2016 NBBA All Rookie Teams

Story by Rob Weissman

One critcal part of beep baseball is the development of rookies.  We want to encourage as many new players as we can to play this game. Opportunity must be made available for them to play.  The league is very proud of its growth over the years, as it should be.  Moving the World Series around the country has helped spring up multiple teams in Georgia (Atlanta Eclipse, Athens Timberwolves, Columbus Midnight Stars).  Iowa brought us the Reapers.  Rochester, NY gave us the Pioneers.  These teams have added so much depth and helped fill out the league.  Most of these teams are filled with players who had never played the game before.  The world series brought awareness to their cities and opportunity for their visually impaired population.

The opportunity we still have as a league is growing the existing programs.  Rosters seem to change a lot.  Heck, even new teams will pop up. The things is these new teams are rarely filled with new players.  Often times, they are the same players just playing in a different jersey.  A perfect example of this is the Indy Edge which the league considers a new team.  No disrespect to the Edge, but they listed 16 players on their roster.  Two of those players came from the New Jersey Lightning.  Only one player on the roster had never appeared in an NBBA World Series, Chris Dunleavy. Is this is really a new team and is the league truly growing?

It would be great if we can track how many new players are joining each year (Steve Guerra is starting to track this…applauds to him for sure).  That metric would be telling.  How many of them are on new teams (The entire Seattle roster were rookies this year). Vs how many are on existing teams.  to grow our great sport, we need to do more in our local communities to get players involved.  This should be the goal over trying to win a ring.  A goal to win a ring by filling your roster with players that grew up in your system.

The 2016 Championship game between the Renegades and the Indy Thunder may have not been the best game ever.  Heck, Boston got 12 runned. But it was a symbol.  A symbol that a team can win without free agents.  A team can win by growing their roster.  Yes, Boston and Indy got there taking different routes.  The Thunder’s players have played on many teams including Chicago, Kansas and even other Indy teams.  It is believed that everyone on that roster comes from Indy.  Look at the Renegades.  Every player on that roster has played 100% of their games in a Renegade uniform and has grown up in the Boston system.  Each team on that field despite the slight differences mentioned above got there for one main reason.  Rookies!

As we have done in past years, we have spent this space looking at who the top rookies are.  This is not official.  There is no real award given out and our definition of a rookie is soley based on one person’s knowledge of the league.  Since we only have world series stats to look at, a rookie is merely defined as someone who Rob Weissman does not think has ever played in a World Series in previous years.  This may have a level of error in it.

As the league does, we will use the same metrics to name the all star teams.  Offense will use batting average and defense will use stops per game (a metric that is horrific in so many ways …but worse for rookies).   why is the defensive metric bad for rookies?  Its very hard to teach a rookie defense and even harder to put them up front in the defense where all the stops are made.  These defensive stats will only tell part of the story.  Each player on this list should be applauded.  Equally important, the teams who recruited them and coached them should take pride as well.
Let’s start with the defensive all stars this year.  It was hard to find players who put up big numbers here.  Again, many rookies take time before earning the trust of their team to go up front on the point to lead the defense.

All Rookie Defense Team

Defensivley all we can use to rank the players is defensive stops…and compare their stops to how many their team made.  There is a theme here in that all of these players played on teams in the 2nd half of the league.  Atlanta finished 10th and had player make the list.  This is no knock on any player, it makes a point that its very hard for a top tier team to break a rookie into the defense.  Defense takes time to learn.

Name Team Team finish Games played Stops Avg
Jesus Baeza BCS 16th 9 38 4.2
Ricky Kim Seattle 18th 7 19 2.7
Carnell Walker Atlanta 10th 8 18 2.3
Bryan Duarte Arizona 15th 9 8 .89
Brian Harrington Rochester 19th 7 5 .71
John Margist Southwest 11th 10 6 .60

Kudos to all of these players.  A special kudos to the first three players on this list because its so hard to make a lot of stops on defense as a rookie.  Defense is the hardest thing to learn

  • Baeza was the only player we played against on this list.  Jesus was responsible for 51% of the BCS Outlaws defensive stops.  Baeza made 4 stops against the Renegades which became common ground for him.  He made 4 or more stops in 6 of the 9 games he played in.  His best game was a 9 stop effort against the Bayou City Heat.  Baeza led BCS in stops in every game they played during the week.  He and Crystal Stark (from last years defensive all star rookie team) counted for 73% of the stops for BCS
  • Ricky Kim is on a team full of Rookies as this was Seattle’s first World Series ever.  Kim has played for Seattle for three years prior to this, but they had never played in an official NBBA event before against experienced teams.  Kim stopped 59% of the balls for the Seattle defense.  He made 4 stops in four of the seven games Seattle played in.  He led the team in stops in 5 of the 6 games Seattle played (they played one game in which the team never made a put out against Atlanta)
  • Carnell Walker was an exciting young prospect for the up and coming Atlanta Eclipse. Walker was 2nd on the Eclipse with 18 stops behind the vacuum of Isaiah Wilcox (who led the league with 53 stops).  Walker’s best game was against the BCS outlaws when he made 6 stops.  He also had a 3 stop game against Tyler.  Walker was one of the best two way rookies in the league as he also scored 11 times and hit .344 just missing that list on offense.
  • Bryan Duarte was aa Arizona Phenom and finished 2nd on the Phenoms with 8 stops.  His best effort was a three stop game against the Southwest Slammers in the first game of the World Series.  He had 4 games without a stop as well which goes to show you how hard it is to get rookies playing time on defense
  • Brian Harrington is 5th on this list with just 5 stops.  He was third on the Rochester Pioneer team in stops.  His best game was a 2 stop performance against the BCS Outlaws
  • John Margist makes the list with a mere 6 stops…though he led all rookies in games played with 10.  Margist did not show much defense all week until the 10th game.  In that last game he had three stops (50% of his total for the week) against the Lonestar Roadrunners.

All Rookie Offense Team

Offensively, we can look at batting average and strike outs to get a feel of how well the rooks are doing

Name Team Team Finish Runs At bats Strike outs Average
Gerald Dycus Indy 1st 23 34 3 .676
Zach Buhler Indy 1st 19 31 4 .613
John Margist Southwest 11th 22 45 13 .489
Ricky Ruzica San Antonio 5th 17 36 6 .472
Eddie Culp Iowa 17th 10 24 9 .417
Todd Paulson Minnesota 9th 9 24 9 .375
Shawn Devenish BOSTON 2nd 12 34 8 .353
  • Gerald Dycus was not only the class of the Rookies, he was one of the top hitters in the league.  Dycus finished with the third best batting average in the league during the week.  Only five players in the league scored more times than Dycus on the series.  This rookie has speed and power to all fields.  He is dangerous .  He scored a hat trick in 7 of the 8 games he played.  He will be a force in this league for years to come.  As a rookie he only struck out 9% of the time.  We played against Dycus twice and he went 6-11 against the Renegades and did not strike out.
  • Zach Buhler is the second player on this list and the second rookie from the Indy Thunder.  Its not hard to see how they won the title with these two rooks.  Buhler hit a mere .613 which was good enough for 6th in the league and only 2nd behind his teammate amongst all rookies.  Buhler is incredibly fast and has power to boot.  He is another tough out.  Buhler also had a hat trick in 5 of the 7 games he played in.  Buhler played against the Renegades and was 6-10 with just one whiff.
  • John Margist is this years Hideki Matsui.  We know he is no rookie to Beepball as he plays for the Philly Fire.  But we have to be fair and put him on this list because we believe this was his first World Series.  John had a big tournament t0 put him on the map in Chicago this year.  But The Renegades knew he could hit before that.  Only 3 players in the league had more At-bats than John.  He either led or tied the Slammers in most runs scored in a game for them in 7 of the 10 games they played. He scored three runs in a game 5 times during the week.  His strike out rate is high (29%) but keep in mind he lives in Philly and did not work with this team much during the year.  Margist was 3-4 against the Renegades with just 1 strike out.  He was responsible for 3 of the 4 runs the Slammers scored on the Renegades.
  • Ricky Ruzika should be no surprise to this list based on the fact he is young and played baseball. Ruzika has a sweet swing and some power.  He had his best game against the Austin Blackhawks when he scored four runs in a game (an unofficially may have been one of two rookies to accomplish that feat this season).  He also had a trifecta against Lonestar. Ricky played his first World Series game against the Renegades and was 2-5 with 2 strike outs.  It was the only game he struck out twice in all week.
  • Eddie Culp was a surprise to this list for sure.  Iowa was putting up some runs for the first time ever this season.  Culp was a big part of that.  Eddie represented 25% of the Reaper offense with his 10 runs as he was second on the Reapers in runs scored.  He scored a pair against Bayou City, Southwest, NJ Titans and the Rochester Pioneers.  Though we did not see him play, his stats show he was a huge help to the Reaper offense.
  • Todd Paulson scored his first career run against the Renegades and it was a nice moment for him that we enjoyed.   Paulson did not see a lot of playing time early but as his big bat got hot, he earned more playing time.  He was just 1-4 on the first day of the Series in three games.  He then had a 4 run game against Seattle(we believe he and Ruzika were the only rookie to do this in the series).  Paulson may not be the fleetest of foot but he has some good pop in his bat.
  • Yes.  Thats 6 players…..BUT, this is a Renegade web site and we are going to play homage to the 7th best batting average in the league because its our award and this rookie helped us get into the Title game.  That made three rookies in the title game!
    • Shawn Devenish.  Shawn got off to a shaky start with the Renegades this year as he sprained his wrist in the 2nd game of his career.  All year, he was bothered by a bum wrist.  When he squared up the ball…he could hit it as far if not further than any rookie on this list.  Shawn’s 12 runs were 5th most amongst all rookies in the league and he did this playing against the hardest schedule in the league (thats an article for another time).  Devenish had multi run games against San Antonio, Minnesota, Chicago and the Indy Thunder.  Those are some of the top teams in the league.  He also scored the game tying run against the Colorado Storm in the 6th inning that forced the game to go into extra innings.  Putting a rookie in that spot after he was 0-4 with a missed base was an amazing way for his him to show his mental toughness.  He deserved to be on this list…especially since we played against 5 of the 6 guys on the list and he deserves to be mentioned amongst the best rookie hitters in the league!

Shaen Devenish hitting a base is Boston's rep on the NBBA Rookie teamAfter having a Renegade Rookie lead the league in hitting the past two years (Rob Dias and Christian Thaxton), We added Shawn Devenish to the mix this year.  Though he did not lead the league, he did make a major contribution and scored the 5th most runs of any rookie at the series.  Shawn found the Renegades when he was just looking for some sports to play for the blind.  He found our web site on Google.  Shawn came out and played in a charity game with the team in September of 2015 and was super excited.  He was sold even though he was not 100% sure where he would live.  He was going to have a long commute wherever he was.  We were unsure if that commute would be a barrier to him playing.  Shawn filled out the CAF grant and we knew he was serious.  He then made the trek to almost every practice despite being nearly a 2 hour round trip ride.

Coach Weissman knew pretty quickly that we had a special player because Shawn was very coachable from the start.  His knowledge of hitting even passed some of the veterans when the players were quizzed about their mechanics as he aced his “test”.  Devenish worked hard, had fun and was a great teammate from the start even though he bolted right after each practice.  His first game, he was the lead off hitter and the rover in the defense against the New Jersey Lightning and he scored in his 2nd at-bat of the game to the delight of his teammates.  In his second game he scored again against the Long Island Bombers but also hurt his wrist going over third base.  He tried to play through it and every swing he had left him with a grimace on his face.  The medical team pulled him out and he was done playing at that time.  We determined Shawn needed to rest his wrist and we shut him down for a short time.  Every practice, we taped him up and we held our breathe to see how he would do in Philly.

He told the team he felt fine, but we taped him anyway and he again played in the first two games of the Philly tournament.  We moved him up in the line up and in his 3rd game, the first game of the Philly tourney.  The result, he scored three runs (which were critical since the game went 8 innings).  He followed that up scoring one more run against Long Island before it was decided his wrist had enough and we shut him down again.  He was sore after playing.  We had just over two weeks to get him ready for the World Series.

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Coach. Dr. Mike Marciello was one of the medical staff to keep Shawn on the field. He is shown here wrapping Shawn up before a game. Yuki, Peg and Lisa all helped him stay on the field with tape and exercises through the summer

Thankfully, we have an amazing medical team and they were able to help him strengthen the wrist and wrapped him every practice.  Shawn had no limits on him at the World Series though we kept a watchful eye on him.  We know he was never at 100% the whole season.  We found out that he loves to play and is willing to play through pain.  Shawn was a critical part of our success this season and was surely one of the most impressive offensive rookies in the game in 2016.

Introducing rookies to the game is one of the most exciting parts of being a coach.  Each year some of the most memorable moments for the Renegade coaching staff involves watching a new player succeed at the game.  We celebrate their first runs and first defensive outs.  Developing new talent is hard.  Its not only hard to teach them, its even harder to recruit players because the blind community is a small population.

Rookies are imperative to the long term success of the team.  When we looked at the roster the Renegades brought to the World Series.  39% of the roster joined the Renegades in the past three seasons.  The Renegades are one of the few teams that have this dynamic.  Not only has it helped improve our culture and our game, its has helped so many people learn and enjoy the game which leads to more opportunity for the blind community to play ball!

To see the previous NBBA All Rookie team rosters click the links below

 

 

Camp Vision visited the Renegades

Just before the 2016 World Series Camp Vision visited the Renegades for a clinic to learn about the sport.  While the team practiced about 20 kids with visual impairments from western Mass came to see what beepball and the Renegades were all about.  Coach Kara Peters joined former players, JJ Ward, Joe Buizon, Aqil Sajjad and Ben Rubenstein in a demonstration of the game.  We taught them a little about running bases, defense and hitting.  The kids also got a chance to see the team practice at full speed.  Its always exciting for our players to give back to the blind community.  Maybe some day, one of these kids becomes a Renegade or a player in our league.  Either way, they have had a chance to experience playing the sport and we hope this helps see what is possible

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

Kara and Ben teach a camper how to set up at the plate

A camper shows no fear going after the base

A camper shows no fear going after the base

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JJ gives words of wisdom to a young camper before he hits

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Aqil demonstrates how we play defense to the campers

A camper fields a ball while Ben and JJ look on and provide feedback/encouragement

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A group shot of the Renegades (JJ Ward, Aqil Sajjad, Kara Peters, Ben Rubenstein and Joe Buizon) with Camp Vision campers and volunteers

Watch the 2016 NBBA Championship Game

The Boston Renegades had a dream run in 2016 making the NBBA 2016 Championship game.  The team challenged for the national championship as it roared through the World Series brackets to make the Championship game.  Heading into this game the Renegades were 13-1 on the season.  Their only loss was to the hands of the Indy Thunder who beat them the previous day by the score of 14-8.  This would be the first ever appearance in a title game for both the Indy Thunder and the Boston Renegades.

The Thunder came into this game 7-0 for the week while Boston was 7-1.  The story for the Renegades heading into this game was the loss of Joe McCormick.  Joe, an emotional leader and all around star player was lost for the season in the first match up against the Thunder.  He was lost in a collision on defense which left him in the hospital with multiple fractures in his face.  Could the Renegades pick him up?

The NBBA 2016 Championship game streamed live on the internet and a few weeks after the series was over the video was compiled and a high quality broadcast was put on Vimeo.  Many thanks to Graham Mathenia for his hard work with all of the video shooting and compiling.  Also many thanks to Kevin Sibson and Dave Benney for providing a fun and educational broadcast of the game as these two played Play by play and color commentators.

 

If you want to read along with the coaches thoughts on NBBA 2016 Championship game, here is a read of how Coach Weissman viewed the game that may be a good spoiler for this video.  Either way, the Renegades were excited to make this game.  Boston made this game doing it differently than any other team in the league.  A unique team that works hard to stay together as a unit to support each other on and off the field.

Coach Weissman started off the day making sure the players really took some time to enjoy themselves.  Relish in the fact the team was playing in the title game and was one of two teams left standing during the 2016 World Series.  It was something to be proud of.  Much like when the Red Sox won in 2004.  That team won it for every other player who had ever played for the Club that went 86 years without a championship.  We needed to recognize what we had accomplished since the team started playing competitively in 2002.  Weissman wanted the players to take some time and enjoy the atmosphere.  However, when the opening ceremonies were over, it was just another game.

The Indy Thunder brought with them an army.  It’s hard to say exactly how many people they brought but they listed 45 players and volunteers in the program.  Boston is one of the biggest programs in the world, but we could not afford to bring our entire staff (nor did they have the time off to spend a week in Iowa).  As the Indy Thunder was announced the fans began to cheer…but somewhere around their 20th person, they stopped paying attention….and by the time the Renegades were announced, people just wanted to watch the game.  There was only a smattering of applause for the Renegades as they took the line and the league struggled to pronounce many of the names in the process.  The coin toss was held and this time the Renegades would lose and would be the visiting team.  On the bench for the Renegades was Joe McCormick who missed the fireworks after being taken to the hospital in an ambulance the day before.  Our medical staff cleared Than Hunyh to play if and only if he would allow them to tape his leg.  And tape him they did.  Mike Marciello made a brace out of tape that allowed Thanh to move around without a limp and he would be part of this game despite the pain he was in.  On the other side of the ball, Miguel Tello was taking reps for the Thunder in pre game workouts and he would also be in the starting line-up as he was recovering from an injury that pulled him from the previous match up. Kyle Lewis was not starting for the Thunder but rumor was he was available if he was needed.

Though the Thunder was the faster team and a healthier team and had much greater depth than the Renegades.  They were also less experienced in big games and had never played in front of large crowds (other than their own army).  The key would be to get off to a good start and make sure the defense was playing on all cylinders.  Larry Haile was going to have to play a lot of defense in this game and we were going to try and Keep Thanh Huynh on the field as much as we could but rotating a Joe in (either Quintanilla or Yee) to see who could get hot at the plate.  For Indy, the key player missing in their line up was Kyle Lewis.  He made a huge stop on the Renegades in deep center field and also would end up on the all-offensive all-star team.  In his place was Tobey Gregory.  Could Tobey step up?

Christian Thaxton led off the game with newfound confidence as he scored just one time in the previous game.  In Thaxton style, he worked the count to 4 strikes with three foul balls and then hit a pop fly to the right side to start the game off. Miguel Tello had no chance and Boston was on the board.  Rob Dias hammered the 2nd pitch down the left field line to the “oohs” and “aaahs” of the crowd but it was foul.  He then fisted a weak pop up into the center field that Tello scampered over to put him down.  Larry Haile then hit a fly ball about 115 feet into left field that Eric Rodriguez got down to early on for the Gades second run of the inning.  Devenish would strike out (after hitting the pitcher) and Quintanilla would hit a pop fly that Tello would grab to end the frame.  Boston felt good about its start…but had hoped for just one more run to turn the line up over.

In the bottom of the first inning, it was time to see if the Renegade defense was going to be able to pull it together.  With leadoff hitter, Eric Rodriguez striking out, the Renegades felt good.  Gerald Dycus hit a hard grounder up the middle.  Zuccarello ran by the ball.  Larry Haile dove at it and as the ball rolled by Haile’s arms Gerald, Dycus hit the base.  The ball was dead and it would have to be done over.  He then hit the ball much better into right center where Thaxton dove at it…but it deflected off him for the first run of the Thunders game.  This brought Tobey Gregory to the plate.  He did not play in their first game yesterday.  Boston had scouting on Gregory and moved Thaxton from deep right center to the first base side.  Like the scouting read, Gregory hit a room service ball 100 feet right at Thaxton.  Christian went down and the ball landed 2 inches short of hitting him right in the gut.  Thaxton could not hear it or bring it into his body in time and Gregory scored on a Christmas present.  Zach Buhler then hit a ball up the right middle of the field past Guy Zuccarello into the hands of a diving Thaxton who made this play diving to his right for the 2nd out of the inning.  The Thunder had tied the score.  Tyler Rodriguez worked a full count then hit a fly ball to the left side which Justen Proctor charged.  As he ran in on the ball, he heard it go over his head.  As he put the breaks on he slipped and fell backwards.  Rodriguez had given the Thunder the lead with Proctor on his ass.  Rodenbeck drilled the first pitch he saw on a line to the third base side where Thanh Hunyh laid out and made a nice play to end the inning.

Heading into the second, both teams were settling into the match.  Guy Zuccarello, who is one of the hardest players in team history to strike out, led off with a 4-pitch whiff to start the inning.  Thaxton stepped to the plate and on the first pitch, hit a high fly up the middle of the field that was about 80 feet out, but when the ball landed, it had some spin and Eric Rodriguez was unable to make a play to catch the speed of Thaxton.  Rob Dias then blasted a shot into left field that left the fans “oooo’ing” for a run.  Larry Haile had a chance to keep the foot on the pedal but his swing path changed slightly and he and his battery could not connect as he whiffed on 4 straight pitches for the 2nd out of the inning.  This brought, the rookie, Devenish to the plate.  On the first pitch, he blasted a shot into left field that Adam Rodenbeck chased after.  The ball hugged the third baseline but well after the base it rolled into foul territory making it near impossible for Rodenbeck to get.  Joe Yee would ground out on a ball up the middle to Rodriguez to end a big inning for Boston and the Gades would lead 5-3.

The bottom of the second would be a tough inning for the Renegades as Christmas would come early for the Thunder.  Eric Rodriguez would not be denied this time as he lofted a fly ball into right center toward Thaxton.  The ball bounced in front of him but Thaxton was unable to keep it in front of him and Erod scored.  Gerald Dycus then hit a bomb into right center, again toward Thaxton, who made a diving stab but the ball bounced by him to tie the game.  This brought Gregory to the plate. This time he hit a grounder to Justen Proctor.  Justen went down to his knees (Weissman sat on the bench with a pained expression watching this) but misread the ball as it rolled by him.  Joe Yee was slow to the ground (and in his mind, he had better of heard Weissman yelling “where is the Jabba”) and it rolled under him and Gregory had two Christmas presents on the day.  This should have been the first out of the inning.  Zach Buhler then hit a ground ball up the middle.  Proctor never laid out for the ball.  Zuccarello slid to his right and dove on the ball.  When Guy could get his hands on the ball, Buhler was at the base.  Another gift from Boston.  At this time, Bryan Grillo had enough and called a time out for the defense.  This may have been Grillo’s 2nd time-out he had ever called.  He wanted to make sure everyone was all right.  The score was 7-5 Indy with no outs…but Boston had gift-wrapped the last two balls and this is something you can’t do with a team like the Thunder at the plate.  Tyler Rodriguez was next and he hit a high fly down the third baseline.  Proctor hustled over and touched the ball when it was in foul territory killing the play.  He made a great effort and actually picked it up before the speedy Tyler reached the base, but nonetheless, it was foul.  Rodriguez would then strike out.  Adam Rodenbeck stepped into the box.  The Renegades slid Thaxton over to protect the line and right on queue, Rodenbeck hit it down the line and it looked like an out.  However, Thaxton was unaware of how far he was from the line.  He laid out too early and the ball squirted by him for a run to turn the lineup over to the top again.  Rodriguez stepped to the plate and fouled it off down each line.  He then hit a nice line drive to the third baseman, Joe Yee.  Yee was late to the ground and it slid by him out to Larry Haile.  Haile looked awkward trying to go to the ground  Haile almost looked like a chicken who had been shot and was running away and Rodriguez had his 2nd run of the inning.  The game was getting away from the Renegades.  To this point, Indy had struck out twice, scored 9 times and Boston had only made 2 defensive stops.  Just when it looked like it could go on forever, Dycus hit a weak grounder to the right side.  Dias scrambled in and picked it up as Dycus missed the base, then Dycus dropped to give push ups.  He was likely out despite the missed base.  Tobey Gregory, then hit a grounder to the left side.  Proctor laid out but hit the ground to early and the ball rolled by his feet.  This time Joe Yee picked it up for the out.  After two innings Boston was now down 9-5.  Sadly, the two gifts to Gregory and Buhler led to 4 runs for Indy, which was the difference in this game.

Boston never quits.  leading off the third was Zuccarello.  He lofted a fly ball up the left side that was about 95 feet and made it past the short man.  Tyler Rodriguez slid over to pick up the ball but it kicked off his shins just as Guy was taking a bad line to third.  That bad line cost a run (he was already wearing the pink blindfold for a missed base on the previous day).  Thaxton, then hit a weak grounder down the third baseline that rolled about 90 feet, it was a foot race between him and Rodriguez.  Thaxton won.  It was now 9-6.  Rob Dias then lifted a lazy fly ball up the middle.  Miguel Tello raced to the middle of the field, taking an angle backwards and on two hops picked up the ball, right before Dias reached the base for a great defensive play.  Larry Haile then laced a hard grounder down the right side.  At about 110 feet, Tobey Gregory laid out and the ball hit him right in the box for another splendid defensive play and the Boston comeback was squandered.  Indy’s defense was looking much better on this day.  After three, Boston needed a quick defensive inning.

The Christmas gifts of the first and second innings that led to 5 runs for Indy were the difference.  The Indy defense was playing much better than the Renegades.  This was the main difference.  Woodard was getting extra time and was finding a groove.  The third inning had a different feel all together.  Zach Buhler led off with a fly ball up the middle. Zuccarello went back on the ball, circled it and got in front of it.  Just as he got to the ball, Buhler scored on a bang-bang play.  It would have nabbed many hitters but Buhler is fast and tough to get when the ball is in the air out at 115 feet.  Tyler Rodriguez hit a fly ball to left.  Thanh Hunyh over ran the ball, but Larry Haile was backing him up.  Haile hit the ground and as he was getting his mitts on the ball, the speedy Rodriguez slapped the base for another Thunder run on a bang-bang play.  This brought up Rodenbeck who hit another hard grounder to Thaxton.  Christian went down too early and the ball went by him.  Thunder 12 and Boston 6 with no outs.  Eric Rodriguez then lofted a fly ball to Proctor.  A foot race ensued and just before Proctor got the ball off the ground, Eric was in.  The third Indy run on a split second play due to the speed of the Thunder.  The speedy Dycus then hit a fly ball to right center.  Thaxton had one chance on it, but when he dove, he laid out on his stomach and the ball rolled over his legs.  A nice play to get there but a lack of fundamentals here made it impossible to get Dycus.  Tobey Gregory then hit a grounder up the middle.  Zuccarello over ran it but Haile was there to back him up.  Again, as Haile gets his hands on the ball, Gregory scores on another bang-bang play.  Boston was showing no quit, but the Thunder were blazing the lines this inning as they were like sharks smelling blood. Buhler came to the plate for the 2nd time in the inning after the Thunder had scored 6 straight runs.  He hit a hard grounder to the left side.  Proctor was late to the ground, But Thanh Hunyh was there to make the bleeding stop for Boston.  When the play was made, it was found Thanh made the out on a broken ball that had no beep.  The second time Boston made a play on a dead ball this week.  Tyler Rodriguez then hit a high fly ball to the center of the field.  Dias and Proctor converged and Dias was able to pick it up on two bounces for the second straight stop. Adam Rodenbeck was next and on the first pitch hit a line drive to left center toward Larry Haile, but Haile over ran it for the 7th run of the Indy inning.  Rodriguez then hit his 2nd pitch on the ground to the left side which Thanh Hunyh dove to his right for and as he dove to the ground his momentum took him onto his back and the ball hit him near his hip for the out.  Boston escaped the inning and after three it was 16-6.  Boston did not give up but this inning was the inning of the bang-bang play and the speed of the Thunder was making it very hard for Boston.

Boston was down 10 and staring at a possible 12 run rule.  They needed a few runs from the bottom half of the order which was just 1-6 on the day.  Shawn Devenish would lead off. He had that only run.  For Indy, they started the inning by bringing Ed Brown in on defense to replace Tyler Rodriguez.  Devenish hit the first pitch he saw off the bottom of his bat up the left center side of the field, which was where Tyler had been playing. This time rookie Zach Buhler was there.  It did not matter, Tyler’s brother Eric made a nice play angling back on the ball to stop it.  Joe Quintanilla came back in to pinch hit for Thanh.  Quintanilla hit a line drive up the middle of the field, but the ball did not travel far and Eric had time to run back and easily get in front of it as he made the play around 80 feet.  This brought Zuccarello up for the last chance for the bottom half of the order to try and score a run.  First pitch swinging, he and Cochran hit a weak grounder to the right.  Miguel Tello was there in a split second to pick up the ball and Boston threw up a donut for the first time and Boston was now done 16-6 after three innings.  All Indy needed to do was score two runs in the bottom of the inning, they could force the 12 run rule. This is the beep baseball equivalent to a mercy rule.

Indy would send up their 2-3-4 hitters.  Gerald Dycus led off the inning crushing a 130-foot fly ball down the first baseline but it was just foul.  In the end it was a long strike.  His next pitch was a ball off the bottom of his bat and Dias lined it up easily for the first out and three of the last four hitters had been stopped by the Boston defense.  Tobey Gregory was next and was 3-4 on the day with two gift-wrapped runs.  He fouled a few balls off to the right side.  He then lifted a high fly ball to the center of the field at about 55 feet.  Dias backed up on it and Proctor waited for Dias.  Neither could get it in time and Gregory scored another run on a ball that could have been an out.  Zach Buhler then lifted a high fly ball to about 115 feet of the middle of the field.  Zuccarello made a dive at it…but the ball went over him and Buhler scored easily to force the 12 run rule.  Since Indy was the home team, they would finish the inning.  Ed Brown in his first at bat lifted a short pop fly to the center of the field and on a hop, Justen Proctor finally made his first stop of the game for the 2nd out.  Rodenbeck would then hit the second pitch of his at-bat on the ground up the middle.  Guy Zuccarello was on it and it rolled right into his chest.

For Boston, they would need to score 12 runs to force Indy to have to come to the plate.  Boston had just 6 outs remaining in its season.  Leading off for the Renegades was Christian Thaxton. In a nice move by Indy, they inserted Clint Woodard into the game.  Clint had played in 5 title games but had never won.  Thaxton crushed the first pitch to left field that looked like it could be close to a home run but when the play was over, the ball was dead.  Thaxton knocked the beep out of the ball.  By rule, Thaxton would have to do it again.  He then hit a hard grounder to Eric Rodriguez, which bounced off him, but he was able to pick it up for the out. In essence Thaxton was punished for hitting the first ball too well.  Rob Dias was 1-2 on the day hit the 2nd pitch down the left side.  Rodriguez angled back toward the line and got in front of it for the 2nd out of the 5th.  Larry Haile then hit a 43 footer and Eric Rodriguez easily beat Larry and made the out before Larry could get half way down the line.  Three more outs would remain for the Renegades.

In the 6th, the bottom half of the renegade line-up would remain.  Devenish hit a hard grounder up the middle.  Eric Rodriguez angled to his left and made a diving stop of the ball that hit him in the armpit.  Rodriguez had made 4 stops in a row.  Off the bench for Boston, would come Tim Syphers.  Syphers lifted a fly ball foul down the third base line on the 2nd pitch.  He then hit an 80-foot grounder up the middle where Rodriguez and Tello converged as Tello picked it up easily.  To this point Eric Rodriguez would have 7 stops and Tello 5.  Hot Tub Thayer would be the last Renegade up and he would go down swinging to end the game and the dream for Boston.  The Thunder were the better team on this day.  Though the Boston defense gave away too many runs, which led to longer innings, the power and speed of the Thunder was too tough.  Boston was unable to get enough of it hits by the two front men of Indy.  The Thunder celebrated their first ever championship.  As they danced on the field, Weissman pulled his team off the bench and asked them to listen to Indy celebrate and implored them to keep their heads up and use the moment to fuel their off season work outs.  Boston did not have enough on this day but had its best ever season in team history finishing second in the league with a 13-2 record and their only two losses falling to the champion.  It was an amazing season. We walked off the field with our heads held high and our sights set on returning to this game in the future