Teaneck TBO 9U travel all stars. While other kids were coming home from day camp and chilling out in the air conditioning, the 11 members of the Teaneck 9U team dedicated four to five nights a week to practicing fundamentals and hustling on every play. As a result of their hard work, the team successfully completed a back to back championship season beating Ramsey 2-0 in the championship game at Clubhouse field.

Coaches Ofer Naor and Aaron Simon commented that this team won because of the hard work they put in at practice. “We talked throughout the season—if you practice hard, practice at game speed—you will play like that during the game—and that is what these kids did—no matter the temperature outside. They pushed each other to get better. They supported each other and together they took home the championship.”

As they say, pitching and defense win championships and that is how this team was built. In fact, before a few of the games, the coaches from the other teams were overheard commenting, “We know these guys—they are going to make every play—so, we need to be sharp.” The outfield group of Gavi Aron, Max Boim, Corey Cyrulnik, Michah Kay, Sammy Strulowitz and Eitan Margulies were super stars, always backing each other up and hitting the cutoff man. In fact, the outfield did not allow a single home run the entire season and only a few doubles—almost every ball hit to the outfield was held to a single.

Not to be outdone, the infield defense was top notch, making plays consistently and always getting the lead runner. Third baseman Dovid Last, shortstop Eitan Naor, shortstop/second baseman Sammy Gilbert, second baseman Sam Kantowitz, second baseman Michah Kay and first baseman Aharon Krohn consistently made plays on grounders and pop ups. In fact, in one game after Last had thrown the lead runner out at second for the second time in the inning, the coach from another team yelled, “Come on—how much do they practice that?” (The answer: 9u practiced throwing out the lead runner a lot.)

Then there was the pitching and catching (the battery) which became a strength of the team. With the heat and the condensed schedule, the team needed more pitchers than in past years and they all performed amazingly—even with some pitching from 46 feet for the first time this year. The pitching staff of Naor, Gilbert, Kantowitz, Kay, Strulowitz and Last were rock solid all year. By limiting walks and playing to the team’s defensive strength, the pitching staff always kept the team in the game. Helping out the pitchers was the team’s ironman catcher, Naftali Simon, who got many additional strike calls with beautiful pitch framing. Backup catchers Boim, Kantowitz and Naor helped carry the load when the heat brought the need for additional catchers. One of the umpire’s commented at the end of one of the games, “Your pitchers and catchers are real pros—the pitchers have good form and your catcher really knows how to frame.”

All this was put to the test in the championship game which was a pitching and defensive battle. Teaneck scored a run in the second inning when Kay, Simon and Krohn all got on, loading the bases. Gilbert, after a long at bat, was able to force a walk, bringing in the first run. Teaneck’s starter, Naor, pitched three shutout innings backed up with strong defense. Teaneck scored an insurance run in the fifth after Naor hit a triple and Strulowitz drove him in with a hard grounder to second. That was the end of the scoring as Gilbert pitched another three shutout innings backed up again by great defense. Teaneck’s pitchers (Gilbert and Naor) ended with 15 strikeouts with Simon squeezing the last pitch as Gilbert got the swinging strike to end the game. Congratulations to the entire team—the hard work paid off!

The team wanted to give a special thank you to the TBO board and leadership, particularly Michael Graber, Aharon Goldwasser, Brian Jacobs and Moshe Gelbtuch who gave the team an opportunity to play summer ball.

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