SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - The 7U (7&Under) South Plainfield Tigers completed an unforgettable inaugural season with a record of 14 wins and 4 losses, including two championships. This was the first year the South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club (SPJBC) sponsored a 7U Team. The team was started and is currently managed by Jay Culver. Culver realized the need for a 7U team in the fall of 2014 when he saw the interest and high level of play that his son Justin had at the then age of six. Culver approached SPJBC Commissioner, Wendell Born, and asked if a 7U team was something the Club would be interested in sponsoring. Born received SPJBC Board approval for the 1st 7U traveling team. Born, put Culver in touch with the right people and the team was formed in September 2014. The team was initially called the South Plainfield Tornadoes. The Tornadoes took their lumps in the fall of 2014, and again in the spring of 2015, winning a total of 5 games while losing 17. Culver though did not get discouraged. The coaching staff was seeing major improvement every game and knew they were not far away from being a competitive team.
The summer of 2015 was when it all came together. The 7U Team this spring held their first ever tryouts for traveling all-stars. Thirteen Boys attended tryouts with Culver keeping all thirteen. The team returned to their hometown roots and were renamed the “Tigers”. The 7U Tigers practiced religiously through the month of June, and played their first game in early July. The game was a 13 – 4 Tigers victory at home versus East Brunswick. The 7U Tigers began to roll and never looked back.
The 7U Tigers rolled through the Branchburg Tournament before losing 8 – 6 to Pennsbury. The Tigers had beaten Pennsbury earlier in pool play 15 – 2. After the heartbreaking loss, the Tigers moved on to the Woodbridge Tournament. The Tigers faced formidable opponents in Wayne, North Edison, Woodbridge, and East Brunswick. The Tigers again rolled over the competition and racked up a 5 -1 record, and placing them in the Championship Game once again. However, this time the young Tigers would not be denied. The Tigers played near flawless defense, and got the bats going early, leading to a 13 – 3 victory over East Brunswick. The game was shortened to five innings due to the mercy rule. The Tigers victory was celebrated but they had not yet reached their goal.
The Young Tigers had one more goal to accomplish, beat Hillsborough for a USABL Division Title. Hillsborough had beaten the Tigers twice earlier in the season. Two nights after winning the Woodbridge Tournament the Tigers traveled to Hillsborough to play for the Division Championship. The Tigers led by a run going into the fifth inning when their bats came alive. The Tigers put up 5 runs in the 5th inning and two more runs in the 6th inning, eventually winning the game 10 – 5. Culver and his coaching staff couldn’t have been happier for these young boys. They practiced and played as hard as any 7 year old’s they had seen. They battled every game, and never gave up. It was a true team effort day in and day out with a different boy playing the role of hero every game.
“These boys should be proud of their accomplishments,” said Coach Culver. “I look forward to seeing what they will achieve in the future.” According to Culver the friendship these boys formed is what brought a smile to the coaching staffs face day in and day out, in addition to having the most positive and supportive parents imaginable. It was a summer that will hopefully never be forgotten by these young ballplayers.
Manager Jay Culver
Coaches Matt Anderson, Eddie Budzinski, Sean Penny, Bill Pear
Players Jesse Ablenap, Ryan Aiello, Justin Anderson, Eddie Budzinski, Justin Culver, AJ Kaplan, Dominick Massaro, Dylan Oller, Kyle Pear, Kevin Penny, Brian Piro, Braden Tankiewicz, Anthony Tomei