SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ – This summer, a group of elementary school baseball players became the first South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club (SPJBC) team to win a Cal Ripken State Title Championship and, earlier this week, the 8 and Under (8U) team’s history-making season was recognized. Family and friends gathered at Borough Hall on Aug. 15 as the as players and coaches were honored by the Borough Council and presented an official proclamation.
“The skill, good sportsmanship and leadership were the qualities that helped the team earn the State Championship Title and also make the South Plainfield Junior Baseball 8U Boys Team outstanding members of the community of South Plainfield,” states the official borough proclamation Council President Robert Bengivenga, Jr. presented to the 12 players and five coaches at the meeting.
The SPJBC Boys Baseball 8U Team, which was comprised of 12 second and third graders from throughout South Plainfield, began training for the 2016 season back in January and, over the months that followed, competed in South Plainfield Junior Baseball Club’s spring Little League season and then entered the USABL’s 10-week spring travel season.
On Memorial Day, the summer travel season began and over the next two and half months, the SPJBC 8U team went on to be undefeated – finishing 25-0 for the summer season, which included three tournaments along with Districts and States.
At the end of June, the baseball team went on to defeat Monroe 10-0 to capture the Cal Ripken 8U District Title and then, on July 21, the team defeated Hazlet 6-1 to capture the Cal Ripken 8 and Under State Championship. Although SPJBC has ‘homered in’ a number of Cal Ripken State finalists, the 8 and Under team is the first to ‘walk off’ with the crown.
The victory advanced the team to the Cal-Ripken 8U Regional Tournament in Rome, NY July 28-Aug. 1 where they made it to the quarterfinals, finishing fifth overall among competing teams from New York, New Jersey, Maryland, Delaware and Pennsylvania.
"I knew we would have a good and competitive season, but I never imagined it would lead to an undefeated season, a State title, and a chance to compete at regionals,” said the team’s manager, Jay Culver. “We had a tremendous season and a wonderful summer. To be the first team from SPJBC to ever move on to the regions is just fantastic and then to cap it all off by being honored and recognized by the Borough Council – them reaching out to me and wanting to honors the boys – was just great.”
Led by Culver with assistance from Coaches Dan Kapsch, Sea Penny, Eddie Budzinski and Bill Bethea, SPJBC’s 8U team included Ryan Balent, William Bethea, Eddie Budzinski, Justin Culver, Nicholas Irizarry, AJ Kaplan, Daniel Kapsch, Dominick Massaro, Dylan Oller, Kevin Penny, Alex Pigna, and Anthony Tomei.
“This team was comprised of 12 boys with the most heart and the best work ethic at 8 years old that any coach or parent could ask for,” Culver said, adding, “It is great to win but what was even more special and important was getting to see the smiles on the boys’ faces and watch as they became friends as well as teammates.”
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