Boston Jumps All Over Long Island 17-6
Boston entered this game needing a win to keep it’s hope for a 9th straight title alive. The team had been talking about increased focus and keeping their heads in the game. The Renegades would play this game without starting pitcher, Ron Cochran and two of its best defensive players, Justen Proctor and Guy Zuccarello. Focus would be the key.
Long Island was not ready at all, literally. As the Renegades warmed up, Long Island made it known they were going to be late. Only 4 players were at their bench for opening ceremonies. The rest of the team was in transit and would be late. Beast of the East rules state that innings would be forfeited and awarded to the Renegades if they were too late. As soon as the stragglers got there, they ran on to the field to start the game, without any warm ups. Jamie Dickerson took the mound against a frazzled Bomber defense. Despite all this, Boston was focused.
Hit after hit after hit. Boston would have an historic first inning as the Bombers were challenged before they even had a chance to break a sweat. Boston would plate 8 runs out of the gate. It marked only the 18th inning in team history they scored this many runs in an inning and it was the 6th time they had done it in the first inning (the last time was against the Bombers in the 2018 world Series). Thaxton, Dias, McCormick would each highlight the inning with a pair of runs while Shawn Devenish became a footnote making two of the three outs for the Renegade offense. During the inning, Boston actually turned to the bench quickly to avoid putting the game into a 12 run rule in the early frames to make sure the bats would not go on ice for 3-4 innings of the contest.
Long Island would surprise. Their pitcher, who helped start the Bombers before moving to the retirement communities of North Carolina had pitched limited batting practice to the squad all year. The players had no BP before the game and were cold. That did not stop them as they sent 6 batters to the plate and everyone of them made contact. It was a good test for the Renegade defense as McCormick, Buizon and Dias all made stops. But after one frame, Boston lead 8-2. That would be as close as the game would get.
Boston would plate runs in every inning building their lead and would finally get the game into the 12-run rule in the 5th inning. Most of the Bomber offense was supplied by Alex Barrera who plated 4 of the Long Island runs. The highlights for the Renegades included Christian Thaxton scoring 5 times (A feat only accomplished 16 times in Renegade history but 10 of them by Thaxton). Joe McCormick would also get his swing mechanics in shape as he plated 4 runs of his own. Joey Buizon kept a hot bat for the 2019 season plating two runs and Rookie Drew Crook laced a bomb for his 3rd run of his career. Jamie Dickerson pitched great and led this squad to victory. It was the best game he had ever pitched in his career as the team hit .531 against him with a low 21.9% K rate. Joe Bourque also came up big calling just his 4th game of his career on the right side along side of Bryan Grillo.
On the down side, Rob Dias was taken out of the game in the 3rd inning when he tweaked his back at the plate. He would not return and would spend the whole game stretching, massaging and trying to stay loose for a chance to play against Philly later in the day. McCormick and Buizon filled in admirably for Dias. McCormick led the defense with 5 stops on defense, most of which came after Dias exited the game.
This win would guarantee the Renegades a chance to get back at Philly to win the title! Boston was now 3-1 in Beast of the East play while Philly was 3-0.
Blind Jays are blinded by the Renegade bats 13-1
For the first time ever, the Toronto Blind Jays made a trip to play in Beast of the East play. Due to finances, they were only able to compete in one leg of the tournament which meant they could not play for the title. That was far from their concern as their team showed up with just 5 players and borrowed a player from the Titans to complete their roster. The last time these two teams faced was in the 2018 World Series and Toronto impressed with some flashy defense. but as teams try to find themself in this league, it can be hard to recruit players, raise funds and keep a team afloat. Coach, Arthur Pressick was doing everything he could to keep the Beep dream alive. Sadly, The Blind Jays only 2019 Tourney play would be in Jersey as they can’t return to the series this season.
With memories of how good the Blind Jay defense was in 2018, Weissman decided to start some of the bigger bats to start the game because the Renegades were the visiting team. Thaxton was a little amped up and struck out to start the contest. McCormick and Larry Haile would plate runs while Shawn Devenish would hit a bomb to put the Renegades up 3-0 to start the contest. Sometimes you an get a feel of your opponent by watching the top of their line up, Their lead off hitter would be stopped by Joe McCormick and their 2-3 hitters each whiffed. Like sharks in the water, Boston knew at this point they just needed to stay focused and the contest was theirs. Focus never comes easy after a lunch break..and the opponent was a combination of the team in front of them and the dreaded lunch comma!
The second inning would put this contest away. McCormick (2), Haile, Devenish, Yee and Thaxton would plate runs in this frame to push the score to 9-0. Weissman would bring in many subs at this point to get playing time for the team and get rest for others. Toronto was no match on this day. They struck out 14 times in the contest. McCormick and Buizon made all the stops in the first layer of the defense. Only lead off hitter Aaron Prevost could plate the lone run for Toronto in the 3rd inning on a ball Buizon could not pick up in time…but he got style points for the failure and a lot of laughs from anyone watching him struggle with a smile.
Experience is critical in this sport. Boston got a chance to get some teachings to to Renegade sluggers with limited experience. David Sanchez and Drew Crook each got lessons on paying attention to the cadence and keeping their swings consistent. For Sanchez, a second year player, he worked at adjusting his timing so he could go to the opposite field. He was able to do that twice in two trips to the plate. For Crook, he struck out 4 times while making contact on just 5 of the 18 pitches he saw. They were all mighty swings but his timing was off. This was a great teaching moment for a rookie who was 3-4 coming into this game in his career. The last player to strike out 4 times in 4 trips to the plate was Joey Buizon in 2015 against the New Jersey Lightning. Prior to that it was Shayne Cantan in his inaugural game vs the Indy thunder in 2010 when he went down on swings 5 times in 5 trips. This was the 6th time in team history a player had struck out at least 4 times and in every at bat of their day. On this day, it was not a big deal, it was going to be just the thing to get Drew focused to set him up for success at the World Series! Some of the biggest bats in Renegade lore have had big K games like this including Joe McCormick who once struck out 6 times in 7 trips to the plate in Philly. Sometimes a day like this can be a great teaching moment!
Boston Clinches 9th straight title in a no-doubter over Philly 14-3
To say there was energy in this game is an understatement. For Philly, they were looking for their first ever Beast of the East title and had already clinched their best record in Beast of the East play. They wanted to show the league they had arrived. For Boston, the Renegades wanted to show Philly that the first game in June was not who they are. They wanted to shake off the rust. They wanted to make a statement and they were going to do it without their top pitcher and two of their best defensive players. They were also going to do it with Rob Dias back in the lineup …but unable to hit due to his back strain suffered in game one earlier that day. Boston would lose the coin toss for the 3rd straight time and be the visitor. No worries the team said, they had won all of their games on this day as the visiting team. In each contest they were able to grab the lead and never look back!
Thaxton scored on a hard grounder into left on the first pith he saw. Hey Christian, Swing that bat! McCormick took the third pitch from his lifelong buddy, Jamie Dickerson and scored on another grounder to the right side. Larry Haile hit the 3rd pitch up the middle and the L-Train made it 3-0. Nobody out and Devenish laced a bomb into left. When the ball landed that marked 10 pitches, 4 runs and No outs. Philly looked tired. Mike Coughlin was able to stop Joe Yee. Joey Buizon whiffed but that brought up one of the hardest outs in the game. Could he swing that bat? YES, Thaxton hit a laser into left, Mccormick scored his 2nd run of the inning and Haile also scored his second run of the inning on a line drive. When the dust settled, Boston was up 7-0 and the energy was on the Renegade side. Had they shut up the doubters that Boston had lost it?
John Margist would lead off for Philly in the bottom of the first inning and score on a bomb of his own. Mike Coughlin (who lives to beat the Renegades struck out) Buizon then stopped Rhines and Kirchner….or did he? Philly had made a mistake and had batted out of order. The last out of the inning was actually Paul Boucher but he accidentally hit in Kirchner’s spot in the line up. After working this out, Kirchner was forced to hit in Boucher’s spot and the out was awarded.
Did Boston still have it? In the second, Yee and Buizon each saw 6 pitches before striking out. Thaxton would stay hot and lace a liner into right center t make it 8-1. In the bottom of the frame, Kirchner would get his chance to hit after the snafu and would score which fired up the Philly team despite the 8-2 score. After a gimpy Rob Dias stopped Muneer Tawam, John Margist plated is second run of the game and it was now 8-3 with Mike Coughlin coming to the plate. Could Coughlin deliver to a team that had beaten him so many times since he was a teenager? It would not be his day as he whiffed for the second time. Former baseball player and speedster, Justin Rhines also went down on swings. It just felt like water was poured on the Fire.
Boston had a chance to put the foot on the throat of the Philly squad in the third. Larry Haile would hit a laser to make it 9-3. With one out, Joe Yee stepped to the plate and hit one of his best shots of his career into left field. Justin Rhines made a diving stop at the 170 foot line and the ball rolled up his body into the air and into his hands right before Yee hit the base. An amazing play and the best defensive play of the tournament for sure! Philly would have a moment of mojo. They had the bottom of their order up…could their mojo keep going? Boucher whiffed. Kirchner whiffed and Muneer Tawam was stopped by Shawn Devenish. Boston had made a bagel. The score stood at 9-3 after three frames.
More great defense for the fire in the 4th as they showed what makes them tough. All of their goal ball experience makes them a good defensive team. This time, Cody Kirchner would make an amazing stop in Right center off the bat of Christian Thaxton. In fact, at this point of the season Thaxton had come to the plate 26 times, scored 20 and had struck out five times. This marked the first time a defense had stopped Thaxton in the 2019 season. That media guide info was not something Philly knew about and was not enough for them to get their winning ways back. McCormick and Devenish each plated runs to push the lead to 11-3. This would be a big moment for Philly and they had their top three hitters up to start the inning. K-K-K was the result and this game was all but over.
Boston would keep the pressure on scoring two more times in the 5th but it would come at a cost. Leading off the inning, Buizon collapsed on the third baseline with a leg injury. He had worked so hard during the entire off season to resolve chronic hamstring problems but today it was his calf. His day was over as he went to the bench and his teammates cringed. Doc Marciello would now have his work cut out for him. A crushing blow to the Renegades for sure. Rob Dias made three stops on defense in the bottom of the fifth to mark three straight innings of bagels for the Renegade defense. Despite the back injury in game one, he looked limber.
Thaxton would have another 5 run performance in this game as he plated a run in the 6th. Rob Dias would lead the defense with 6 stops with his gimpy back feeling better. Boston had won it’s 9th Beast of the East title in a row and in convincing fashion. The key now was to see if the Seeding committee had seen enough from the Renegades. 2019 marked the first time teams would be seeded by results of the current season and not the previous World Series finish. The votes were due in 48 hours. Were people tuning in? Did people see what the Renegades accomplished without key players? would it be enough? For now, the Renegades could relax. They played well. A lot of learning, experience and improvement had happened in two weeks since Long Island. The Renegades would head home a little banged up but would have two weeks to get ready for the series.
The final standings of the Beast of the East would look like this
- Boston 4-1
- Philly 4-1
- Titans 3-2
- Long Island 0-4 (they need to make up a game vs the Lightning that was cancelled due to rain)
- Lightning 0-4 (they need to make up a game vs the Bombers that was cancelled due to rain)
The scores on the day looked like this:
Time slot 1:
- Boston 14 Long Island 6 with the 12 run rule applied in 5 innings
- Philly 14 Lightning 4
- Titans 14 Toronto 2
Time slot 2
- Boston 13 Toronto 1 with the 12 run rule applied in 5 innings
- Philly 10 Long Island 10
- Titans 15 Lightning 0 with the 12 run rule applied in the 3rd inning
Time slot 3
- Boston 14 Philly 3
- Titans 15 Long Island 2 with the 12 run rule applied in the 3rd inning
- Toronto over NJ Lightning