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Sunday, February 23, 2020

The Teaneck (TBO) 9U Summer Travel team finished the grueling Paramus Summer League regular season with a solid 9-3 record and earned the second seed in the playoffs. The team had hoped to achieve its pre-season goals of hosting a home playoff game and surpass its impressive run to the semifinals in 2013.

The 11-man roster made up of Eitan Adler, Akiva Boyarsky, Netanel Eckman, Ori Engel, Ezra Halpert, Eli Knapp, Andy Rosenberg, Abie Schwartz, Caleb Wolin, Eli Zaretsky, and Joey Zelig made significant progress during the season and with 14 games and numerous practices behind them hoped to be a force in the postseason. With arguably the best pitching and defense in the league, the team boasted impressive league-best statistics of an 81 run differential and only 21 runs allowed at the close of the regular season.

In the opening round of the playoffs the team was challenged by a solid Mahwah team without starting pitcher and 3-hole hitter Zaretsky who was out due to illness. The bats came alive from the start and the team stayed aggressive on the base paths. A 3-hit game from Zelig and multiple RBIs from Eckman and Adler provided more than enough offense. Schwartz and Eckman stepped it up from the mound combining for a 4-hitter in a game that was ended after 4 innings due to the mercy rule. TBO was onto the semifinals following a 13-1 victory.

In the semifinals TBO faced a solid Ramsey Gold team. Zaretsky was back on the mound and pitched five solid innings with the help of great defensive support. Key plays by Halpert, Schwartz, Wolin, and Rosenberg and solid play behind the plate by Engel kept Teaneck in the game but trailing 2-0 after 3½ innings. Zaretsky started the comeback with a home run to lead off the 4th. A solid at bat by Knapp where he worked a walk followed by a crucial single by Rosenberg to score 2 runs allowed Teaneck to regain the lead 3-2 after 4. Boyarsky led off the 5th with a hit and scored on a double by Wolin. Walks to Zaretsky and Eckman followed by a double to left by Zelig scoring 2 more. Wolin closed the game with a scoreless 6 th and Teaneck defeated Ramsey 7-2 to advance to the championship.

In the championship game Teaneck matched up against an undefeated Saddle Brook team that had defeated them 5-4 a few weeks earlier. Teaneck fell behind 1-0 early but tied the game on a triple by Zelig and a sacrifice fly by Engel. Solid pitching by Wolin and Schwartz kept the team in the game. A sixth inning rally with hits by Rosenberg, Halpert, and Wolin brought the score to 5-2. Unfortunately that is where it ended. TBO Was presented with the runner-up trophy and despite the loss the team had a wonderful season.

TBO’s head coach, Chaim Schwartz, along with assistance coaches Jeff Engel and Josh Zelig were very proud of the way the team improved and all that the team accomplished this summer. Following the game the team presented Coach Schwartz with a plaque of appreciation for his six seasons of coaching this travel team. The team also thanked the parents and families who sacrificed their Sundays and weeknights to cheer them on and carpooled the kids to and from games and practices. A special thank you to Benny Zelig, the TBO team bat boy, whose great spirit kept the players smiling. Additionally, the team and coaches also express their gratitude to the Paramus Summer Tournament and its directors for affording Teaneck kids the opportunity to play competitive travel ball with other travel teams across Bergen and Passaic counties. Without PST’s accommodation of Teaneck’s special needs, this baseball experience, likely unavailable elsewhere in the US, would not be possible. Finally, congratulations to all the players who demonstrated great baseball skills, determination, and most of all true sportsmanship throughout the season.