SOUTH PLAINFIELD -- The South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club (SPJBC) held the opening ceremony for the 2018 10U Cal Ripken Middle Atlantic Region Tournament under sunny blue skies at the SPJBC complex on Thursday morning.
It is the first time South Plainfield has ever hosted the tournament. The Tigers recently won District 9 and the Northern New Jersey state tournament title to advance to Region’s. However, because they are the hosts, they would be placed in the bracket regardless. Nonetheless, they still earned their way through.
South Plainfield is joined in Pool A by Poughkeepsie from Southeastern New York, Flood City from Northwest Pennsylvania, Bear, DE., and Hickory, MD.. Pool B consists of South Jersey’s Marlton, Northeastern New York’s Saratoga-Wilton, North Tonawanda from Western New York, Upper Perkiomen from Southeastern Pennsylvania, and North Hunterdon, the Northern New Jersey select team and runners up to the Tigers.
As the ceremony got underway with fans and families lined up along the first line on Field No. 2, SPJBC commissioner Joe Scrudato introduced each team and recognized specific individuals in attendance. Scrudato also shared a few words.
“I’d like to welcome everybody to the Middle Atlantic Regional Tournament,” Scrudato said. “I really need to thank all the players, the coaches, and the fans for making this 10U tournament happen. It’s been a dream of mine since I became the commissioner three years ago to host this tournament and I could not have done it without the parents, the coaches, Janine Kapsch, and everyone else that made this happen.”
From 1971-1973, Owen Kelly served as commissioner of the SPJBC and he was present at the ceremony as well. Kelly had the honors of throwing the all-important first pitch.
“The last item that we need to talk about is the first pitch,” Scrudato said. “This is a great honor that is given to one person that has given so much to the club over the years. He still comes to every opening day. He’s our oldest living commissioner. He’s been around for a long time. He’s just one of those great guys in town that everybody loves. He’s phenomenal.”
Kelly’s pitch was a strike right down the middle.
"It’s fantastic. It’s really a pleasure. I found out I couldn’t throw the ball too good,” Kelly said with a laugh about the ceremonial first pitch and on having the tournament in South Plainfield. “But, it worked out.
“This is just one of those days where I’m glad people thought about me after all these years.”
The first game of the tournament began at 11:00 a.m. South Plainfield’s opened at 4:00 p.m. and beat Hickory of Maryland in an extra inning thriller 5-2. Through Saturday, every team will have played four times. The quarterfinals will be at 12:00 p.m. on Sunday and the semifinals will take place later in the day at 3:00 p.m. The final round is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Monday.
Showers and thunderstorms are in the forecast for Saturday-Monday.
“My dream has been fulfilled and this is going to a great tournament,” Scrudato said. “I wish for great weather and I wish everybody a great time.”
SOUTH PLAINFIELD ROSTER
Eddie BUDZINSKI - 18
Ryan BALENT - 7
Justin CULVER - 27
NicK IRIZARRY - 2
Daniel KAPSCH - 11
Dominic MASSARO - 6
Alex PIGNA - 10
Will BETHEA - 19
Braden TANKIEWICZ - 33
Aidan KAPLAN - 4
Dylan OLLER - 44
Anthony TOMEI - 5
Manager - Jay CULVER - 8
Coach- Dan KAPSCH - 25
Coach- Ed BUDZINSKI - 18
Coach- Bill BETHEA - 49
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