All-Star 10U Team's Stellar Season
Submitted by: Ty Waddell
Photos by: Carol Hsu and Lauren Waddell
The All-Star 10U team was managed by Coach Ty Waddell, with Assistant Coaches: Peter Stopherd, Mark Capobianco, and Kurt Balchan. They had an awesome season this year.
Team members: Troy Waddell, Myles Balchan, AJ Nunziato, Wes Narucki, Matthew Bonagura, Larry Reznik, Landon Kemple, Rudy Garofalo, Lorenzo Airey, Russ Snyder, Rocco Mearizo, Ryan Murray, and Luke Kane walked away as District Champions and had the opportunity to play in the State Championship Games.
The All-Star 10U season started with their first practice on June 11 and their first game was on June 22nd, so they had to work at a fast pace to get the team ready to compete. They practiced almost everyday. All of the players were there early every day waiting to get practice started. Over a 6 week period they all became a true team and always cheered for their teammates.
They had a very complex Infield/Outfield warmup for a 10U team and to see them go from dropping many balls in the first week of practice to being almost perfect the last 2 weeks was an amazing progression, which says a lot about the talent of this particular group.
This season included many highlights. They were powered by The Bulldog Bombers Big 3, lead by Troy Waddell batting .667, Myles Balchan .489 and AJ Nunziato .475 combining for 61 Hits and 62 RBI’s during 15 total games. They had some great pitching in Sections and States lead by Big Game Landon Kemple and catching by Ryan “The Bulldog” Murray.
The All-Star 10U team went 8-0 in seeding play with only the best 2 records advancing. Going into the District Championships they had to face the Wood-Ridge All-Stars, a team that just beat the last seeding and now had to win 2 out of 3 games. It's very difficult to beat a team 3 times especially 3 times in a row. However, the team came together and every player contributed. During the first championship game they had big hits from Myles Balchan, AJ Nunziato and Rocco Mearizo, timely hitting by Rudy Garofalo and Matthew Bonagura, and plays in the outfield and a home run from Troy Waddell. They won 14-3.
The team also won Game 2, 10-1 to become District champs, Big Game Landon Kemple went 5 full innings on the mound giving up only 3 hits with 3 strikeouts. They had some big plays in the field from Wes Narucki, Lorenzo Airey, Luke Kane and 3 putouts from catcher Ryan “The Bulldog Murray”. Their bats were just too much for the other team with 2nd basemen Rusty Snyder going 2/3 with an RBI and 2 runs scored. Troy Waddell went 3/3; 3 RBIs and a home run to right center field. The team played 15 games in total. Their record was 13-2.
The boys made it to Sections and went 2-0 in sections. They were headed into the Championship series from the winners bracket so the team that advanced had to beat them twice. This was their first major test as a team and it took everything from them to win. Nutley ran into a little bad luck since their game got stopped due to lightning on Wednesday and rained out on Thursday. Due to time constraints of the State Tournament schedule, Nutley had to play the All Star team immediately after beating Teaneck on Friday July 19th. This was a double header for Nutley. The All Star team played 9 full innings in record breaking heat. The game lasted 3 hours and 30 minutes and they won 16-12 to advance to States. This game included another great pitching performance from Mr. Big Game Kemple and Rudy “The RU” Garafolo had the game of his life going 2/3 with 2 RBI’s for them to take the lead. In the bottom of the 8th, Rudy threw a Nutley player out at first from right field.
At the State Championships in Toms River they lost their first game against Hillsdale. They actually outhit them 9-5, but in the end they made too many errors. The highlight of this game was when Larry “Leggs” Reznick hit a bomb double. The second game was against Swedesboro. Troy Waddell pitched a great game giving up only 4 hits with 6 strikeouts in 4 1/2 innings, but again they made some errors in and lost 3-2, which knocked them out of the state championships.
Kurt Balchan, one of the Assistant Coaches, explained, "As the tournament rolled on, with every practice and every game, it was amazing to see each player own their role on the team, grow into their positions and come together as a unit. Being good teammates, on and off the field, is what got us through the tough games. Although we weren't able to bring home a victory for Rutherford, it was a phenomenal experience to be up amongst the top four teams in the state. To watch my son and his friends compete against the best our state has to offer was something I'll never forget. I was also blown away by the amount of support from the League and our fans. Rutherford Nation consistently brought a stronger turnout than any other town we played throughout the entire tournament, even to Toms River!"