SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- The SPFBL 7U Raiders capped off an impressive 2014 summer season with a New Providence Green League (NPGL) 8U Championship by defeating #2 seed New Providence Pioneers on July 30 at Route 22 Field. The 7U team finished league play including the playoffs at 10-2-3, defeating Long Hill 11-10 in 8 Innings in the quarterfinals and Summit 6-4 in the semifinals along the way.
Sam Beirne started the game for the Raiders and pitched into the 3rd inning allowing only 2 runs; AJ Saccento relieved Beirne and kept the Pioneers in check with 2 strikeouts and no runs. Saccento was relieved by Jack Sponheimer in the top of the 5th; “Spony” shut down the Pioneers throwing a perfect 1 2/3 innings to close out the game. Offensively, the Raiders rallied to score all 4 of their runs in the bottom of the 4th inning helped by Colin Mahr's single.
Sam Beirne made the defensive play of the season stabbing a hard hit one hopper at third base and throwing a laser to a stretching CJ Bates at first base to record the all important first out of the top of the 6th. Bobby Christensen recorded the second out at shortstop by catching a popup, and Sponheimer struck out the final batter of the game to start the celebration for the Raiders.
“This team has come so far since our first practice, and each and every player developed leaps and bounds from where they were. Being able to take home a Championship trophy is something they will never forget,” said Coach Chris Bates. “All season we stressed the importance of throwing strikes and making the routine plays in the field. We did what we needed to do that to beat a very good New Providence team.”
“As a coach there is no better feeling than helping a player succeed when they feel that can’t; to help build their confidence and give them the knowledge to be a better player and teammate,” Bates added. “All season our boys battled, never were once intimidated by playing up in an age group, and often used it as a motivation. Proud doesn’t begin to describe how I feel for this team in 2014 it was a great run. The challenge now is to continue to keep that momentum going as we springboard into the future.”
The Raiders also went 2-0 at the Ridge Summer Jamboree in July.