Renegades Eliminate the Edge 15-10
Rain was in the forecast for this game that was supposed to start at 8:30am. Sadly, the league had no no rain contingency plan. Volunteers, umpires and teams prepared for that scheduled start time. It was a light drizzle during warm-ups but the forecast looked bad.
As the lineups were turned in and the pre game preparation was starting, the Edge did something that has never been done against the Renegades. In fact, they demanded something not even in the rule book. They wanted every Renegade with usable vision to wear a mindfold. This is a foam blindfold with a plastic visor. Other than Joey Buizon, most of the team had never worn one before in a game. The players were all wondering what was going on. Coach Weissman went to the Edge and asked if and why his team was being accused of cheating before the game had even started. This is the same Indy Edge team that had posted many things on Social media that the Renegades were the most over rated team in the league and were undeserving of a top seed. The same Edge team that trounced the Renegades and 12-runned them by a score of 23-8 in 2018. Here they were complaining before the game had even started.
As the umpire relayed to the league to bring more mindfolds to the field, Weissman talked with his team. Thaxton, McCormick, Haile, Buizon, Devenish would all be forced to wear the mindfold and the game would be delayed. As the teams waited for the mindfolds, the alarm sounded at the facility to get all the teams off the fields due to thunder storms. The players would get a chance to talk about the mindfolds and try them on during the 3 hour rain delay. It was not going to be an issue for the players. The team wanted to make a statement. They felt the Edge was playing head games and this added fuel to the fire for sure. The Renegades were working on mental toughness during the season. It was not going to be an issue. In fact, it would act as a catalyst.
Three hours later, the game started, pushing all the other games back to very late in the day. These two teams could not be any different in how they were made. The Renegades an 18-year-old program with every player and coach growing up in its system.. The Edge a team started in 2016 but its players and coaches had a roster of many people from other cities and so much experience playing for other teams. Many of the players had won World Series titles playing for teams from California, Kansas and the Thunder.
Danny Foppiano would lead off for the Edge, this former Long Island Bomber/Pa Wolfpack/West Coast Dawg/Kansas all-star was chasing another ring. After fouling off the first two pitches he hit a slow grounder through the wet grass to a laid out Christian Thaxton at third for the first out. Sophomore, Nick Mulherin, who won the offensive MVP in 2018, fouled off a pitch and then hit a high pop fly to the left side that Rob Dias picked up after a bounce in deep left, just after Mulherin scored. Marc Morris, (one of just three starters who played their whole career in Indy, but for three different teams) then hit a dribbler to the left side at the 40 foot arc. Morris, one of the fastest players in the league raced to first as Dias took an odd angle at the ball. Morris was ruled safe on another Rob Dias bang-bang play. Chris Dunleavy (entire career with the Edge) fouled off the first pitch and then missed on the second. This was the first swing and miss for the Edge. He hit a grounder to the left side. As Dunleavy raced to first, Dias missed it, Thaxton over ran it and McCormick picked it up but a split second late. The Edge led by three and all three runs scored on close plays. Richie Krussel (who has played for St. Luis, Lone Star and Colorado) then hit another dribbler to the 40 foot arc. Dias raced in, bobbled the wet ball and made the stop. Nick Silver (St. Luis, RHI, Chicago) then hit the second pitch up the middle. Shawn Devenish laid out and made a great stop to nail the speedy Silver. Even though the Gades allowed three runs, all were on close plays and the team had confidence.
Leading off for Boston, Christian Thaxton hit a lazy line drive to the left side which eluded two Edge defenders on the first pitch for a run. The second pitch of the inning was hit to almost the same spot and despite a late base, McCormick beat it out as Marc Morris had the ball bounce him for the second Renegade run. Larry Haile needed a moment and took the first pitch. He then hit a grounder up the middle where Morris stopped him. Cochran was matching Kyle Kennedy by getting the bat on the ball. That trend continued as Devenish also hit the first pitch he saw and blasted it into left center by everyone for a tie game! Rob Dias would have the first swing and miss of the inning but would then hit a grounder up the middle of the field which Danny Foppiano had roll just by his feet for a run and a Renegade lead. Buizon would foul off the first two pitches but go down on strikes. Thaxton would then bat for the second time in the inning. With three strikes, Thaxton bounced one up the middle of the field and it rolled off Foppiano for the second time in the inning. Normally Foppiano is lights out, but the Boston speed may have been too much. McCormick would go down on strikes to end the frame but Boston led the Edge 5-3 after one full frame. Both pitchers made a lot of contact but the Renegade defense was better in this frame despite the blindfolds they were forced to wear by their opponent.
Justen Proctor got the defense going to start off the second as he stopped a worm burner up the middle diving to his left while playing in a new defensive shift (devised the night before in the hotel) off the bat of lead-off hitter, Danny Foppiano. Former MVP, Mulherin whiffed for the 2nd out. Marc Morris then lifted a fly ball to the foul line down the third base side that Rob Dias picked up in time. The Renegades felt the ball was touched in fair territory before going foul but the umps did not see the same thing. That would have been a 1-2-3 inning…but as momentum goes, it shifted to the Edge in a controversial call. Morris then hit a high pop up that Dias charged in on and the ball bounced over him for a run. Next, Chris Dunleavy lofted a fly ball to the left side. Grillo’s call shifted the defense all toward the middle of the field but they had to reverse direction. It landed between Dias and Thaxton and they did not have time to pick it up and the Edge tied it up at five. Richie Krussel would strike out to end the inning.
Larry Haile led off the 2nd frame for Boston with a grounder that made it into the second level of the defense, but Haile ran slightly inside the base. When he went to the ground in an ugly knee first body flailing to the ground motion, he missed the base while trying to save his face from hitting the turf and the defense had enough time to make the out. Shawn Devenish stayed hot and roped a hard grounder by the left side to left field for an easy run. Next up, Rob Dias hit a bouncer to the right side and was stopped on a bang-bang play. Buizon would strike out for the second time in the game. After two, Boston clung to a 6-5 lead.
Danny Foppiano would lead off the third and hit a room service grounder to Justen Proctor who was playing up the middle on the front line. As Danny was running to the base, it cut out and malfunctioned. Even though Proctor stopped him 60 feet before the base cut out, the rules allowed him to go back to the plate. He eventually struck out in what some people would call “justice” as the late base had no impact on the play. This marked three straight whiffs for the steady Kyle Kennedy who was struggling a bit for the Edge at this point in the game. That struggle would end when Mulherin lofted a high fly ball that landed in front of Rob Dias playing on the left shorty position right when the speedy Mulherin reached third. Marc Morris then lofted a fly ball down the third base line that Thaxton ranged far to his right on and he scored. Weissman contested if the ball landed fair or foul as the rule says the ball needs to be fair at 100 feet and the Gades felt it may have been foul when it landed. All the calls were going against Boston and the Edge led 7-6. Justen Proctor playing on the right side of the defense would then range to the first base line off the bat of Chris Dunleavy to get the third out of the inning.
Leading off the bottom of the third, Christian Thaxton stepped up and the Edge over shifted their defense to protect the left side. With three strikes, Thaxton absolutely crushed it by all of them and easily scored to tie the game. After two foul balls, McCormick hit a weak grounder down the third base line. Before the at-bat, the Edge shifted a little to give up the line. The call was close and after the umpires conferred a call went Boston’s way. The score went back to a Renegade 8-7 lead. Larry Haile was stopped by Richie Krussel on the right side for the first out. Shawn Devenish would stay red-hot as he laced a shot into deep left for his third run of the game to put the Gades back on top 9-7. Rob Dias would strike out and then Buizon would go down after fouling off 6 straight pitches (4 hot grounders to the right side and 2 tips to the catcher). Buizon was still working on his timing as he had been limited offensively thru the week due to his injury two weeks prior.
Heading to the fourth inning, Kyle Kennedy was working on things. He was throwing a lot of extra pitches behind his teams bench as the Gades were hitting. Based on how the Edge whooped up on the Renegades in 2018, most of them were not happy to be down at this point of the game. Richie Krussel (who has played many tight games against Boston as a member of the Colorado Storm) led off the inning with a few shots down the left side which were foul and would eventually strike out. Nick Silver would then loft the second pitch he saw into deep left field. Silver slipped out of the box and hit a knee on the ground but got up quickly. McCormick was able to make the stop easily in deep left for the second out of the inning. He would have made the out even if Silver had not slipped. Silver did come up gimpy after that play but would stay in the game. Foppiano then lofted a ball into left but it got by Thaxton and died in front of Dias who was shifted to play deep. Foppiano, the lead off hitter was now 1-4. Mulherin, who is close to half of Foppiano’s age then almost repeated what he did prior when he lofted a high fly to the middle of the field that bounced over Justen’s head (Justen was playing the left side for this hitter) and Mulherin scored just as the ball landed. Marc Morris who had scored three straight times came to the plate and hit a lazy fly ball down the third base line. Rob Dias ranged to his right and slid on his knees to pick up the ball. A conference was needed and there was controversy as to when the ball was touched…in fair or foul territory. There was also a “stop” called on the play. The final call was foul. Eventually, Morris would strike out.
Boston had their 1-2-3 hitters to lead off the 4th as the Bayou City Heat walked over to watch the end of this game. The Heat would await the winner of this game as they eliminated the NJ Titans. Thaxton would lead off and hit a line drive up the middle. As he hit the ball, he took a step to the middle of the field as he did not hear the base. He called late base as he ran to third and was put out. After a conference the ump ruled it was not late. Replays from the live feed show it was a late base and it cost the Renegades a run. A terrible call that kept the game in a 9-9 tie and stopped one of the hottest bats in the league. McCormick then hit a weak grounder to the left side which Marc Morris gobbled up for the second out. Up stepped Larry Haile who was “ofer” the day and had a missed base earlier in the game. With three strikes, he hit a fly ball up the middle and ran to first. Larry was running with a little fear in his step of making sure to hit the base and it slowed him down a little. The Gades went down 1-2-3. The Edge were fired up as their defense put up a donut on the Gades. After four innings the score remained tied at nine.
The edge would have the bottom half of their lineup to start off the fifth. Collectively they were 2-9 with 2 strikeouts on the day with Dunleavy scoring both runs. Dunleavy would whiff to start things off for the Edge. Richie Krussel with two strikes lofted a fly ball up the middle of the field. Rob Dias ranged from the left side toward the middle and dove on his knees to pick up the ball for the second out of the inning. Could Nick Silver turn over the lineup? He hit a dribbler off the bottom of his bat that was room service for Rob Dias. The Gades defense got a 1-2-3 as well. The game stay tied at nine and the Renegades were fired up as their 4-5-6 hitters came up.
Boston’s 4-5-6 hitters were 4-9 with 4 whiffs on the day. As the weather started to warm up and the fields dry out, Weissman removed his lucky yellow pants. Shawn Devenish was on fire and would lead off the inning. He had scored on three lasers in this game. After two fouls, Shawn hit a deep fly down the third baseline as he gave the Gades a 10-9 lead diving into first base. Rob Dias hit a short grounder that Marc Morris slid bye and missed. This ball had Renegade eyes and Dias raced to third to score and give the Renegades an 11-9 lead. Weissman turned to the bench. Buizon had seen 15 pitches and fouled off 8 of them. He was still working on his timing and his leg health. That work would be put on pause. Joe Yee entered the game. He fouled the first pitch off down the right side, took the next pitch and then saw 5 more pitches. Yee had a time out for a screaming baby (you never know what constitutes a noise time out) before going down on strikes. His timing was off despite having great BP in the morning. That BP was more than 2 hours earlier. Thaxton had no timing issue. He laced the first pitch into left center for his 4th run of the game and a 12-9 lead. Joe McCormick, who was 2-4 on the day with his speed making the difference hit the third pitch he saw in the air down the left side of the field. Morris ranged backwards and tracked the ball which bounced off him for a Renegade run and a 13-9 lead. Haile who was 0-4 with a missed base, stepped to the plate looking to add some insurance. Weissman had talked to him about running more freely and listening to the base between innings. Haile lofted a ball to the Bermuda triangle in the middle of the field and scored. The play was contested by the Edge but the call stood. 14-9! Shawn Devenish came up for the second time in the inning with four blasts for runs on the day. Devenish had seen 7 pitches coming into this at bat and made contact on all of them. He missed the first one in this at bat then fouled off a ball and swung and missed again. On the 5th pitch, he lofted a short fly to the left side that froze Morris. He backed up at first fooled by the sound of the contact or the call and then struggled to recover the ball as he fumbled it when Devenish hit third base. Shawn Devenish picked an amazing time to have his first ever five run game. Boston led 15-9. that would be all the Gades would get as Dias struck out and Joe Yee was stopped by Morris on a weak grounder to the left side. The Gades needed three outs and if they could hold on they would play the Bayou City Heat next, a team they had never beaten in history.
Danny Foppiano would lead off for the Edge in the 6th. He has been on many teams and may have never lost to the Renegades in his potential hall of fame career. He would keep their dream alive with his best hit in the game, a fly ball into center field. 15-10. Two of the fastest players in the league would be up next in Mulherin and Morris. Neither had hit the ball as they wanted in this game but their speed was killing. Between the two of them they had scored 6 runs. As the rain began to fall, Mulherin would strike out for the second time in the game. Morris would follow suit with a strikeout as well. With one out to get for the Renegade win, the Edge would send up Tobey Gregory to hit for Dunleavy. Gregory who ate Christian Thaxton and Joe Yee for dinner in the 2016 World Series title game found his way into the batter’s box. If he were to score, Krussel and Silver would be due up next and they were 0-8 with 3 strike outs. Boston had only made it this far in a World series once in their long history. Gregory fouled off the first pitch to the right side. On his second offering, he hit a hard grounder to the left side. Bryan Grillo made a quick and perfect call. Rob Dias quickly dove to his right and stopped the ball in the box! The Gades won…the Gades won…the Gades won!
Shawn Devenish paced the offense with 5 runs. Thaxton had four runs, McCormick had three and Dias pitched in a pair. Defensively, Rob Dias paced the Defense with 4 stops but most impressively was five different Renegades had stops. Proctor had a pair while Devenish, McCormick and Thaxton each had one. Both teams struck out at slightly higher rates than they had wanted. Kyle Kennedy struck out 9 batters in 28 at bats while Cochran outpaced him with just 7 in 30 trips. It was a hard-fought game in wet conditions, a slick batters box and long delays due to rain.
All the Facebook chat about how over rated the Edge felt the Renegades were was put to sleep. The mind games and mindfolds that were forced on to the Renegades pulled the team together. In fact, with the cool weather, many of the guys forced to wear them actually liked them better and thanked the Edge for the free equipment. The Renegades would pack up and move to another field to take on the Bayou City Heat. Boston was one of the final four teams with Championship aspirations still alive. The San Antonio Jets and Indy Thunder would also be playing at the same time as the only two teams still alive with no losses. The Edge would be eliminated by a team they publicly said was not a top team in the league. The New Jersey Titans excitedly awaited them. The Titans were a team playing for their best finish ever (the Titans would eventually beat the Edge when the Edge decided to sit many of their starters in the last game). This would rank as one of the best wins in Renegade history and it vaulted them to a top 4 finish for just the second time ever!
Still more to come as the Renegades took on the Bayou City Heat next…….