SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The South Plainfield Junior Baseball Clubs' 9-year-old-and-under summer travel baseball team, completed their most successful season to date on July 30 with a third-place finish in the Mid-Atlantic regionals.
The 9U Tigers successfully defended their Northern New Jersey State title against Basking Ridge on July 19. The game took place at the South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club with hundreds of fans in attendance. The Tigers won, 9-5, after trailing, 3-0. With the qualifying win, the Tigers advanced to the Mid-Atlantic Regionals in Douglasville, Pa. The Mid-Atlantic Regional Tournament is made up of the top 10 state Championship teams from New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Delaware, and Maryland.
After an opening ceremony and skills competition that commenced on July 27, the Tigers got off to a quick start by sweeping a grueling doubleheader. The Tigers beat Lou Gehrig (West NY) 14-3 and then East Brandywine (NWPA) 12-5. On the second day of the tournament the Tigers were matched up against Daniel Boone, the host team and Mid-Atlantic Regional runner up in 2016. Forefront in the Tigers' young minds, was the memory that Daniel Boone had bested the Tigers in the regional tournament in 2016, a game that went down to the last at bat. In the bottom of the sixth inning, Daniel Boone pushed a run across the plate to capture a seven to six victory. In this year's rematch, Daniel Boone scored two runs early, but this year’s mighty Tigers refused to roll over. The Tigers put up a five spot in the fifth inning and never looked back. With a five to two victory, the Tigers stood at 3 - 0. On the third day of the tournament, the Tigers would again seek revenge. This time against Calvert (MD), the team that knocked them out of the prior year's event in the quarterfinal by a score of Fifteen to Four. However, It would not be the Tigers day though as they lost three to zero. After the loss the Tigers stood at 3 - 1, seated second in their bracket after pool play, thus besting their third-place finish in their respective bracket the prior year.
The Tigers began quarterfinal play on the morning of July 30th. The Tigers were matched against Niskayuna (ENY), who seated third in the alternate bracket. The Tigers came out victorious, defeating the Niskayuna boys seven to two. After a short two hour break, the Tigers were set to face Marlton (SNJ). Marlton was the 2016 8U Regional championship team, and the number one seeded team in the opposite bracket. The Tigers put up a valiant effort, threatening in multiple innings, but we're only able to push across one run. The Tigers eventually fell to Marlton five to one. Marlton went on to defeat Calvert for their second consecutive Mid Atlantic Regional championship by a score of seven to six.
Although upset, the players, coaches, parents and many fans, who had made the two hour trip, were thrilled with the Tigers 4 -2 performance, and overall third-place finish in the region. The Tigers only two losses came at the hands of the two teams who went on to compete in the championship game. Manager Jay Culver also noted that just as important as the Tigers third-place finish, the Tigers pitching and defense allowed a tournament low 20 total runs. Culver stated "although you always want to win, I could not be happier with the way the boys played over the past four days. This is the biggest tournament for our age group, and undoubtedly the best competition. The level of play in this tournament for nine year olds is exceptional, and we are right there with the best of the best. When this team was put together two years ago, the Regions were never even a thought, but given the team chemistry, and hard work put in daily by these 12 boys, the outcome does not surprise me. It is a testament to the players, coaches, parents, and the organization, who have all worked together to get here. Next year I hope we can take the next big step and advance to the title game.".
The 9U Tigers completed the spring and summer season with a record of 32 wins & 5 losses. The Tigers captured the Spring USABL Elite Division championship, in addition to the Hillsborough Memorial Day Tournament championship, The District 9 Championship, and the Northern New Jersey state championship. The Tigers are waiting to play Ridge in the Father's Day championship game, a game which was rained out and unable to be played due to the District and State tournaments. The Tigers also competed in and seated second in their bracket at Diamond Nation, a facility in Flemington, NJ, known for club teams and a highly advanced level of play.
Culver cited the entire season as a total team effort, and therefore didn't want to list any individual player accomplishments. The Tigers record over the past two seasons is 75 wins and 14 losses. Five of the losses have come in the regional tournament. The players are listed below in alphabetical order.
2017 9U South Plainfield Tigers
Manager - Jay Culver
Coach - Bill Bethea
Coach - Bill Bethea
Coach - Dan Kapsch