Boston sleep walks over Athens 11-4
A 6:15 am flight with an additional three hour delay got us into Dallas where a 4 hour ride awaited us on Monday. One of our vans had a flat tire. We rolled into Tulsa around 6:00 on Monday night with three games starting at 8:30am on Tuesday morning. Excited and tired and out of our normal pre game routine we had to go to be as rested as possible.
We had never played Athens. They had finished in the bottom of the league every year they had participated but this roster was different. They sported four players from Long Island and New jersey. They had a very good looking rookie in Cody Jeffares. Most impressively, Justin Holland won the longest ball hitter competition the night before as a second year player.
The Renegades were a little short handed. Rob Dias could not get his back to respond to the long trip and could not get loose. He was sitting this out. Joe Buizon who tore a calf muscle in his last game, two weeks back would also sit this out. Only 11 of the players were eligible for the game.
Boston lost the coin toss and Boston would limp through the first inning as Ron Cochran struggled to find bats. Only Larry Haile and David Sanchez would score as Thaxton, Devenish and Proctor would strike out. That would be a theme. For Athens they also struck out three times but Casey Bahn was able to pull Athens within a run.
More of the same as Thaxton and Haile would plate runs in the second. But Quintanilla, Devenish and Sanchez would whiff to give the Gades 6 strike outs in two innings. Joe McCormick was able to stop John Still at the right shorty spot in the bottom of the second but the K’s kept coming.
Boston would score a pair of runs in the third and fourth as well with Thaxton, Haile and Sanchez representing the offense. After 4 innings Boston would lead 8-2 and this game felt over. To this point Athens had 10 strike outs and Boston 8.
The 5th was a terrible inning for Boston for a few reasons. First, Rob Dias accidentally mistook an inquiry for his health and put himself into the defense in the 4th, which meant Hot Tub had to hit for him in the 5th. 12 pitches to Devenish, Sanchez and Thayer and Boston had the KKK for the frame.
The 6th was a momentum builder as the team started to wake up. Joe Quintanilla scored his first run of the season to lead off. Rookie, Andrew Crook laced a grounder to the right side for his first World Series run. Most importantly, Shawn Devenish and Cochran found the spot as Devenish hit a bomb into left for the best struck ball from the Renegade offense. This would boost Shawn’s confidence that the work he put in all year was paying off.
In the end, Athens whiffed 14 times and Boston a dirty dozen. It was an ugly start to the day but Boston won handily 11-4. Thaxton and Haile each scored a tri-fecta while David Sanchez also scored a pair to pace the offense. The Boston defense only made 4 stops as Joe McCormick led the way with a pair. This win marked the 150th in team history with Rob Weissman as the coach!
Renegades win first ever match against team from Dominican in 4 inning 12 run rule 19-10
A team we had only seen play through the eyes of Jason Lenicheck who scouted them in the morning contest came to field 14 and right out of the gate we
jumped in to help them. David Sanchez (Puerto Rico) and Luis Soto (Venezuela) greeted them at home plate in Spanish. Sanchez would play the role of interpreter the entire game helping the umpire communicate with the Dominican squad in Spanish.
They came out of the gate with some nice looking swings and plated two runs on the two balls they put into play. When Boston came to the plate in this game, things looked very different. Cochran had worked on the spots and some of the kinks were starting to get worked out. Thaxton scored on a line drive into left in the first pitch. McCormick hit his second pitch up the middle for a run. Haile went deep into the count and scored on a line drive into center. This would be a milestone run for Haile as he would become the first ever Renegade to plate 300 runs! Devenish laced a rocket up the middle in the first pitch and just like that Boston had 4 straight runs to start the contest. The quick pitch counts would continue but Sanchez would be stopped up the middle by Riky Santana and Joe Yee would lace a rocket to left that sent Michael Vargas into a dive to make an amazing stop as the ball hit him in the chest as he was diving to the ground and he quickly corralled it. Thaxton and McCormick would score again with two outs and Boston had taken a 6-2 lead.
The Hurricanes showed spunk. After Justen Proctor stopped the six hitter, Ferrero and lead-off man, Michael Vargas whiffed, they scored three straight runs to make the game 6-5 after one and a half innings. In the Bottom of the second, the Designated Fielder, Valero made a diving stop on a Shawn Devenish blast into center field for another Web Gem. Quintanilla and Yee would go down and Boston had a bagel for the inning and the Hurricanes seemed to come to life on their bench.
In the top of the third, Justen Proctor took over. The 6-1-2 hitters were each stopped in succession by the body and ears of Justen who was starting to get a feel for the fields. In a one run game, this was a huge moment. It started the momentum shift back to Boston for sure. Boston would soon have a big inning. Thaxton lofted a towering fly ball with three strikes and was almost at the base by the time the ball came to rest. McCormick hit a bomb to left but Michael Vargas made a great web gem stop. That did not deter Boston as Haile, Devenish, Sanchez and Yee plated runs. The hurricanes stopped the bleeding getting Thaxton out in center field and Vargas made another spectacular play against McCormick. A 5 run inning left the game 11-5. That seemed to take the energy out of the small team from the Dominican. They looked tired.
In the 4th, Proctor would make his 4th stop in a row off the bat of Riky Santana. With two out, Christian Thaxton would make his first atop of the 2019 season in left field off the bat of Christian Sanchez. That was two shut out innings for the Boston defense. The bottom of the fourth was the hammer. Larry Haile got the party started with a line drive into right center. Devenish scored on a grounder. Luis Soto came off the bench to hit with Jamie Dickerson taking the mound and he scored on a pop fly as the team erupted. It was Jamie’s first World Series run and a confidence booster for Soto. Joe Yee checked in with a two pitch at bat and a line drive into left. Thaxton tagged a bomb into left. McCormick used his speed to beat out a ball up the middle (staying away from Vargas). Larry Haile then hit a grounder down the first base line. The damage was done. That was 7 up and 7 in and the 12 run rule was in effect as Boston led 18-5 and there was still nobody out! Joe Yee would tack a run on after the barrage of scoring. After four Boston led 19-5. These 19 runs would mark the 11th time in team history the Renegades would score 19 or more runs in a game. It was also the 9th best team batting average in a game at .613. Most impressively, Cochran and Dickerson only struck out 6.5% (2 of the 31 hitters) which is 3rd best of any game in history!
The Renegades would empty the bench to get people rest for the Austin game. In the 6th inning. Rob Dias took over on defense helping to make two stops. Soto (fist base), Joe Yee (third base) Joe Quintanilla ( mid field), Rob Thayer (rover) all had chances to make stops in the sixth but came up empty. In fact, in this inning, Quintanilla would sprain a toe and be done for the day and eventually the rest of the season. The last put out of the game was awarded to Joe Buizon because the Dominican team was cheering in the middle of the play. Boston had won the two games it needed to win. Drew Crook (hamstring) and Joe Quintanilla (toe) were both lost for the day with injuries and Boston awaited Austin.
Part one of the broadcast
Part 2 of the broadcast
Austin walks off on Boston 18-17
Round robin play and most of the league felt this was going to be one of the best games of the day as the five and six seeds were facing off. Both teams entered the game 2-0 and only one team would finish the day undefeated. Boston had a 7 game winning streak on the line.
Boston was not at full strength in this game with Buizon settled in as a designated fielder, Rob Dias on the bench resting a bad back and Justen Proctor would have to be forced into action in the lineup as his defense is too important to the team. Austin was at full strength as they would be all week without the injured Mariano Reynoso who was lost for the year in the spring due to a shoulder injury. Both teams knew each other pretty well as they faced off in the last game of the 2018 World Series with the Renegades putting the game into the 12 run rule with an offensive breakout! Going into this game both teams expected lots of runs from Christian Thaxton, Brandon Chesser and Mike Finn. That prediction would not hold true.
On the second pitch of the game, Christian Thaxton hit a blast into left field but on contact, he appeared to kill the ball. It was confirmed by umpire, Mike Woodard. The ball was dead and by rule, Thaxton returned to the batters box with an 0-1 count. He fouled off two more pitches and then struck out as Austin cheered a big out. That would start a surprising trend for this game. McCormick and Haile would pick him up scoring on just three pitches. McCormick hit a dribbler that just cleared the 40 foot arc and Larry hit a laser down the first base line. That brought Shawn Devenish to the plate. He fouled off 4 straight pitches and then hit a ground ball but took two steps to first before reversing direction and was put out by a few steps for the second out of the inning. Joe Yee kept his hot bat alive with a grounder to the left side to make it 3-0. This brought David Sanchez to the plate who was a last minute add to the lineup when Boston lost the coin toss. He lofted a fly ball up the middle to make it 4-0. Thaxton strode to the plate looking to extend things and would strike out again. This would be the first time in his career he would strike out twice in the same inning as he struggled a bit with his timing and comfort.
Boston would take the field and struggle out of the gate to adjust to the field…but they would be close. Brandon Chesser hit a grounder right off Joe Buizon’s hands on the right side for a run. Mike Finn hit the very next pitch that bounced over Joe Yee and then bounced of Thaxton’s shoulder and as expected the top two guys scored. After two strike outs (a rare thing for Austin) Ed Manning came up. After being late on two pitches, Tim Hibner caught him and he went oppo getting a ball past Buizon and Joe McCormick who over ran it. Sterling then hit a first pitch dribbler up the middle. Proctor hit the ground early and Buizon slid over. It got by both of them. Devenish came up from the mid field spot and the ball went off his shins to tie the score at four all. Weissman called time out to talk to the defense about adjusting to the grass. After the talk, Chesser hit a bomb into right center that Shawn Devenish and McCormick converged on. Devenish made the play of the game ranging to his left to stop the bleeding on a bang bang play.
The second inning would not be kind to Boston. Three grounders to the left side and three outs by Austin in the second layer of their defense as they were better prepared for the fields. Some great defense by Brandon Chesser and Greg Roberts.
Leading off for Austin was Mike Finn who hit a grounder up the middle that Shawn Devenish stopped after the ball bounced off him. Keep in mind, Shawn just started playing this mid field position less than 2 weeks before this series in preparation of Buizon’s injury in Jersey. After Steve Puryear whiffed for the second time in the match, Greg Roberts stepped up and on the 6th pitch he saw, lofted a ball into center that eluded Devenish and Thaxton as Devenish hit the ground too early on a fly ball. Justen proctor would end the inning with a defensive stop on a weak hit. After two Austin led 5-4.
In the third, Joe Yee hit a line drive into left to tie the game on the first pitch he saw, tying it up. This brought Justen Proctor to the plate and he hit a grounder up the middle that was in between all the defenders. He ran by first base and by the time he put on the brakes and came back, Ed Manning picked up the ball. The second run of the game lost to bad base running for the Renegades. Thaxton laughed when he came to the plate and said it was ironic that the player with the best ears on the team missed a base. Thaxton would get a ball into play but Sterling was able to stop it and get it off the ground on a bang bang play. Joe McCormick would plate another run as Boston would take a 6-5 lead heading into the bottom of the third.
Austin would start the inning with a whiff by their number six hitter, Darius Sterling but then would get hot and have their best inning of the game. Brandon Chesser on a full count hit a hard grounder to the right side, but the ball bounced off McCormick in right field for the tying run. Finn hit a grounder to the left side that bounced over Justen and bounced off Joe Yee. Two grounders that could have ended the inning but instead extended the inning. Steve Puryear got off the schneid by hitting a ball that bounced of Joe Buizon’s head. The original call was out but it was over turned and he was called safe to give Austin an 8-6 lead. Greg Roberts hit a fly ball down the third base line but Joe Yee took a bad step on it and then it bounced off his hands as 4 guys scored in a row. Joe McCormick made a nice stop off one of the best hits in the inning on a line drive up the middle off the bat of Ed Manning. Sterling then hit a weak ball to the right side which Buizon just missed but Sterlings speed was too quick for Justen who picked the ball up on a bang bang play. Lead off hitter, Chesser then hit a hard grounder right off Justen and the ball bounced off him all the way to the line. Proctor gave chase but Brandon beat it out for a run. Every run scored this inning had bounced off a Renegade defender. Proctor would stop the bleeding off the bat of Finn. Austin led 11-6. It was a six run inning for the Austin offense. Every hit was contested by the Renegade defense. It was a matter of adjusting to the field. The Renegade lacked energy and it showed. The good news was there was no quit!
The top of the 4th started off well as Shawn Devenish would get things going. He hit a line hugger down third base that was too far for Sterling to get to and too shallow for Chesser. Yee would be stopped with a weak hit up the middle. Proctor would get an at bat and go down on 4 swings and misses. Thaxton would hit a hard grounder into left. Chesser would make a play as the ball hit him in the hands in a play that made it look easy and lucky. Austin was fired up to stop Thaxton. Boston was down 11-7. The Austin defense was out playing Boston.
The bottom of the 4th started off promising. Puryear had 4 swings and missed and for the third time in four trips he struck out. Proctor would stop Greg Roberts next laying out on a ball before the ball got to him, the ball bounced off his shins and rolled up to his hands. Perfect mechanics! Ed manning hit a nice line drive down the third base line, Yee had a chance but missed it and by the time Thaxton corralled it, Manning was safe. Sterling hit a ball to the right side. Buizon, McCormick and Thaxton laid out for it but Sterling is too quick and beat it out for a bang bang run. Brandon Chesser, hit his pitcher and then hit another ball up the middle that Shawn Devenish made a nice stop on. The Renegade defense was slowly adjusting but Austin tacked 2 more runs on with two outs. After 4, Austin led 13-7 but the Renegade defense looked better and nobody on the team thought this game was over. It was not!
The 5th would be a big inning for the Renegades. Joe McCormick led off the inning with a line drive up the middle past diving Blackhawks to get the party started as Ron was able to find his bat deep in the count. Ron also took Larry Haile down the first base line with a full count and it was 13-9. Shawn Devenish broke the trend and lofted a pop fly to short right field that took a big bounce on the first pitch he saw to make it three straight scores. Joe Yee hit a hard low line drive up the middle but was stopped for the first out of the frame. Proctor was up next and would have an interesting trip. The first pitch he saw was bounced up the middle and he had a chance to score but no base went off. The second pitch was hit with a little less authority in a similar place and he was stopped on a bang bang play. The Boston bench thought there was a double call by the spotters. Umpire, Mike Woodard had no field umpire help and there was nobody to ask. The austin spotters claimed they called the same number which is legal. Christian Thaxton and Cochran would work the count to three strikes and Thaxton would hit a line drive up the middle for a run. Joe McCormick then laced a fly ball into center and the score was now 13-12. Austin called time out to regroup. Larry Haile would hit a bounding ball to the right side and race to first as the ball bounced away from the Designated fielder, Jamie Sibson and the L-train had tied it up. Shawn Devenish would hit a similar ball on the next play but the Austin defense could not find the handle and Boston had taken a 14-13 lead. Joe Yee was put out on a short ball to the right side on a very close play by Jamie Sibson to end the frame. A seven run inning for Boston with McCormick, Haile and Devenish each plating a pair. Seven run innings are not common but Boston believes they can do it for sure!
It was predicted to be one of the best day one games. It did not disappoint. Leading off for Austin was NBBA great, Mike Finn who promptly lofted a fly ball to the right side that Buizon could not find and McCormick over ran. The game was tied. Puryear who had trouble putting the ball in play (3 strikeouts in 4 previous trips to the plate) then hit a grounder that alluded Buizon. Devenish missed it and McCormick also missed. Three layers laid out and three layers came up empty, Austin was back on top 15-14. Greg Roberts then hit a pretty hard grounder to the left side. Proctor was able to adjust, hit the ground early and was able to pick up the ball with plenty of time to spare for the first out of the inning. Manning would whiff and Proctor would also stop Sterling on a weak hit ball down the line which he laid out nicely for. After 5 innings, Austin clung to a one run lead.
Down a run, Sanchez would be called upon to hit for Proctor. Normally, Proctor is not in the lineup for big games like this, but with Dias hurt, we were forced to have Justen hit. Down to the last three outs, offense was needed and Dias was now ready and able to contribute if called upon for defense. Confusion was about to take over.
As David Sanchez swung and fouled off the first pitch, umpire Mike Woodard called strike two on Sanchez because Boston has nobody on the on Deck circle. Thaxton was in the bathroom and was late to get back to the bench. This miscommunication cost the Renegades a strike and messed with Sanchez who took an awful swing for strike three. Sanchez would whiff. That confusion may have impacted Thaxton as well…but he was struggling timing wise all game with just one run in 4 trips and his two strike out performance in the first. Even the best hitters struggle. This would be no exception as he went down on 4 pitches and just like that the Gades were down to their last out. But must like the previous inning, Boston would catch some mojo with two outs. They scored 4 runs with two outs in the 5th. With 2 strikes, Mac hit a weak grounder to the left shorty, Sterling who was leading the Austin defense with 5 stops…but he misplayed it and McCormick’s speed was too much. Tie game. Larry Haile lofted the first pitch he saw up the middle and it bounced off the defenses hands for a Renegade 16-15 lead. Devenish then hit a hard grounder down the third baseline that actually rolled slightly foul when it went by the base and rolled past the 170 line for a 17-15 lead. Joe Yee hit a nice shot into left but Brandon Chesser made a nice play on him in left to end the rally. Could Boston hold Austin in the bottom of the inning?
Rob Dias entered the game to play defense. The winner of this game would leave the bracket as the 5 seed, the loser, the 6 seed. Before the inning got started, Thaxton received a warning for touching his blindfold, when he tried to adjust the face mask he wears due to the concussion he had in the 2018 season. The top of the order would be up. The top two hitters represented 6 of the 15 Blackhawk runs to this point. Drama continued as Chesser worked Hibner to a full count on 5 pitches. He would blast a shot into right field. McCormick gave chase, but had little chance as Weissman screamed stop just before McCormick would feel the turf change near a paved path. 17-16 with Mike Finn up. Finn and Hibner struggled and in 5 pitches, Finn whiffed for the first time all game. A huge out. Puryear was leading Austin in strikeouts on the day and if that trend would continue, Boston had a chance. With two strikes, Puryear tied it up on a grounder into right field which McCormick over ran. This brought Greg Roberts to the plate. As Roberts stepped into the box, Weissman gave Dias a heads up the last two times, he had hit the ball to Proctor. On queue, he hit a grounder on the first pitch to the right of Dias. Dias moved over, was late to the ground and as he dove pushed the ball away from him. Roberts raced down the first base line for an Austin walk off victory. Austin would win 18-17. Boston battled and if they could get Buizon and Dias into the lineup and adjust to the speed of the grass defensively..this team would contend.