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Jason Lenicheck

Baseball Hall of Fame Weekend – a Beep Baseball Bash!

Dreams of The Baseball Hall of Fame

Writtten by Rob Weissman

As a kid, I studied baseball cards and the baseball encyclopedia.  I played Strat-o-Matic baseball and even played video games while keeping score and tracking my own fake stats.  A baseball geek would be a way to describe my past present and surely my future.  At one point in life, I could open to any page of the baseball encyclopedia and I could give information on at least one player from that page.  I could intelligently debate with anyone about the merits of a player making the Baseball Hall of Fame.  I was serious about this! It helped me collect baseball cards of players who I thought would be good investments.  After all, in the 80’s, I had cards worth over $500 each with this research (and luck).

My baseball career started off great. Early in my little league career the coaches voted me to all-star teams in Farm and Minor Leagues as a first-baseman who could jump and get all the bad throws from young kids.  As I got a little bigger,  my game seemed to peek.

When I was 13, my heart broke when I received the news I was cut from the team.  That experience made me work harder.  I never got cut again from travel ball. Getting on base and playing with heart was my ticket to making the team.  Learning to play other positions  also helped make me a more marketable player.  Hitting never came easy.  As I know now, my mechanics were long.  However, I peppered the parking lots with foul balls and drew walks.  Sadly. I could not make my Junior High team or my High School team.  My Hall of Fame dreams were over….so I thought.

Our Documentary plays at the Hall

In 2013, a documentary I starred in played at the Baseball Hall of Fame Film Festival and holy crap, did that feel amazing.  People came to watch a film about our team.  People stopped us to talk about the film all weekend.  I felt like we had accomplished something special. We had helped a lot of people along the way.

My Father

On the way home from the 2015 World Series in Rochester, the Hall asked us stop to do a presentation.  Personally, it was bittersweet.  Just the day before, while sitting at the Championship game, I got a call that will live with me forever.  My dad was unconscious in an ambulance.  He passed away before making it to the hospital.

As a young boy, my dad told me stories of his professional baseball career.  I only half believed him.  After all, most kids idolize their Billy Williams Topps Baseball Card with the Cubsdad and who would think they would lie to them, at the age of like 7 or 8. This story got real for me in school.  I told my friend, Bob Sundberg this story of my dad’s baseball career. With energy and clarity, Bob quickly claimed he thought he had my dad’s baseball card.  This suddenly seemed real to me.

After a short time, we discovered this card was not Bill Weissman, but soon to be hall of famer, Billy Williams.  A joke from my dad turned into anxious excitement from this kid. It was even funnier that this story lived on for so long till we actually found the baseball card.

Seeing Bobby Doerr get inducted as part of the class of 1986 with my father was memorable.  It was exciting to see a Red Sox get into the Hall.  The flight home may have been more memorable  My dad was a pilot in those days and flew a small 4 seater Cesna with one propeller. Flying home, we hit major storms with lightning screaming by our plane.  The turbulence were so bad,  my head hit the ceiling before I buckled in.  If you think flying is scary, you would not have survived that flight.

Working with the Hall in 2015 & 2017

Back to 2015 – As I sat and watched Bryan Grillo and Guy Zuccarello talk to the Hall of Fame crowd.  I sat with pride in what we have done.  I had hopes my dad was watching.  It was exciting to give these two giant baseball fans the chance to feel what I felt in 2013.  Bryan and Guy deserved to have their own Hall of Fame moments.

I also had a chance to help someone I did not know from Texas.  Brandon Chesser, of the Austin Blackhawks was with us because I helped get his name into the Hall of Fame.  His shirt, gloves, blindfold and picture were on display at the Hall of Fame.  How cool was it that I helped make a dream come true for him?

Rob donates a bat used by Christian Thaxton to Shirley Tyler of the National Baseball Hall of Fame to represent his record batting average at the World Series

In 2017, I went back to Cooperstown and donated a Renegade’s bat used by Christian Thaxton.  Thax had set a league record, batting .897 at the World Series.  Cooperstown wanted his bat.  I brought this bat in person to the Baseball Hall of Fame Film festival.  The same festival we appeared in during the fall of 2013.  I handed the bat to Shirley Tyler with beaming pride.

Shirley and I spoke and she wanted to do a program with our team.  The seed was planted.  While at this film festival, I learned of an Author Series.  I quickly reached out to David Wanczyk to gauge his interest.  It was off the charts!  Of course, at this time, his book was not done.

Our trip to the Hall in 2018!

Beep Started it all

As the calendar changed to 2018, Dave’s book was becoming a reality.  It debuted in April, just as the buys of summer were coming Picture of the cover of the Book Beepback from Spring Training.  Shortly after there, Wanzcyk told me his book was accepted to the Author Series.  I was on the phone with Shirley Tyler.  We developed a program to tie that Author series into a day of beep baseball at the Hall of Fame!

I wrote a lot about this program in the summer and won‘t rehash it.  Instead, let me talk about the experience.  When the chips fell, ten Renegades made the trek. Joe Yee likes baseball, he can’t tell you stats, but likes the game.  He likes adventures even more and this was an adventure for him.  Rob Thayer missed the 2018 World Series due to an injury that could have resulted in the loss of a toe.  There wasn’t anything stopping him from making this trip. Rookie, David Sanchez is possibly the biggest baseball fan amongst the players and was excited to see the Hall for the first time.  Christian Thaxton played junior college baseball and was motivated to go as his bat was now in Cooperstown.

Excited to share it with this group

For the Renegade coaches, I was so excited to go with this group.  I grew up with Ron Cochran and Jason Lenicheck.  I was looking

Group picture of 12 of us at the Baseball Hall of Fame

Picture of the Renegades and Rochester Pioneers at the Hall of Fame

forward to going to this baseball mecca with guys I grew up playing with.  Bryan Grillo was also with us, my partner in crime with Red Sox season tickets and one of the fathers of beep baseball in the New England area.  On the other hand, Hunter and Teigan Weissman came along as well.  What a thrill it was to take my nephews.  They are both big baseball fans and I was anxious to show them things I knew they had never known.

We also got some help from the Rochester Pioneers.  Since they are the closest team to the Hall, I invited them.  Coach Mike Fisher and player Helen Jones came down to participate.  Also in attendance was the NBBA PR chair, Darnell Booker.  He brought with him NBBA lifer and current San Antonio Jet, Dave Benney.  These self-proclaimed baseball junkies had never been to the Hall and were so excited to be a part of it.  I was so happy to get some help, and to give them an opportunity to feel as special as I did in 2013.

My hopes and dreams

Here were my personal goals for the weekend.  I wanted everyone who came to have a part in the program and to feel special.  I wanted to share this time with my friends and my nephews and give my nephews a time they would never forget.  Getting to see  Christian Thaxton experience seeing his bat in Cooperstown would be amazing.

Anyone who knows me or sees me volunteering for the Renegades knows I go into project management mode.  I get in the zone.  It’s a pure mix of adrenaline and excitement mixed with a desire to market the sport and grow our team’s resources.  I always have an eye to the future hoped this could help us in many ways tell our story.  Over the past few years I have learned this “mode” brings me stress.  I need to breathe.  I promised myself to have mindful moments. and to sit back and enjoy what others were doing.

Daily Line up from the Baseball Hall of Fame

Daily Line up given out at the entry of the Hall of Fame to let patrons know about events that day

Here we go!

The day started off with my nephews and I lugging equipment to the Hall’s loading dock.  Like a little kid, I was so excited to be able to see the back halls of this legendary place.  Heck, I was more excited than Hunter and Teigan.  We met up with Shirley soon at the learning center.  While there, she got us some help to set up the room.  She also handed me little placards they made for us.  Let me back track.

A week before the trip, I started to come up with ideas of what we could show in the learning center.  I pulled from my talks with museum curator, Tom shieber in 2014. He told me how they tell a story through artifacts.  Late at night, I would hammer out small stories about our artifacts.  On this day, my little notes, came to life with Hall of Fame placards!

Leading off:  Grillo, Thaxton and Yee!

Huge lines were forming at the ticket office as they only had one ticket taker.  While this was happening, the hall was making announcements of our 10:00 program in the bullpen theater.  Bryan Grillo was the master of ceremonies for us there.  He had worked hard the night before to pull his presentation together with the notes from Joe Yee and Christian Thaxton.  We had a slide presentation queued up and ready to go from John Lykowski to show while they spoke.  The crowd was small, we had a few Mets fans there who stayed for the whole talk.  That did not ruin the experience for our gang.  They spoke eloquently and beamed with pride. Hunter caught the whole thing live on facebook live:

Batting Second:  Learning Center what a show!

Next up, was the Learning Center, which we would open at 11:00.  Darnell Booker, Bryan Grillo and Teigan Weissman did an amazing job inviting people into the learning center.  This room is very close to the entrance of the Hall.  Coaches and players stood in the learning center eagerly waiting the opportunity to tell their stories, explain the game and show off our artifacts.  We had over 20 artifacts to show people including obvious choices like a ball and a base.  We had Darnell’s championship ring from 2017 (we did not want his 2016 ring representing the defeat of the Renegades on display), we had marked out the distance from the mound to home on the floor, we had videos playing and so much more.  It was a huge hit.  We gave out close to 400 brochures to people in a few hours!  It was the highlight of the program.  Here is a link that will take you to a photo album showing most of the artifacts we had in the Learning center

Batting Third: David Wanczyk

At 1:00, it was time for David Wanczyk to take center stage.  In the bullpen theater, he read from his book.  He told stories about the game, talked about the history of different versions of baseball for the blind dating back over 100 years ago.  He also told the story of Ethan Johnston of the Colorado Storm.  That story is one of the most meaningful stories in the league.  You can watch his reading in our video below:

Something meaningful happened here for me.  The desk brought out for Dave to autograph his book on was familiar.  My father Stacks of "Beep" books sitting atop furniture made from my Father's factory at the Baseball Hall of Fameowned a furniture manufacturing business in Fitchburg, Mass.  In 1994, he bought a company from upstate, New York called Library Bureau.  In fact, I worked for this company till 2000.  Dave’s novels were neatly stacked on one of his tables from the Tecktonic line.  Not only are some of these pages telling stories of our squad and things I may have said, it also had a touching tribute to my late father.  Wow, this book, on his table in Cooperstown!  Chills went through my body.  In some Devine way, my dad was connected to this proud moment of my life.

Two patrons who fell in love with our sport kindly asked me for my autograph.  Wow, who am I to autograph a book in the Hall of Fame?  What an honor that was, I just hope people could read my handwriting.

Batting fourth – Come try the game!

At 2:00, we took the game outdoors to do a demo.  The closer to the museum we would be, the more people would get involved.  We did not have a big space at all. Dave Benney demonstrated how to defend a ball.  In a wet grass, he threw himself on the ground and muddied up his jeans.  Ron Cochran encouraged the group to give it a try.  Jason came up with a strange way to show them how to find a ball and walk to a base.  It gave people a sense of what its like to do these somewhat easy tasks in a very hard manner.  Everyone who was brave enough to try it, came away with a smile

While this was going on, we had re-opened the learning center as a way to feed people to the demo.  We probably kept this center open 90 minutes longer than planned due to the feedback and excitement from people who came into the room.

After the demo was over, eventually, Christian Thaxton, Ron Cochran and I went to the second floor to see Christian’s bat on display.  I will write more about that experience in another blog because that was totally mind-blowing for me.

Batting 5th – The Documentary

Dino Vasile on the “big Screen” in the Bullpen Theater at the National Baseball Hall of Fame

The amazing program wrapped up at 7:00 with a showing of our documentary.  I wish I could say the theater was full of eager Beepball fans.  Sadly, the only people there were the beep ballers.  Shirley had set my expectations this could happen because the museum was still open.  If you have ever been to the bullpen theater here, it’s not in the most central location.  It’s very off to the side, but is a hidden treasure of the Hall!  Sitting there, watching the film I had to sit and be mindful.  “Our story is in Cooperstown playing in a theater!”  We spent an entire day bringing this sport, its stories and our players to baseball fans from around the country.  I’m not sure I could ever have dreamt this up.

Closing thoughts

Logo for the Baseball Hall of FameAs I sat and narrated this movie to Dave Benney, I saw how young I looked in 2005.  I saw how raw of a coach I was.  High strung was surely a word to describe me.  The passion I have today burned so bright in those days of 2005.  Memories of the Billy Williams moment came to mind. I thought of all those baseball games I played with Ron Cochran and Jason Lenicheck in the 80’s raced past my eyes.  I just could not believe  my dream of being in the major leagues had turned to this.  I’m a coach of a baseball team for the blind with my friends and family.  We have helped change people’s lives and brought people together.  We were sitting in the National baseball Hall of fame and I’m beaming with pride, holding back tears of joy.  I’m one proud coach at this moment.  Though we are not hall of famers, we have a movie and now a book and a bat in the hall of fame.  Wow!

The Acton Beacon featured the Renegades

Three Acton-Boxboro grads from 1988 – Ace, Ron and Rob

The Acton Beacon featured the Renegades in their paper on Thursday, August 30th.  The Beacon is both a print and online resource that serves both the Acton and Boxborough community.  They are part of the Wicked-Local community and the story got picked up by a few other towns in their on-line papers as well.

Acton is an important part of the Renegades history.  Three volunteers with a combined 45 years of volunteering for this organization hailed from Acton in the 1980’s.  Rob Weissman, Ron Cochran and Jason Lenicheck all grew up on the little league fields of Acton playing with and against each other.  They played for years into and past High School as well.  Baseball has been a big part of their friendship.  “Being able to coach/Volunteer with my lifelong friends has made this experience so enjoyable”, Weissman said.  “When life finds a way to keep us all busy, we still find time to volunteer together.  It becomes something which is more than volunteering, It’s an opportunity to hang out with our friends”.

The Hall Calls

These three guys all had less than mediocre baseball careers.  Weissman and Cochran played a ton of summer ball, but could not make the High School team in the highly competitive Acton-Boxboro sports community.  Lenicheck did play some High School ball as an all-hit, error prone 3rd baseman.  Nobody who ever played with them would ever think the National Baseball Hall of Fame would want them to put on a program for the day at the Hall of Fame.  Though their baseball careers never took off, the skills they learned has made a far bigger impact on many lives.

As Ron and Jason were unavailable for the interview, Joe Yee, one of the people impacted by these three guys, pinch hit and helped talk about the game, their impact and what the sport of Beep Baseball meant to him.

Ron and Rob were also part of something special that happened at the Hall of Fame.  One of their players, Christian Thaxton has his bat on display in Cooperstown as Christian set the league record hitting .897 in the 2017 World Series.  In Beep baseball, the Pitcher and catcher are part of a team working with (as opposed to against) the hitter.  In Beep baseball, the Pitcher and catcher are on the same team.  Ron did an amazing job of grooving pitch after pitch in Christian’s wheel house.  Weissman sat behind the dish and identified and set a target for Cochran to trust as well as making sure Thaxton was set up in the batters box in the right spot.  All three of these guys worked together to communicate on timing and adjustments.  All three of them were damn proud to see Thaxton’s bat enshrined in Cooperstown!

The article can be read here:  The article also appeared in the Watertown Tab and the Wicked Local Braintree paper! We have it in PDF as well

Picture of the print version of the article from the front page of the Beacon sports page - in color

 

 

2018 World Series Day #4 game recaps

A bid for a top 4 finish falls short to the Jets 11-8

World Series photo of the team

Team photo of Your 2018 World Series Renegade team

Friday morning and the Renegades were just one of six teams still alive with hopes of a World Series title.  This was only the 5th year in team history this had ever happened, but it was the 5th consecutive time.  The Renegades opponent would be the San Antonio Jets.  The Jets entered this tournament as a team many felt would be in the finals.  They came in as the three seed but were knocked off during the week by the Bayou City Heat.  These teams had only played once historically as the Jets started their franchise in 2016.  Boston won that contest by a big margin.  Make no mistake, this jets team is run by a bunch of guys who have rings while playing for the Austin Blackhawks.  Boston would need to be on their game to face this big challenge

To lead off the game for the Jets,  Zach Arambula hit a grounder down the third base line.  Bryan Grillo groaned out the call giving Joe Yee a hint the ball was down the line.  Yee laid out too soon and did not track the ball well.  San Antonio was on the board and Boston was off to a tough start.  Axel Cox  brought his rings from Austin to the plate and whiffed for the first out.  David Crystal Smith worked the count to three strikes and then lofted a high fly ball which bounced of Shawn Devenish’s chest in left field.  Devenish could not corral it and San Antonio led 2-0.  Aaron Almanza then lofted a high fly ball down the third base line bouncing right near Joe Yee, but Yee hit the ground to early and the ball got away from him for a run.  The Almanza connection brought Rene to the plate and he lofted a deep fly into left field where Shawn Devenish made a nice play for the second out.  A great play for Shawn who had worked so hard on his defense since his rookie campaign in 2016.  Ricky Ruzika then hit a line drive to the right side off the chest of Rob Dias who was playing on the Right Shorty position,  Dias kept cool and picked up the ball in plenty of time for the out.  A rocky start to the inning ended with two great plays.   The Jets led 3-0.

For Boston, Christian Thaxton led off the inning with a hard ground ball bouncing of the left front man, Isaiah Wilcox.  As Thaxton raced toward first, Zach Arambula crept up from his left center position to pick up the ball in time for a big  Jets out.  Rob Dias then lined the 2nd pitch he saw to the right side and raced toward first base.  Axel Cox ranged to his right but Dias was too quick and put the Gades on the board.  Looking to the tie the game, McCormick laced the second pitch he saw into left center.  Zach Arambula ranged over and made a great play to nail Joe for a big out.  Joe Yee would then strike out to end the Renegade’s inning.  The defense of Arambula and Joe Yee would be a difference in this first inning.  The Jets led 3-1 after a full frame.

In the second inning, the Jets would be back at the top of the order.  Zach Arambula could not get going here and led off with a rare strike out, a gift for the Renegades.  Number two hitter, Axel Cox hit a hard grounder up the left side that eluded Justen Proctor and rolled out to the rover spot where Shawn Devenish laid out for his 2nd stop of the game.  Boston had a chance to get out of the inning unscathed.  Smith came up and hit another deep ball to left field right at Devenish.  Shawn had it lined up but when he hit the ground, his arms got pinned under his body like T-Rex, and these little arms could not grab the ball in time.  He made a great play to line it up, but he used poor mechanics and that would hurt. The pain continued.  On a fly ball  down the third baseline off the bat of Aaron Almanza,  Joe Yee hit the ground too early and could not pick the ball cleanly.  Rene Almanza would hit another line drive that would bounce of Rob dias’ hulking chest.  That “chest” made the stop.  The Jets were now up 5-1.  Boston had lined up 4 of the 5 plays but was playing too tight on defense.

Shawn Devenish led of the 2nd inning and with two strikes hit a weak grounder to Ricky Ruzika at the right shorty spot for a room service out.  Larry Haile came off the bench to pinch hit for Joe Buizon and hit the first pitch he saw down the third base line.  Haile raced down the third base line as Wilcox raced back to the line  Wilcox gave way to Almanza and that hesitation would be enough for this perfectly placed tweener to plate a Renegade run.  Back to the top of the order and Christian Thaxton dug in at the plate.  Down to his last strike, Thaxton laced a bomb into left to bring the Renegades back to a 2 run deficit.  Next, Rob Dias smoked a line drive up the middle, but Zach Arambula was in the right place at the right time and the ball kicked off his shin.  He was able to recover and put Rob out for the second out of the inning.  Isiah Wilcox would end the inning by making a nice play on a weak pop up to the left side off the bat of Joe McCormick.  The Jet’s defense was making more plays than the Renegades.

Leading of the third inning would be the six-hole hitter, Ricky Ruzika.  Ruzika who blasted on to the beepball scene in 2016 had not been practicing as often in 2018 and was not hitting during the series.  He led off the inning with a strike out.  Zach Arambula then hit a worm bunrer down the third base line.  Justen Proctor made a great play running back toward the line and gobbled it up for his first stop of the game.  Again, the Renegades had a chance for a 1-2-3 inning.  Axel Cox stood in the way of this goal.  With two strikes he hit a 40 foot dribbler to the 40 foot arc.  Justen Proctor raced in to the line and could not hear it.  Cox plated a gifted run.  On the very next pitch, Bryan Grillo called a short ball and Proctor raced in as the ball rolled past him.  He had to put on the brakes and run backwards.  The bad call cost the team a run and Smith had his 3rd run of the game.  Aaron Alamanza decided to pick on Justen Proctor again and hit a weak grounder to him.  The ball kicked off Proctor’s body.  He made a nice play to get to his feet and chase it down, but he could not hear it in the grass and the Jets had 3 straight runs off one of the best defenders in the game.  For the 3rd straight inning, Rob Dias would stop the bleeding and make a nice stop on a fly ball to the right side.  The Jets were up 8-3 against a shaky Renegade effort.

The bottom of the third inning would start with Joe Yee.  In a comic moment, Yee fouled the ball to the Renegade bench and coach, Jason Lenicheck caught it on the fly.  He then fired it over the head of Ron Cochran into the San Antonio bench, much like he did as a third baseman for Acton Boxboro High School.  Joe Yee then grounded a ball up the middle where Zach Arambula stopped him for the first out.  Shawn Devenish had no answer as he struck out.  Weissman gambled next.  Joe Buizon had hurt his hamstring against the Blind Jays on day one of the Series after scoring three times.  Buizon had told him he was ready to go and Weissman rolled the dice looking to get something going  down by 5 runs.  That gamble failed.  Buizon went down on 4 straight pitches.  Boston had a donut for the inning.

The Jets had a chance to put some distance between them and Boston and extend their five run lead.  They would start the inning by pinch-hitting for struggling Ricky Ruzika.  Will Lopez would get his first at-bat against the Renegades in his career.  Lopez,  a rookie in 2017 was hurt much of that campaign.  He wasted little time and on the second pitch hit a weak ball up the middle of the field.  Proctor ranged to his left and stopped it but could not pick it up.  A disturbing trend.  Zach Arambula delivered on the first pitch he saw.  Cox then hit a grounder up the left side that alluded both Proctor and Devenish.  At the start of the inning, Weissman had moved Joe McCormick over to third base.  David Smith hit a grounder past Proctor’s left.  McCormick ranged way to his left and made a big stop for the Renegades to pick up Justen.  Aaron Almanza then hit the first pitch he saw down the third base line.  Proctor raced to the line and as he went to the ground, the ball got tangled up in his legs and he pinned it and made the play.  Proctor was all smiles and never lost his cool.  Rene Alamnza then lofted the first pitch he saw to the right side.  Rob Dias tried to line it up and as he was making the play, Almanza missed first base.  Dias had the last out of the inning for the 4th inning in a row.

Weissman asked the team if they were done.  Haile led the team in a big cheer and Thaxton stepped to the plate.  On the third pitch, Thaxton hit a grounder down the third base line and scored for the second time.  The ball hugged the baseline and the defense could not pick the ball cleanly.  Rob Dias hit a shot into left center.  Zach Arambula was there again for a big stop taking the ball away from the Renegades.  Joe McCormick laced a weak line drive off the back of Ron Cochran on the first pitch that was headed to Arambula.  On the next pitch, he hit a weak grounder up the middle of the field and Wilcox made the play easily.  Larry Haile was looking to extend the inning as he was entering the game as a pinch hitter for Joe Yee.   Haile hit a line drive to the right side and on a bang-bang play, the umpire ruled in favor of Rene Almanza who ranged to make this play near the line.  Boston hit the ball well, but had just one run to show for it.  After four innings, the Jets held a commanding 11-4 lead.

In the 5th inning, The Jet’s brought back Ricky Ruzika who had been pinch hit for.  He would lead off the inning with a strike out.  That trend followed when Zach Arambula also struck out.  For the first time all game, Boston would get a 1-2-3 inning when Shawn Devenish made a nice play deep in the defense off the bat of Axel Cox.  For the first time, Boston had some momentum.  As things sometimes work in baseball, if you make a nice play on defense, you lead off the inning.

Lead off the inning is exactly what Shawn Devenish did.  The Renegades were down to their final 6 outs and down 7 runs.  That is scary math for sure.  Devenish would work the count deep as he would miss the first two pitches and then foul off three straight before lofting a pop fly  about 60 feet to the left side.  His new-found speed beat out the play.  This brought the experiment, Joe Buizon back to the plate.  Could he run was the question.  On the 2nd pitch, he hit a pop fly that traveled about 42 feet with back spin.  Ruzika raced in and struggled to find it.  Buizon was not running well and then resorted to poor base running technique when he flopped before the base.  Weissman was regretting letting him hit as he had not seen him run before the game.  Buizon was gutting it out, but his leg was just to injured.  He was playing with all heart at this time.  Thaxton then rolled his wrists over and hit a grounder to the left side and beat it out for his third run of the contest.  It was just the 2nd time in the game they had put up a crooked number in an inning.  Rob Dias was on fire.  He had three at bats leading up to this one and had seen just 4 pitches that resulted in three quality hits.  He stayed hot and hit a bouncer to the left side.  It got by Wilcox in the front but Arambula dove in head first on this ball and stopped Dias.  The Jets ran off the field..but there were only two outs.  The Jets influenced the Renegade battery and Weissman and Cochran limped to the bench.  When the confusion resolved, McCormick crushed the ball by the entire defense in right center.  Haile would get close as he crushed a ball down the third base line which would have been a run but it rolled foul by just a few inches.  He then struck out to end the inning.  Boston had pulled the game to a 4 run deficit and trailed 11-7.  They really needed a solid 6th inning of defense.

The Renegades were playing looser and more confident.  David Smith would leadoff the inning with three runs on the game.  Smith and Aron Almanza would represent 6 of the 11 Jet runs,  Smith hit the first pitch up the gut of the defense.  This time Joe Buizon (who re-entered for defense in this inning) made a tremendous stop on a bouncer for a big out.  Aaron Almanza and Rene Almanza would strike out giving Kevin Sibson seven strike outs in the game as the Jets went down on their second donut inning of the game.  They left the door open for the Renegades to come back.

The winner of this game would advance to the next round.  The loser would be eliminated.  Boston would have their 5-6-1 spots in the line up to start the inning and would need 4 runs to tie.  It was do-able for sure.  Boston had been hitting the ball better than the Jets. The key difference in this game was the play of Zach Arambula on defense who had six stops on defense in left center at this point of the game.  On Boston’s side, Justen Proctor was just 2-10 while playing defense at Left Shorty.

It would be an uphill battle for sure.  The 5/6 spots in the order were just 2-6 on the day.  Could Devenish light a fire for the Renegade offense as he did on defense all day?  He hit a hard bouncer up the left side that bounced over Wilcox.  Zach Arambula stole the show in this game with his defensive play. Arambula who had his best game of the tourney in this match ranged way to his right to make a nice stop.  Joe Yee re-entered the game for the hobbled Buizon and hit a dribbler to Wilcox.  Isiah misplayed it as it slowly rolled away from him as he was on the ground.  Yee took a perfect line down the third baseline and scored.  Christian Thaxton was next up and gave the Renegade bench a ton of hope.    On the first pitch, he hit a grounder right to Wilconx.  Isiah made the play like a hockey goalie on his knees.  A dangerous attempt for sure, but the out as made.  It was a huge out for the Jets.  Rob Dias was on fire and was next up.  He stayed hot and fouled off the first pitch he saw.  That was 6 pitches from Cochran in his 5 trips to the plate.  He made contact on every one of them.  Something happened, Maybe San Antonio Voodoo?  Cochran and Dias would suddenly lose it.  Three straight pitches and no contact.  A strike out, the game was over.  Boston was eliminated.

It was not a good defensive effort for the Renegades.  Boston actually may have hit better than the Jets, but the Jets defense was much improved, especially in left center.  The Jets would go on to play the Indy Edge next, and beat them.  They would eventually lose to the Bayou City Heat and finish 3rd in the World Series.  Boston would walk across the field to play the Austin Blackhawks.  An Austin team with many ties to the Jets as pitcher Kevin Sibson’s brother, Wayne was still playing with Austin.

Boston vs Austin for 5th place and Boston makes a statement

Hunter Weissman was the team intern in 2018, learning a lot to help with his sports management degree. He was your eyes and voice for all the live streams in 2018

Austin has more rings than any team in league history.  Boston is the only team that has ever risen from the doormat of the league to the top by using only players from their region.  Ron Cochran expressed his distaste for consolation games, which in some way, this game represented.   Joe Quintanilla was quick to state, the season is so short, every game counts.   Tornado sirens tore through the complex just before the Renegades found the field.   When the hour delay was over without damage, both teams would trot out their starting line ups and the battle was on.

Austin won the coin toss and chose home team.  Before the game, Christian Thaxton and Weissman decided to have Thaxton switch back to a metal bat.  Combine that with the fact, he felt the best had felt since his concussion 2 weeks prior and you could see Christian was almost back to himself.  On the second pitch of the game, Thaxton hit a bomb into left and scored.  Time was called.  The ball was dead and Thaxton had to return to the plate.  It was the first dead ball the Renegades hit all week.  On the very next pitch, Thaxton hit a rainbow into deep left for a score.  After a Dias strike out and a McCormick dribbler to the Austin left shorty, Darius Sterling, Larry Haile came to the plate. He hit a line drive into left that looked like a run, but deep man Brandon Chesser stopped him.  This had a similar feeling to the previous game when Zach Arambula of the San Antonio Jets killed Boston making grabs in left center.

In the Bottom of the first, Boston would catch a break as the Blackhawks lead off hitter struck out to start the game.  Boston was loose and that may have contributed to some of their best defense of the week, a sweet feeling after the stinker they played just an hour earlier.  Austin pitcher, Tim Hibner tried to test the right side of the defense in this inning and came up empty as Rob Dias stopped Steve Puryear at the right shorty spot.  Mike Finn then went to the right side and was stopped by first basemen, Joe McCormick.  boston led 1-0 and won the first inning.

Shawn Devenish led off the second with a line drive up the middle, but Like Haile in the previous inning was stopped on a nice play deep in the defense by Mike Finn.  Joe Yee came into the game to hit for Joe Buizon and scored on a grounder up the middle that Finn could not find.  Thaxton then waving his metal bat hit a pop fly to the right side and flew down the line for his second run of the game,  Rob Dias then tagged a laser into right for his first run of the game.  The ball seemed to be jumping off the Renegade bats!  Joe McCormick was stopped on a weak fly to the right side by Jamie Sibson.  Guy Zuccarello was up next, he had entered for defense when Haile made the last out of the 1st inning.  On the 5th pitch he saw he hit a pop fly to the third base line and he beat out the defense.  Boston was up 5-0

Austin had their 4-5-6 hitters up.  Justen Proctor stopped Greg Roberts.  Next, Joe Yee, playing third base, made a nice grab to stop  Mariano Reynoso.  Darius Sterling struck out.  Boston had the momentum for sure!

The third inning would be a statement inning for Boston.   Larry Haile re-entered the game as Weissman was looking for some offense, and on 6 pitches, he struck out.  Back to the top as Thaxton was feeling hot.  He hit a bomb into left field which Chesser could not coral in time.  Rob Dias then scored on a grounder up the middle after hitting Cochran on the first pitch.  Joe McCormick lofted a fly ball to the right side for his first run and the top of the order went 1-2-3 with runs, something these guys pay attention to and celebrate.  Joe Quintanilla was brought off the bench on a hunch by Weissman to attack the right side.  Attack it he did, but the wheels fell off when he was running and he was stopped by Jamie Sibson on a play he would have scored on in previous years when he was younger and quicker and lighter.  Shawn Devenish joined the fun with a line drive into right, by everyone for the 4th run of the inning to bring the score to 9-1 as Boston was on the brink of something special.  Larry Haile then hit his second pitch into right field on a line and a 12 run game was in sight.  Thaxton, Dias and McCormick got the ball in the air for their second 1-2-3 run scoring trip through the same inning.  Boston led 13-0 and if they could hold Austin would put the game into a 12 run mercy rule.

Brandon Chesser started off the inning with a ball that got by Joe McCormick and Shawn Devenish on the right side.  If Austin could score one more run, the mercy rule would be avoided.  Justen Proctor had something to say about that as he stopped Puryear and Finn.  Ed Manning struck out in a pinch hit appearance for Greg Roberts.  Boston had 12-runned Austin for the first time ever in just three innings.

Now Boston had to play defense as Austin had 9 outs to work with.  Austin was capable of coming back and Weissman knew it.  They are a team that knows how to put the ball into play.  The Renegades would need to “flash the leather”!

In the 4th, Proctor would stop Reynoso.  Dias would stop the speedy Sterling and Dias would also get Brandon Chesser, their best hitter.  Tim Hibner kept aiming for the Renegade right side.  He would come up empty.  Dias did the damage in the 4th.  In the 5th, Hibner got it by Dias, but McCormick was the hero.  Joe Mac ate up Puryear and Finn before Proctor stopped Manning.  Now the attention turned to getting players playing time as both teams had huge rosters.  Soto went on to the field to play defense for Devenish.  Austin would go to the bench for the next three hitters.  Justen would make two stops in this frame and ball game!  Boston would get its 4th straight (and only four) top 5 finishes.

This game marked the 4th win by the Renegades by the 12-run rule in 2018. The Blackhawk coaches stood in shock and amazement at how well the Renegades hit.  Mike Maguire of Austin said the team had not hit like that since 2016 and wondered out loud why they were taking it out on Austin.  He may have been close in that statement.  The exact same thing could be said of the Boston coaches, only their surprise was that it took this long to show it.  For the game, Boston hit .591.  The Renegades have only hit .571 or higher 16 times ever in a game, but it was the 5th time in 2018.  On defense, it marked the 2nd time in the week Boston made 14 stops as the opponent only struck out 4 times.  Boston has only accomplished this feat 18 times in a 6 inning game ever!  In addition to this, Boston stopped 93.3% of the balls hit into play (14/15), which statistically is only the 9th best percentage.  However, it’s the highest percentage with so many balls in play.

The week’s defensive effort would rank the Renegades 2nd in the league in defense for the World Series behind only the Indy Thunder.  If that defense had played an average game vs San Antonio, the team could have had a top three finish.  The Renegades are an elite team in the NBBA.  After the game, the team had a long talk.  All the players could taste what had happened.  They knew they did not play well vs San Antonio.  They know they could have done better.  The talk turned to 2019 and the players seemed unified at working harder and getting faster.  Time will tell, but this team is a special team for sure.

Three major injuries kept one of their best defenders (Thaxton) off the field.  These injuries also kept Thaxton’s bat quiet early in the week and ended the season offensively for Sanchez and Buizon.  For a Renegade team to overcome this shows heart, grit and determination.  Only one team in this league other than Boston could overcome that, the World Champion Indy Thunder.  Be proud of your 2018 Boston Renegades!

To read more about the World Series, see our other posts

The Renegade Report Podcast visits with Jason Lenicheck

Our very own Tim Syphers hosts the Renegade Report Podcast

Our very own Tim Syphers hosts the Renegade Report Podcast

Our fourth installment of the Renegade report features Tim Syphers talking with Jason “Ace” Lenicheck a long time coach on both the offensive and defensive sides of the game for the Renegades.  Ace started with the Renegades in the 2004 season and has been one of the masterminds in helping improve the play on the field and the coaching off it.  Ace started primarily as a hitting coach but over the years has morphed into a defensive caller as well as a hitting coach.  When he joined the Renegades he was the most experienced coach the team had and has helped the coaching staff grow over the years.  He may not be a household name in the NBBA as he has attended two world series (2014-2015) but he has been with the sport for what will be his 13th season in 2016!

In the first 3 episodes Tim has explored the game with

Episode 1 – Guy Zuccarello, a former defensive MVP of the World Series and one of the leaders of the Renegades

Episode 2 – Larry Haile, the All-time Renegade leader in runs scored and one of the most amazing visually impaired people you will ever meet

Episode 3 – Christian Thaxton, The rookie sensation from 2015 who took the league by storm and made an all-star team as a rookie
To get the podcast started, we have created an account on soundcloud and you can find the podcast here

Please follow Tim and his Journey to tell our stories!

Tim worked with us to develop this podcast to improve his radio skills and to help the team.  If you have a passion you want to pursue whether its journalism, fundraising, project management, design, Public relations…We have plenty of opportunities…just ask us at bostonrenegades@gmail.com and maybe we can partner with you!

 

To easily access our prior other podcasts you can listen here: