For the first time since 2014, the Renegades came to The Bolingbrook tournament. This is the biggest non World Series tournament of the 2017 season and had some of the top teams in the league competing. Boston would bring a green team to this set of games, as Jamie Dickerson would own the mound for Boston, having only pitched in some Beast of the East action. On the defensive side of the ball, Boston brought two callers with limited and no experience in Ben Coiner (6 games experience) and Joe Bourque (0 games experience). Boston would also be without three starters from their 2016 season in Guy Zuccarello, Joe McCormick and Rob Dias. The mantra for the weekend would be getting this squad some experience and learning together. In addition to this, we would be up against some tough weather conditions with winds over 20 mph all day and gusts over 30mph at times. It got so bad that our canopies would get destroyed leaving us to bake in the high 80-degree temps. Let’s get to the Bolingbrook game results!
Game #4 Comets rally in the 5th to win 13-10
Thaxton scored three runs while Larry and Shawn each scored a pair in this match against the Comets
The Chicago comets would be the first opponent of the weekend. Boston owned a one game-winning streak over the comets as Boston bettered the Comets in the 2016 World Series for the first time in this rivalries history. Christian Thaxton would make his 2017 debut and go down swinging without contact on 4 straight pitches. Boston would go down 1-2-3 with 2 strikeouts in the first inning. Nick Lopez would also struggle at the start as the Comet’s pitcher. Through 2 innings Chicago held a 2-0 lead and each pitcher had 3 strikeouts. Thaxton would lead off the third with a bomb over the head of the Comet Left fielder and then Shawn Devenish would score on a grounder up the gut to put Boston on the board. In the Bottom of the 3rd the Comets would tack on two runs but their strikeouts were adding up as they now tallied five and Jamie Dickerson had more contacts than Nick Lopez. The 4th inning was a good one for Boston. Justen Proctor hit a shot up the middle and Coach Rob could be heard saying it was his best hit…EVAH! That sparked a rally. Thaxton then launched another ball to the moon into left field. With one out, the L Train then hit a grounder to the right side for another Renegade score. Joe Yee would cap the inning with one of his best hits as he blasted a shot into left field. The Renegades had a 6-4 lead. Joe Quintanilla would make a stop to start the bottom of the 4th inning. That brought up Big G who would hit a grounder up the middle that looked like an easy out. The Renegade defense had multiple chances at it, but came up empty. Juan Gonzalez would strike out. The Comets then went to their bench. Bernardo Barrera was 0-2 with two whiffs so they called rookie Frank Muso to the plate. Muso laced a pitch into right center and the Comets were tied up and excited that their rookie gave them a shot in the arm. After 4 innings the Comets and Renegades were locked at six. In the Fifth, the Renegades could not keep the Thaxton magic alive as he went down on 4 pitches. Devenish and Quintanilla would plate runs and give the Renegades an 8-6 lead and a lot of hope. That hope would not last long Richie Schultz led off with a weak ball to the right side. Thanh Huynh and Joe Yee could not get it time and Schultz had his first run of the game. This would signify what would lie ahead in this inning. The Comets would send 10 hitters to the plate and score 7 runs. Many of these hits would elude the Renegade defense. Five of the six Renegades would have multiple chances on defense and come up empty on defense. It would go down as one of the worst innings in Renegade history. Only 13 innings in Renegade history were worse than this. The Comets had done it to Boston for the 4th time of those 13 forgettable innings. Boston would put up some fight and score two in the top of the 6th but coach Weissman pulled Shawn Devenish in this inning as he felt tightness in his leg in this game running to third. Though it was a loss, the Renegades were happy with how this team played. A Few stops on defense was the difference in this match.
Game #5 Renegades clip the Scrappers 7-5
Justen Proctor led the team with 4 stops on defense while Christian Thaxton scored twice to pace the Offense in this contest
In the first match up since 2012, the Renegades took on the Cleveland Scrappers next. These teams played ten straight years from 2003 to 2012 but none since. Cleveland has been in a rebuilding mode. Their bench was thin and their line up had two rookies but one long-term veteran in 62-year-old Wilbert turner. On the mound would be another Wiley veteran, Kevin Barrett. Boston would start fast as Thaxton scored on a high pop up to the left side. The best hit of the inning belonged to Shawn Devenish who hit a shot into left field where Jeff Dell made a nice play. For the Boston defense the story would be the work of the front men. Both Justen Proctor and Thanh Huynh would make stops for the Renegades in the first. The 2nd was a bad inning. Dickerson would throw 12 pitches and Joe Yee, Justen Proctor and Thaxton could not even earn a foul tip. The Scrappers could not take advantage in their half of the inning as Christian Keeley and Steve Miller would whiff before Thanh Huynh would stop the infamous, Wilbert Turner. In the third inning, Larry Haile would plate a run on a grounder to the left side and with one out Joe Quintanilla would hit a ball down the first base line that hugged the line for Boston’s second run of the frame. Joe Yee would hit a laser into right field and Boston would hold a 4-0 lead. Cleveland had no answer in their frame as Barrett set Stanley Griffin and Jeff dell down on strikes. Devenish would plate the only Renegade run in the 4th inning on a laser down the third base line to put Boston up 5-0. Cleveland would wake up in the bottom of fourth. Christian Keeley got the scoring started with a hard shot into right field that eluded Joe Yee. Turner would then score on a similar hit. Up next, Jeff Dell scored the third run of the frame for the Scrappers on a ball which Larry Haile and Joe Quintanilla could not grab. The Scrappers made it 5-3. In the fifth, Justen Proctor answered the challenge and scored on a grounder down the third base line that Stanley Griffin could not get to on the 5th pitch he saw. Thaxton then hit the first pitch for a run scoring grounder that rolled past Jeff Dell in left field. Boston now led 7-3. In the Bottom of the 5th, Cleveland had no answer and after Thanh Huynh made his third stop of the game off the bat of Christian Keeley, Steve Miller and Turner would strike out. With a chance to put their foots on the throat of the Scrappers, Boston struggled. 14 pitches, 13 swings and just 4 foul balls and Yee, Proctor and Thaxton would strike out off Jamie Dickerson. Justen Proctor would stop Stanley Griffin for his game leading 5 stops to start the 6th inning. Jeff Dell would hit a pop fly up the middle, which Aqil Sajjad could not find in time to make it 7-4 and give Cleveland hope. Rookie, Antonio Dobyne would strike out for the 2nd time in the game. Christian Keeley would then hit a pop fly down the first base line. Thanh Huynh broke to the line but the ball got by him and the Scrappers were now down just 7-5. Rookie, Steve Miller was looming for some Abracadabra and for the first time put a ball into play. Weissman had moved Thaxton and Yee mid game and this time, Thaxton laid out and made the play to close out the win. Boston would now be 1-1 on the day and would break for lunch with the hungry Indy Edge awaiting them for the last game of the day.
Game #6 Indy Edge have something to prove to the league mercy Ruling Gades 18-5
Coaches Jamie Dickerson, Ben Coiner, Joe Bourque and Aaron Proctor formed one of the youngest coaching staffs in Gade history (not pictured – Rob Weissman)
The Indy Edge were a team in transition in 2016 due to infernal turmoil. It started with was some issues when they did not renew their team and lost their three seed, which they owned as the RHI Extreme. Jarred Woodard left them in 2016 to pitch for the Thunder; this team took on a new look. Then after some debate in the league office as to why they could not retain the RHI seed (they finished 3rd in 2015)…they walked away from their new pitcher, Lindsay Woodard and went with teenager, Kyle Kennedy. The Edge would have a good World Series in 2016 as they had to climb from a seed that put them at the bottom of the league. In the end, they finished 7th. A very good showing for this team of veteran players and a rookie pitcher. In a show of disrespect, the Edge were talking some smack on social media about how poorly the Renegades played in the title game. They came into this 2017 match up looking to make a statement that they were a top tier team. Kyle Kennedy impressed right out of the gate. In the top of the first inning, Kennedy threw just 11 pitches. They key was he faced 8 batters and only one hitter swung and missed…at just one pitch. The Edge held a 4-0 lead. Boston would answer. Christian Thaxton scored on a hard grounder to the right side while Joe Yee would score on a grounder down the third base line and Aqil Sajjad would plate a run on a tweener that Marc Morris could not corral. In the top of the second, Proctor would stop Chris Dunleavy and Joe Yee would make two stops against Brian Christian and Pete Trejo. Larry Haile would be the only Renegade to score in the bottom of the second because Danny Foppiano would make two nice stops, one of them on a dead ball off the bat of Justen Proctor. The Edge bats would heat up and Danny Foppiano would plate a pair of runs to pace the Edge offense to a five run inning as Aqil Sajjad and Joe Yee would have some struggles in the field. Weissman was visibly upset at the play of Sajjad and would talk to him about how to lay out for a ball during this inning. In the Renegades minds, this game was about getting experience for this green team. On the other side of the field, the Edge were looking to burry the Renegades. At this point, the Boston bats would go dark. Marc Morris would stop Sajjad this time…and then Dickerson would struggle and strike out the next 5 batters over the next two frames. Good news happened in the 4th inning. The Renegades defense set the Edge down 1-2-3 as Proctor made two stops and Aqil Sajjad listened to his coach and made a diving stop on a ball off the bat of Brian Christian. Around this time, the Edge started to complain to the ump. Though they were up 10-4 in what looked like a lop-sided game, they were complaining about Dickerson’s cadence. Weissman ignored them. Dickerson toing the rubber was struggling to find consistency with his pitches and the result was bunches of strikeouts. He was not cheating in any way. The Edge complained he was telling the players when to swing the bat. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Dickerson laughed it off saying “if I was cheating I sure am not doing a good job since we are missing so often” The Edge were simply looking for every edge they could get and tried to rattle Dickerson. Things took a turn for the worst in the 5th inning. The Edge would plate eight runs in this frame with Foppiano and Marc Morris each plating a pair in this inning. The Edge had put up 18 runs and instituted the 12 run rule. The Boston Renegades truly were getting a test. As the 12 run rule was started, a few of the Edge were still complaining to the umpire about Dickerson as they showed poor sportsmanship. Boston would get the hammer in this game and lose 18-5. Kyle Kennedy would pitch a gem. He would strike out just one batter. His 3% strike out ratio was the best performance of any pitcher against the Renegades since 2009 when Darnell Booker achieved the same while pitching for the Indy Thunder. This game was a big learning moment. Luis Soto played the whole game at Rover on defense. He saw more action on defense in this game than in his entire career. He almost scored on a ball earlier in the game as well. Aqil Sajjad played the whole game at Midfield and though he stopped just one ball in 9 tries, he showed promise that he understood how to lay out for the ball. Coiner and Bourque each saw a ton of game action and improved their calling. Than Huynh was filling in at Right shorty, a position he hates…but he was improving all day long. Joe Yee and Justen Proctor were both working on their mechanics at the plate and though they were a combined 1-7 in this game, they showed promise of being able to make an impact. Boston would be ok. They were hot…very hot (as they were also the only team of the 8 teams without a canopy for this game due to the fact the winds damaged most of the canopies and there were no extras left). They would need to regroup and prepare for the Austin Blackhawks in the morning.
Game #7 Renegades down Austin 9-7 to take 5th
Thaxton plated 2 runs and made 2 stops on defense. Justen scored one and had a game leading 8 stops on defense. Larry scored three runs with two big stops in left field while Joe Yee delivered the go ahead run while breaking his finger
After playing three games in high winds, the weather was much calmer on this morning. The Austin Blackhawks would finish their bracket with just one win over Minnesota and losses against the Indy Thunder and Colorado Storm. This Blackhawk team looked very different from their world championship team of 2015. On the mound was former world champ of the West Coast Dawgs, Tim Hibner. This game started very oddly and ended in an odd way as well. Thaxton led off this game by hitting a grounder into left field. He felt the base was late and the umpires did not know how to handle this rule and did not agree the base was late. Shawn Devenish then hit a dribbler to the left side but Darius Sterling could not find it because the speaker went down into the grass. With one out, Justen Proctor also scored on a weak dribbler to Sterling with the speaker in the ground. One of the best hits of the inning came off the bat of Joe Yee who laced a shot into left but he missed third base and was put out by Brandon Chesser. After all of this controversy, the blackhawks came to bat. Steve Puryear led off with a deep drive to left but Larry Haile made a stop in deep left for a big out that would set the defensive tone. Brandon Chesser would plate a run before the Justen Proctor show would begin as he made two stops to end the inning. Shawn Devenish would score his second run of the game in another dinker to the left side and then Larry Haile would score in a bang-bang play which had the Austin spotters upset with the call. Boston would lead 4-0. In the Bottom of the 2nd, Larry Haile would make another great stop in left field to shut out Austin. The Boston bats were quiet in the third inning with only Joe Quintanilla managing to put a dribbler to the right side into play. The bottom of the third inning was Thaxton time (and not the offensive kind). He made back-to-back stops at first base against Brandon Chesser and even more impressive stop against Mariano Reynoso. Ed Manning closed out the inning for Austin by hitting a weak ball to the left side and then standing at the plate without running while Proctor easily made a play. His coaches stood there dumbfounded as Weissman giggled about thoughts of how many times a Renegade had done this in the past. For Boston, the strikeouts would start to pile up. Larry Haile would score the team’s only run in the 4th but Dickerson would strike out Devenish, Proctor and Yee for his 6th, 7th and 8th strikeout of the game. Austin got a spark in the bottom of the 4th as Faith Penn scored on a ball up the middle, which Quintanilla could not grab in time. Austin would feed off this like vultures circling road kill. Darius Sterling then plated a run. Thanh Huynh would stop Puryear but Chesser would score again and the score was now down to a 5-3 Boston lead. Huynh and Proctor would close out the inning for the Gade defense. Weissman went to the bench in the 5th and brought in Aqil Sajjad to hit for Quintanilla. On paper, this move did not appear to pan out as Aqil struck out. However, part of the move was to give Dickerson back-to -back targets in similar spots. Quintanilla’s target is one of the higher ones on the team. The result of this was Thaxton hitting a hard grounder into left for a big run. Larry Haile plated an insurance run and Boston would head into the bottom of the 5th up 7-4. Penn and Sterling would lead off the bottom of the frame with strikeouts. They were only the 2nd and 3rd of the game for Hibner. The top of the order would come up. Puryear, Chesser and Reynoso would score with two outs and tie the game up. Two of these runs would score on balls close to Thaxton and Yee, which were just off their fingertips. Close calls do not matter and Austin had tied the game at seven. Joe Yee would lead off the 6th and hit a first pitch grounder up the middle and he jetted toward third. After missing the base in the first, he was determined and he plowed right into the base for the go ahead run. He was not getting up though. We feared he may have broken a finger the way he landed and the way he was flinching in pain. Yee went to the bench a hero and uncertain of his health. Sajjad would strike out again making Weissman look foolish on paper…. BUT…on Dickerson’s 5th pitch to Thaxton, he would score a big run to give the Renegades a 9-7 lead. Yee would play defense in the 6th despite his hand (which would later be diagnosed as an evulsion fracture). Penn would lead off the bottom of the 6th for Austin and this time would be denied by Justen Proctor. Speedster Sterling would come up next and hit a weak pop down the 3rd baseline. Proctor ranged to his right and hit the ground. As he hit the ground, the ball one hopped and landed in his hands, while he was laying on his back. An amazing play that shocked Austin. Boston was fired up and one out away. Lead off hitter, Steve Puryear who had put three of his four balls into play- all of them deep, had just one run to show for it because of Larry Haile. As the count went deep, the pressure mounted and Hibner struck him out. Boston held on to win an exciting game and finish in 5th place. An exciting win and a confidence builder for this inexperienced crew. Justen Proctor would finish with 8 stops on defense and as a team; the Renegades would have 14 defensive stops. On a day when the bats did not have much, the gloves came up big. Proctor would go on to make the defensive all-star team with 23 stops on the weekend. He finished second to Stanley Griffin of Cleveland. He was the first Renegade defender since Dino Vasile to make a defensive all star team in Bolingbrook and joined Darren Black as Renegades earning this achievement.