Boston Eliminates the Austin Blackhawks 17-5
Two teams with a long history would face off with one loss each in this double elimination tournament. The last time they faced off was in the 2019 series with Austin walking off on Boston in pool play. Boston would have Ron Cochran and Peter Connolly on the mound in this game and longtime vets, Bryan Grillo and Jason Lenicheck spotting. The loser of this game would finish no higher than 9th at this series. For Austin, they would be pitching, Molly Flemming in her first full year as a pitcher. This would be a big test for her.
With the city of Norman halting all games the day prior due to the extreme heat index, it was possible the paths of these two teams could impact the result. Could sleep and rest impact this game? The Renegades were forced to the field for a 6:30am restart to their game with the Edge and then had to wait for this game. Austin got to sleep in and they played an 8:30 start. This favored the Austin team as the Renegades left the hotel at 5:45am on just a few hours of sleep. There would also be a two hour and 15 minute time limit imposed on all matches on Thursday.
Darius Sterling, the speedster would be the lead-off hitter for Austin. With the departure of former all-star Brandon Chesser, Sterling moved up to lead-off due to his success off Molly Flemming. He got the party started with a line drive up the middle. Devenish was a little shallow, and was late to the ground. McCormick slid over to his left, hit the ground and stopped it but Sterling was already at the base as Austin drew first blood. Next up was Daniel Brock, the 2022 Rookie of the year. His first appearance against the Renegades resulted in a whiff. Mariano Reynoso was moved up in the order to hit third and hit a weak bouncer up the middle. Devenish got down to his left and the ball bounced over his legs as he was slow to the ground and created a ramp for the ball to shoot over his body. Shayne Cantan was there to back it up but he was slow to the ball and Austin led 2-0. Mike Finn and Drew Burnett next whiffed on 8 swings and misses, Molly struck out the side in her first inning against Boston.
Boston would lead off Christian Thaxton in this game, Austin had not seen him since 2018 but they knew his ability. Thaxton, still working on his timing with Cochran would swing and miss on the first two pitches of the at bat. Thaxton then launched a high fly ball to the right side and take off to first base. Drew Burnett had to wait for the ball to land and then find it as it spun to the right side and Thaxton was safe with ease. Devenish was next and hit the first pitch off the bottom of his bat to the left side right to Sterling as Darius made a nice play up against his chest. This brought up David Sanchez to pinch hit for Joe McCormick who started the game in left field. This also brought Peter Connolly to the bump for his first time of the game. Sanchez would strike out. Shayne Cantan was next with Peter staying on the mound. With three strikes, Shayne hit a lazy fly ball down the third base line that went over Sterling and past a diving Ed Manning. Cantan scored to tie the game. Big Drew Crook was next, in his first at bat vs Austin. He crushed a grounder on the second pitch down the third base line past everyone and the 170 line. Crook scored easily as Mike Finn ran after the ball with his back toward home plate. From the big man, Crook to the little man, Guy Zuccarello. Guy hit the first pitch up the middle. Drew Burnett lined it up, moved up on the ball and made the stop. Boston led 3-2 after one inning.
Chris Kimble would enter the game for Boston as David Sanchez would exit the game. Ed Manning led off out of the six spot for Austin. He hit the second pitch down the third base line. Drew Crook shuffled over to the line, dove head first and the ball hit his chest, rolled a little ways away from him but Drew pawed it like a cat pawing a mouse and collected his first stop of the game. Sterling was next and swung and missed four times for the second out. Daniel Brock swung and missed three times , fouled off a ball behind home plate and then hit a hard grounder to the right side. Shayne Cantan was slow to get over and even slower to get to the ground as it went under his hands for the tying run. Reynoso then hit the third pitch on the fly to the right side. Cantan slid to his left and was slow to the ground but when he hit the ground the ball hit his out stretched hand. However, Shayne was slow to get it off the ground and Reynoso gave Austin a 4-3 lead. Mike Finn was next and with three strikes hit a pop up with back spin to the left side. The ball hit the ground and died with the spin. Rob Dias came in and grabbed it about two steps before Finn hit third base. Austin led 4-3 after one and a half innings.
Thaxton would lead off the second. On the third pitch, he grounded weakly down the third base line. The big swing must have frozen the Austin defense as Sterling hit the ground and it never got to him as Thaxton hit third long before Sterling picked it up. Devenish was next and on the third pitch hit a line drive up the middle deep. Mike Finn shuffled to his left toward the center of the field and he may have over run it as when he went to the ground feet first, the ball went under his arm pits and Devenish gave the Renegades the 5-4 lead. Weissman then pinch hit for Kimball with Joe Yee who would have his cousin, Peter Connolly throwing to him. Yee hit the first pitch in the air down the right field line. Austin had Ashley Malero on an island and the ball was hit over her head for an easy run. Shayne Cantan then hit the third pitch to the left side. This ball had eyes as it went under Sterling’s legs, Manning over ran it and when he dove , it went under his arms but Finn was in the third layer and got Cantan by a few steps for the first out. Crook was next and on the second pitch hit a fly ball to right center past Reynoso and Crook scored with ease. Zuccarello was next and on the second pitch hit a line drive up the middle past Sterling, past Burnett and as the ball got to Finn, Guy hit third base before the ball got to Finn and Boston led 8-4. Thaxton in his second at bat of the inning hit a hard bouncer up the left side and Finn made a nice play for the out in left field. Devenish would go down on strikes after getting six pitches and represent the second Renegade whiff, and the first from Cochran.
Down 8-4 heading into the top of the third, the game was near the one hour mark in this time limit game. Austin needed a rally. Drew Burnett, Ed Manning and Darius Sterling would all go down on strikes. Austin had seven strike outs and Boston had just two stops on defense in this match.
Starting off the bottom of the third, the renegades were looking to jump on the Austin Blackhawks. David Sanchez would reenter the game replacing Joe McCormick. He hit the first pitch on the ground up the middle. Austin thew three bodies at the ball and the last one, Mike Finn came up with the stop. Connolly would stay on the mound to face Shayne Cantan. Shayne would hit a lazy pop fly to the left side but it had enough air and the ground was hard enough that it bounced in the air and Sterling could not find it as Cantan was safe. Drew Crook was next and on the first pitch hit a hard third base line hugger. Ed Manning dove head first and made the stop for out number two. Zuccarello was next and on the third pitch hit a grounder up the middle. Sterling dove to his right and missed and Drew Burnett crept up to make the play. After three, Boston led 9-4. Keep in mind there was less than an hour before the game would called as the game had a two hour and 15 minute time limit.
Daniel Brock would lead off for Austin as they had some hope of a momentum shift. That would not happen as he would strike out and that would make four whiffs in a row. Mariano Reynoso was next. He stepped in representing 50% of their offensive production. He blasted a line drive down the first base line where no Boston defender was. Reynoso scored. Mike Finn was next and hit a bouncer to the left side. Drew Crook dropped to his left and stopped the ball for his second stop in the game. Drew Burnett would whiff to end the fourth and Austin was down 9-5.
With time ticking down, Boston was looking for a big inning. Who better to lead off than Christian Thaxton. On a 1-2 count, he ripped a grounder to the left side that Darius Sterling laid out for and hit Sterling in the hands…but sadly for Sterling that didn’t slow it down and it rolled past Finn and over the 170 line. Sterling was hurt on the play and time would be called to look at him. He would gut it out and stay in the game. Shawn Devenish would then step up and test Sterling right away hitting a weak grounder down the third base line. Sterling scrambled to the line and would make the play with his hands in foul territory as he beat Shawn to the base. Luis Rodriguez came off the bench and would strike out. Next was Shayne Cantan and he would have an epic at bat. He fouled off 4 pitches and on the 7th pitch hit a weak pop up to the right side. A foot race between Cantan and Ashley Malero would result in a run in a five minute at bat. Drew Crook was next and hit a laser, foul down the third base line that took more than a minute for the volunteers to chase down as it rolled over 250 feet. Crook then hit a little piggy to center field that went over the 170 line and Finn gave up as Crook scored with ease on a bomb. The ball needed to be replaced after that hit. Zuccarello then went oppo on a hard grounder past Malero and before Reynoso finally fell on the ball, Zuccarello made it three straight runs. Thaxton was next and fouled off 4 straight pitches, took a pitch, fouled off another and then hit a hard grounder down the third base line as three Austin defenders hit the ground and missed it for his second run of the inning. Devenish would also go into a deep count and with three strikes hit a fly ball into left field that bounced over a diving Mike Finn. Sanchez then hit two foul balls and with three strikes hit a line drive up the middle that Burnett dove and missed. Finn came over and struggled to find the ball, but Sanchez missed the base. Finn struggled too long and the Sanchize had scored. This at bat by Sanchez was Peter Connolly’s 390th batter faced and would move him past Jamie Dickerson for 4th all time in team history in batters faced. Shayne Cantan then laced a hard grounder down the third base line and scored putting this game into the 12 run rule. Elana Regan then stepped in to pinch hit for Crook. Austin then huddled and called a time out as both teams were struggling with the time left in the game. It didn’t make sense to either team that the league was asking to complete a game that was over. Austin brought in Sarai Hernandez, Pam Chesser, Jamie Sibson, Davion Perez and Bobby Lakey. Regan hit the second pitch to the left side and Sarai Hernandez ended the game with a stop. That eight run inning ended this game as Boston defeated a team that was seeded three slots ahead of them. This gave the Renegades a date with the Houston Hurricanes at 8:30 at night under the lights.
The players of this game were Christian Thaxton and Shayne Cantan who each had 4 runs. Drew Crook also pitched in three runs and led the Renegade defense with two stops in this game. For Austin, Mariano Reynoso plated three of their five runs and Drew Burnett made three stops on defense. The Renegade offense had scored 17 + runs in a game for the 27th time in team history. The 10.3% K rate was the 13th best in team history and this was the 19th time Boston had beat an opponent by 12 + runs in a game.
Renegades put the lights out on Houston Hurricanes 17-4
The first night game of the NBBA World Series since the Renegades took on the Jets in the 2019 series in Tulsa. This game was rescheduled due to the heat index being at 10 and the city halting activities. It was a cool 93 degrees at game time at 8:35 Central time. For Boston, Ron Cochran and Peter Connolly would be on the mound and Bryan Grillo and Jason Lenicheck would be calling the defense. The winner of this game would stay alive and the loser would be sent to the 7/8 game. Houston looked rough on Tuesday, but they mentioned to Weissman during a coaches meeting that their Tuesday morning matchup was the first time they had played together all year and they were rusty. They had a huge upset win over the Bayou City Heat, a team in which most of these players played on before breaking off in 2022. This game would have a two hour and 15 minute time limit and needed to end by 11:00 at night.
Weissman warned the team to get its rest during the afternoon because this was going to be a different game. He was right. The lineup had two different starters. One of them was legend, John Parker, the man Christian Thaxton replaced as the all-time leader in batting average in 2018!
Speaking of Christian Thaxton, he would lead off this contest with a laser that went foul. After another foul ball, Thaxton lofted a fly ball to left field. Weissman and Cochran started calling for a home run call and the umpires confirmed it and Thaxton had his 2nd home run of the week and third of his career. Unofficially, this may have been the first ever NBBA leadoff home run in a game. That woke the team on a day in which many of the players were up at 5:00 am. That Home Run gave Boston a two run lead. Shawn Devenish was next and on the 5th pitch hit a fly ball to left field. Doug Biggins was on it as it bounced and rolled into his chest. Shawn hit third base just before Biggins got the ball off the ground. The play was contested but the call would stand as a run for Boston. David Sanchez was next and Connolly strode to the bump to face him. Sanchez hit a shot that was questionably called fair and would score, but the play was contested and the umpire made the right call as the ball rolled just foul. Sanchez then hit a hard line drive down the third base line that got by every layer and hit the fence for an automatic run and Boston led 4-0. Shayne Cantan, Drew Crook and Guy Zuccarello would end the inning with a whimper as they would strike out collectively with just four foul balls between them. Crook was too amped up in his at bat as he was trying to match Thaxton’s bomb, and failed.
As Boston took the field, Joe McCormick replaced Sanchez in the outfield. Houston led off John Parker with Kyle Burris on the mound. He lofted a fly ball to center where Shawn Devenish laid out and made the stop. Jason Walters was next with his pitching wedge in hand. On a full count plus a foul ball, Walters lined a shot to left field. McCormick lined it up but it bounced off his chest and away from him as Walters put Houston on the board Roy Hutchins was next. He joined the team just weeks before as the BCS Outlaws were unable to attend due to two deaths in their extended family. He struck out. John Gonzalez then take the mound to face John Marques, and he would strike out. After one frame, Boston led 4-1.
Christian Thaxton would lead off for the Renegades in the second inning. He crushed a first pitch laser to left field that one hopped the fence in “Kevin Millar territory”, but he was early and it was foul. On the fourth pitch, Thaxton hit a line drive that hit third base and knocked it down. His at bat would end in a strike out and a comment from his catcher saying, even though you whiffed, you are still 2-2 in this game (due to the first inning home run). Devenish was next and on the second pitch, hit a line drive down the third base line that bounced off the deep man, Doug Biggin’s feet and Devenish scored. This brought pinch hitter, Chris Kimball to the plate to replace McCormick. Kimball hit a grounder to the left side. Jason Walters would hit the ground and dive to his right and stopped the ball in his hands. Shayne Cantan then stepped into the box with Connolly coming back to the mound. He hit a line drive into left field. Biggins bobbled it and picked it up. Initially, the play was called safe, but the play was over turned and the inning was over. After one and a half, Boston led 5-1.
Houston would lead off with Josh Perry and John Gonzalez pitching to start the second. Luis Rodriguez replaced Kimball and headed to left field on defense. On the third pitch, Perry hit a grounder that Zuccarello stopped with ease but the play was called dead due to a late base. With three strikes, Perry hit a line drive into left field, Crook over ran it and Luis Rodriguez shuffled to his right, laid out and made the play. The play was contested and the call stood as Rodriguez made a huge out deep in the defense. Doug Biggins was next as Kyle Burris came back to the mound. On the first pitch, he hit a line drive up the gut of the defense, Devenish dropped and stopped the ball for the second out. This brought Parker back to the dish and with a full count he hit a fly ball to left field. Luis Rodriguez lined it up and made the stop deep in the defense as he then got mobbed by Devenish, Crook and Grillo in a celebratory moment. This was his first double put out inning of the season. The Boston squad took three good hits away with solid defense!
Drew Crook would lead off the third and get the same result as he did in the first with a strike out though he had a grounder hit the fence in foul territory on the first pitch. Zuccarello would be next and also have a similar result, resulting in a four pitch whiff. Thaxton strode back to the plate for the third time in the contest. He hit the second pitch in the air up the middle. Roy Hutchins was under it and the ball short hoped him and he caught it. It may have been a double play, but there were two outs and it only counted as one. Another great defensive play in this game. Boston put up a bagel in the inning and heading to the bottom of the third, led 5-1.
Jason Walters would lead off for Houston, representing the sole run they had in the game. Kyle Burris was back on the bump for Houston. Walters hit a line drive up the middle. Devenish lined it up, stopped it with his face, but it rolled off him, he was able to scramble to stop it for the first out of the frame and the 4th consecutive nice defensive play. Burris had words for the ump as he felt Devenish was saying “up” before he had the ball. Devenish explained he was saying “Owe” as he got the ball off his face. Roy Hutchins was next and hit a grounder to the left side. Rob Dias ran in and slid but it rolled past him. He bounced back up, ran backwards after it but the speed of Hutchins was too much and the run scored. Marquez would whiff for the second time and the second out. Perry was next and hit a weak grounder to the left side. Rob Dias came in on it, hit the ground and slithered forward to make the stop. Boston led 5-2 after three innings.
Shawn Devenish would be the leadoff hitter in the 4th, a rare moment when Thaxton makes the last out of the inning. Shawn would get the count to three strikes and hit a weak grounder up the middle. Both Houston shorties flew in on the ball. Walters was the first one there, but Perry was more aggressive and called it off, he missed it on his first time to pick it up and Devenish scooted down and hit third base to beat out the play and scored his third run of the game. David Sanchez Re-entered the game with Connolly back on the mound. He struck out on five pitches. Cantan was next but could not connect and was down on four straight pitches. Weissman had Yee and Crook both ready to go and decided to stick with Crook. With three strikes, Crook crushed a line drive past all three layers of the defense which was an automatic run as it crashed into the fence. This brought up Zuccarello who for the third straight time would go down swinging on four pitches as Cochran and Weissman were concerned that Zuccarello may be gassed due to the heat and long day. Boston would hold a 7-2 lead after three and a half innings.
Heading into the 4th, Joe McCormick would head back into the field replacing David Sanchez. Doug Biggins would lead off the inning for Houston. Biggins hit the second pitch up the gut. Devenish slid to his right and made his fourth stop of the game to lead both teams on defense! This brought up a pinch hitter for John Parker, the lead-off hitter. Enter Tim Syphers who hit a ball up the middle. Zuccarello dove at the ball and it hit his hands and changed direction toward the middle of the field. Guy called for help and Devenish was there to assist. He bobbled the ball but Syphers missed the base and Devenish had his 5th out of the game. The play was contested as Syphers complained he hit the base, but he was caught coming back to tag the base and the call stood. Jason Walters was next and on the first pitch, hit a fly ball to the left side. Dias backed up and hit the ground as it went under his arms. Crook stood there like a statue, “making no effort to get to the ground” (as Hunter Weissman called it) and Joe McCormick made a brave decision to reach between Drew’s legs and pick up the ball for the final out of the inning. McCormick sure put his life on the line if Crook decided to hit the ground! Boston maintained their 5 run lead 7-2.
Thaxton led off the 5th and on the second pitch one hopped the fence again, but it was foul. The next pitch was a grounder that actually hit third base. He would go down on strikes for his second whiff of the game and the 10th for Boston. This extremely long day influenced the whiffs as many of the players were masking their exhaustion with adrenaline. Shawn Devenish was next and hit the first pitch weakly to the right side. Josh Perry made the play on his knees to stop Devenish with ease for the first time in this game. Weissman then went back to the bench bringing Chris Kimball to hit for McCormick. Kimball hit the second pitch in the air weakly up the middle. Neither shorty charged it as they may have been frozen on the call. Kimball whistled down the first base line for a big run with two outs. Connolly came back to the mound for Cantan. Cantan hit the first pitch deep to left field in the air. The ball bounced over a diving Doug Biggins in the third layer of the defense for the second run of the inning. Drew Crook then hit the a second pitch grounder to the left side. Walters hit the ground as the ball hit his feet and changed direction bouncing far past his head. Walters needed to get off the ground, chase it and pick it up. He ran out of time as Crook scored the third straight run with two outs. Zuccarello was next and hit a line drive up the middle, the Houston defender, Marquez dove and missed it and Zuccarello was on the board. Thaxton was next and after fouling back two straight pitches to Weissman, hit a high fly ball that went higher than deep. Walters was frozen on the play and by the time he charged it and the ball landed, Thaxton was near the base and had his third run of the game. Devenish put a charge into the first pitch he saw and lifted it into deep left field as the ball bounced by Doug Biggins and Devenish had his fourth run. This was six straight runs with two outs as Houston could not get off the field. Chris Kimball, came back to the plate and hit a line drive to the right side and scored with ease sliding into third base. Kimball started this inning off and really picked up the team in a big spot with his second run of the frame. Cantan and Connolly came back to the plate. Cantan fouled off three straight pitches and hit a fly ball off the top of the bat to the left side. Walters was there but the ball dropped in front of him. Cantan got down the third base line and just beat the play out for the 8th straight run with two outs. Weissman went to the bench up 15-2 as Joe Yee came off the bench. Yee hit a hard grounder to the left that got by two defenders. Doug Biggins made the stop in left field. Boston led 15-2 on the back of Chris Kimball coming off the bench providing much needed energy!
Boston left Joe Yee in the game to play third base. Luis Rodriguez came back into the defense to play left field. Houston needed to avoid the 12 run game, but they were also up against a clock that was ticking down as the game neared 2 hours in length. Roy Hutchins was the first hitter up and he hit the first pitch to Rob Dias, the ball went off his foot and Dias scrambled to look for it. Hutchins was burning down the first base line and Dias could not pick it clean in time and Houston was now one run away from getting out of the 12 run rule. John Marquez would strike out for the first out. Josh Perry was next and hit a line drive down the first base line. Zuccarello dove and missed. Cantan slid over, picked it up just in foul territory around 110 feet. The call by the umpire was “safe”. Boston challenged the play and the call was reversed awarding Cantan his first stop of the game. Doug Biggins was next, looking to avoid Devenish who had stopped him twice. He was also looking to avoid the 12 run rule. Biggins hit a chopper to the left. Dais slid to his left but missed it. Yee came a distance, slid and made a play on it but Biggins was safe. Controversy began as the ball was dead. Weissman, Kyle Burris and John Parker converged with the umpire to discuss the rule. Weissman and Burris were unsure of the rule while Parker was confident it was a run. As time ticked down, the head umpire’s presence was requested. Ultimately, the defender had clear intent to make a play on the ball, and the call would result in a run. This brought Tim Syphers up to the dish. With three strikes he hit a grounder to the right side. Guy Zuccarello dropped and made the play to end the inning. Houston avoided the 12 run rule as time ticked down under ten minutes with Boston holding a 15-4 advantage.
All Boston wanted to do at this point was end the game and made pleas to just call it as the lights were supposed to go out at 11:00 and Both teams had a 7:30 am game the next day. We were not supposed to start an inning after 10:50, but that was just in four minutes. The game continued and Guy Zuccarello would lead off the frame. PJ Navarro entered the game to replace Blake Boudreaux as the Defensive Fielder. Zuccarello hit a fly ball to the left side, Walters hit the ground, and it bounced off his body and Guy scored running to third base for his second run of the game after his silver Enchilada, three whiff game. Elana Regan came off the bench to hit for Thaxton. She hit a grounder down the third base line. Walters had to go a long way and angle back. He fielded the ball near the third base line right before Regan reached first base for the first out. Shawn Devenish was next and hit a dribbler just over the forty foot line. Walters rushed in as Devenish scrambled to first. Shawn won the foot race and scored his 5th run of the game; this marked the 6th time on his career he had a five run game! Luis Rodriguez would stay in the game and hit. The result was a strike out. Cantan would also strike out and Boston had whiffed 12 times in this match. This at bat by Cantan would be a milestone for Peter Connolly as it was his 400th batter faced as a pitcher in his career (4th All-time) Boston last struck out 13 times in a game in 2013 in a win vs New Jersey.
Boston would be forced to take the field as the teams were told the lights would go off at 11:00 and many of the lights on other fields were starting to go out. Houston was down 17-4. Jason Walters would lead off the last of the 6th and hit a grounder to the right side. Zuccarello dove out of the way of the ball but helped direct Cantan to the ball as Shayne crawled forward slowly to make the stop for his second stop of the game. Hutchins whiffed and Marquez then followed suit with a K of his own as Boston would move on to be one of the final six teams alive and Houston was eliminated and sent to the 7/8 game.
Boston would secure its 8th top 6 seed in a row with this win dating back to 2014. This would be a 13-run win and represented just the 10th time in team history the Renegades would win by 13+ Runs. The last time they accomplished this feat (Prior to the Sirens game this season) was against these same Hurricanes in the 2022 World Series. Hunter Weissman called this the “Shawn Devenish game”. An exhausted Devenish, paced the offense with five runs and the defense with 5 stops. It was a long day for Boston and despite the high strike out rates, Boston barreled a bunch of hits. Thaxton’s Lead-off Home Run, just the third in team history was the best example of Boston Barreling up the pitches. For Houston the star of the game for them was Roy Hutchins with two runs and a stop on defense.