By Adam Harnish MONTEZUMA - RCBL fans need to get familiar with this name: Jose Rocha.
All he did Wednesday night was blast two home runs, tally three RBIs and stretch his on-base streak to ten straight games to lead Elkton to a 9-4 victory over the Montezuma Braves.
So, we had to know - which home run did he like better?
“The first one,” Rocha said with a laugh after the game. “That one was to center field...so yeah, the first one.”
The game started off back-and-forth, as the Blue Sox opened with two runs in the top of the first, courtesy of the aforementioned Rocha. But, the Braves responded with three runs in the bottom of the frame, highlighted by a 2 RBI single from Brandon Lambert.
So, in response, the Blue Sox tied it up in the next frame, 3-3. After a scoreless inning from the Braves, a JJ Loker solo shot gave Elkton the lead, which they never gave up for the rest of the game.
Holding down the fort for the Blue Sox on the mound was Matt Plotner, who threw eight innings, allowing only four runs with four strikeouts.
“It was amazing,” Rocha said of Plotner’s performance. “Like I said, we have his back, so he just filled up the strike zone today, and it was amazing for him to pitch today.”
Plotner, for his part, was quick to put the spotlight on his teammates after the game. “I’m just grateful I have such a great team to play for, because these guys are my family.”
Plotner was able to avoid major damage in the seventh and eighth inning, when the Braves had multiple runners on with less than two outs. Then, Jacob Rich came in as the closer to shut the door in a crucial victory for the Blue Sox, who now move to a 6-12 record.
For the Braves, they had multiple innings where they threatened to even up the game, but were unable to convert with runners in scoring position. It was a disappointing result for the team, who now fall to 7-13 on the year.
OTHER STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: Lee Carneal, Josh Good and Mack Rexrode all had multi-hit games for the Blue Sox...Two Braves hitters, Luke Paczewski and Alex Markapoulos, both got hits on Wednesday night, keeping their averages above .400 for the year...Josh Tayman threw three innings of relief for Montezuma, allowing only one run on two hits.
The RCBL end-of-season awards have been finalized for the 2018 season. Coaches around the league voted for the MVP, Pitcher of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Coach of the Year based on performance during the summer.
Putting together a phenomenal two-way season, Bridgewater shortstop/pitcher Tyler Bocock has been named the 2018 MVP. Bocock led or was near the top in almost every offensive category this season, batting .423 with six home runs. His 36 RBIs were the most in the league.
In addition, he earned four wins on the mound while finishing the season with a 2.00 ERA, fourth in the league. Bocock’s performance helped lead the Reds to a 21-7 regular season and a second-place finish in the West Division.
In his first year in the league, Elkton’s Kris Lalk has been named Pitcher of the Year. The Colorado native led the RCBL in strikeouts with 87, tying the Pointstreak-Era record set by Nolan Shaffer in 2013.
Lalk’s highlight of the season came when he struck out 16 New Market batters on the way to earning a 6-1 victory on July 8. He pitched six games this season in which he struck out 10 or more batters. Lalk finished the season with an ERA of 2.39, good for seventh in the league.
Lalk wasn’t the only first-year player to have a good season. Dan Fry of the Broadway Bruins has been named Rookie of the Year for 2018. Fry batted .316 for Broadway this year while hitting four home runs and driving in 26 runs.
A product of Allegany College of Maryland, Fry stole eight bases this season, third in the league. One of Fry’s many highlights was a 3-for-5 performance in Broadway’s 15-13 comeback win over Bridgewater on July 2. Fry hit the game-winning double for the Bruins before making a spectacular catch in centerfield to end the game.
Earning his second-straight honor, Clover Hill’s Chris Cofer has been named Coach of the Year. Cofer guided the Bucks back to the pennant and a 23-5 overall record. Over the past two years, Cofer has helped the Bucks improve from their 2016 season.
This year, the Bucks had one of the deepest pitching staffs in the RCBL. Clover Hill led the league with a 3.46 ERA and was second behind Broadway with 250 strikeouts on the season. Nick Corbin, Corey Armentrout and Eric Yankey all finished the season with four wins for the Bucks.
NEW MARKET - After their quarterfinal series saw five rain delays and one game moved at the request of their opponent, the New Market Shockers finally moved on to the next round with an 8-2 win over Elkton on Monday night.
The two teams finished up the suspended game two, which had been rained out in the bottom of the first inning on Sunday night. The Shockers put together eight runs on 11 hits to put an end to the series that started a week ago.
“Well you know since we started last Tuesday, I’m just glad to complete a game on time,” New Market head coach Chris Rush said. “It’s good, we’re ready to move on to the second round.”
Monday’s game started with two outs in the bottom of the first inning and a man on first base for the Shockers. Nick Goode came around to score on an RBI single by Pat Wingfield for the first run of the game.
Elkton answered in the top of the third when Trent Miller scored on an error to tie the game up at one run apiece.
The teams took turns scoring in the sixth and seventh innings to keep the score tied at 2-2, but New Market broke the game open in the bottom of the seventh. Joseph Rutherford, Nate Jaye, Nick Goode and Pat Wingfield all came across the plate to give New Market a 6-2 lead late in the game.
Two more runs off an RBI single from Goode in the eighth would put the game away for the Shockers. Reliever Brett Ritter faced just four batters in the ninth to close out the game and move on to the next round of the playoffs.
Elkton’s Kris Lalk pitched seven innings and struck out 12 batters, but got the loss as the Shockers put up six runs on him. Only two of the runs that Lalk gave up were earned.
“Long series with Elkton, but pretty good series, this game especially,” Rush said. “Lalk did a heck of a job out there. Benner did a pretty good job for us. We were able to capitalize on Lalk a little bit towards the end. He had a lot of pitches and I think we started being a little more patient and looking for our pitches to hit.”
For New Market, Colin Benner pitched eight innings and gave up just two runs on four hits. Benner struck out 12 batters in the game as well.
First baseman Nolan Potts finished the game 3-for-4 from the plate with one RBI. Goode and Wingfield each had multi-hit games as well.
Despite the Shockers’ record in the regular season, Coach Rush knew his team was capable of playing well in the playoffs and he hopes to keep the momentum going as they face Bridgewater in the semifinals. “We’ve got a good group of guys. This year we were in games when we should have won and we gave some of those away,” Rush said. “I’ve said before and I say again our record doesn’t really reflect who we are and I’m hoping in the postseason we can show that. I think we’re starting to show that and we just want to keep moving on with it.”
NEW MARKET - The RCBL quarterfinals came one step closer to being completed on Sunday night, but were ultimately held up once again due to rain.
The New Market Shockers were finally able to complete game one of their series against the Elkton Blue Sox, winning the contest 12-2. The game was originally started on Tuesday July 31 before being suspended in the top of the eighth inning after a rainstorm.
The teams resumed that game on Sunday afternoon at Rebel Park with a man on first and no outs for the Shockers, who were up 7-2.
Nolan Potts, Zach Stiles, Ty Michaud and Ty Bennett all hit RBI singles in the inning to give the Shockers to extend their lead to 11-2.
Joseph Rutherford hit an RBI single in the top of the ninth to score Nick Goode for the Shockers’ final run of the game.
Seth Comer got the win on the mound for New Market, pitching six innings and allowing just one run on four hits. Bennett finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Michaud also had four hits on the night, scoring one run and driving in two.
The teams planned to play the second game of the series on Sunday as well, but that’s when the weather stepped in yet again. Rain started to fall in the middle of the first inning and became heavy enough by the bottom of the inning that the game had to be suspended.
New Market was batting in the bottom of the first with two outs and a man on first base when the game was suspended.
The series will be resumed tonight at 7:30 at Rebel Park. New Market and Elkton are the only teams still playing in the quarterfinals; every other series was finished by last Wednesday. Grottoes, Clover Hill and Bridgewater are currently waiting for this series to wrap up so they can know their opponents in the semifinals and start the next round of playoffs.
The RCBL has announced nominees for its four annual awards. Over the next week, coaches will vote for the MVP, Pitcher of the Year, Coach of the year and Rookie of the Year for the 2018 season.
Clover Hill leads the way with five overall nominations, including three for Pitcher of the Year. Bridgewater and Broadway each have two nominees, while Stuarts Draft, New Market and Elkton have one nominee each.
Brian Bocock and Tyler Bocock of Bridgewater are both nominated for MVP. Brian finished the season batting .407 with five home runs and 29 RBIs. Tyler hit .423 on the year with six home runs and led the league with 36 RBIs. The cousins were the Players of the Week for the final two weeks of the regular season.
New Market’s Nick Goode is the third nominee for MVP. Goode led the league in batting average this season, hitting .465 in 21 games. Goode also led the league in on base percentage (.543) and slugging percentage (.767). The Shockers’ outfielder had 10 doubles and two triples on the season along with four home runs.
Corey Armentrout, Kevin Chandler and Eric Yankey of Clover Hill are all nominated for Pitcher of the Year. Chandler led the league with a 1.63 ERA over 38.2 innings while Armentrout was tied for the lead in wins with a record of 4-0.
Yankey was one of the most dominant relief pitchers this season, picking up two saves for the Bucks while also earning four wins. Yankey’s 0.42 ERA and 29 strikeouts over 21.1 innings earned him a nomination for Pitcher of the Year.
Joining the Bucks’ trio is Elkton newcomer Kris Lalk. Lalk finished the season with a record of 1-4 and one save, but was one of the most unhittable pitchers in the league. His 87 strikeouts tied the Pointstreak-era record set by Nolan Shaffer in 2013. Lalk’s ERA of 2.39 was in the top 10 in the league.
Chris Cofer of Clover Hill and Justin Getz of Broadway are the nominees for Coach of the Year. Cofer guided the Bucks to their second-straight pennant and improved over last season by finishing the year with a record of 23-5.
Getz put together a team of young talent in Broadway that finished the season 18-10. The Bruins vastly improved from last season and nearly matched their total of 21 wins from 2014-2017, as pointed out by the RCBL’s Nick Stevens.
One of those young players from the Bruins is Dan Fry, who is nominated for Rookie of the Year. Fry finished the season batting .316 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Joining him on the list is Stuarts Draft’s Will Hass, who batted .341 with four home runs and 19 RBIs. Hass had a breakout three home run game against Montezuma earlier in the season.
Rounding out the nominees for Rookie of the Year is Matt Larson of Clover Hill. Playing 23 games at catcher for the Bucks, Larson batted .329 on the year with 17 RBIs. The rookie backstop also stole six bases for Clover Hill.
The nominees have been sent to the coaches for voting and winners will be announced sometime in the coming weeks.
The members of the All-RCBL team have been announced for the 2018 season. Members of the media met earlier this week to vote on the team, which was revealed on Saturday morning’s episode of the Play Ball show on ESPN 106.9 and 1360 WHBG.
Bridgewater and Clover Hill lead the way with four players from each team being honored. Bridgewater has four position players on the team while Clover Hill has three pitchers and one position player.
This year’s team features four players who were honored last season as well: Tyler Bocock, Drew Easter, Ryan Cooper and Corey Armentrout.
A number of statistical leaders were named to this year’s All-RCBL team. Home run leader Keegan Woolford made the team as a designated hitter. Nick Goode was named as an outfielder and currently leads the league with a .470 batting average with one game left in the season.
Regular season strikeout leader Kris Lalk and ERA leader Kevin Chandler were each named to the team as pitchers. Lalk tied the Pointstreak-era record of 87 strikeouts in a season for the Elkton Blue Sox this year.
Rookie Dan Fry was named to the team in his first season in the RCBL. Fry finished the season batting .316 with four home runs and 26 RBIs. Joining him is veteran Kevin Rush, who batted .292 with 14 RBIs in what is likely his final season.
Stuarts Draft veteran Ryan Cooper was named as a utility player after batting .416 with one home run and 16 RBIs for the Dbacks this season. Cooper’s main position is first base, but he also saw time at every infield position and outfield this season.
EMU product Kyle Mathews made the team as an outfielder, batting .378 with six home runs and 20 RBIs on the season. Mathews leads the Montezuma Braves in nearly every offensive category this season.
Below is the full list of players named to the 2018 All-RCBL team.
Catcher: Tyler Mahone, Bridgewater First Baseman: Brian Bocock, Bridgewater Second Baseman: Josh Wright, Bridgewater Shortstop: Tyler Bocock, Bridgewater Third Baseman: Kevin Rush, Broadway Outfielder: Kyle Mathews, Montezuma Outfielder: Nick Goode, New Market Outfielder: Dan Fry, Broadway Outfielder: Drew Easter, Clover Hill Utility: Ryan Cooper, Stuarts Draft Designated Hitter: Keegan Woolford, Grottoes Pitcher: Corey Armentrout, Clover Hill Pitcher: Kevin Chandler, Clover Hill Pitcher: Kris Lalk, Elkton Pitcher: Eric Yankey, Clover Hill
BRIDGEWATER - The Bridgewater Reds went up against the Elkton Blue Sox on Thursday, taking a big 18-3 win at home. The Reds are now 20-7 on the season and have clinched the three-seed in the playoffs.
“We are getting ready. We’re making that next step for what we've got to be prepared for to get into the playoffs and go with the play off. Play as a team,” Coach Robert Sherfey said about how his team performed last night.
The Reds started the game off early with three runs in the bottom of the first. Tyler Bocock hit a two-run home run scoring Kevin Bocock to give the Reds the first runs of the game. A home run from Josh Wright finished out the runs for the Reds in the bottom of the first, making the score 3-0.
An RBI from Tyler Bocock brought home Grey Sherfey which was the the only run the Reds could bring home in the second inning.
The Blue Sox answered back by bringing home three runs in the top of the third inning. A double from Cameron Stanley brought home Chris Smith and Luke Easter. Christian Rodriguez drove in Stanley on a groundout to make the score 4-3.
Bridgewater got their rhythm in the third inning and answered back to the three runs they let in by bringing home seven runs. Tyler Bocock hit his second home run of the night as the Reds took an 11-3 lead.
The Reds shutout the Blue Sox the rest of the game, limiting them to just three runs.
The Reds scored two more runs in the fourth and five in the sixth as they rolled to a slaughter-rule victory.
“It is up to them. We've got to defend. Everyone is coming after us. We know what we've got to do, so we just got to get that mindset and believe in ourselves,” Coach Sherfey said about heading into the playoffs on Sunday.
The Reds will play again against the New Market Shockers tonight at Ray Heatwole Field. First Pitch is scheduled for7:30.
The Blue Sox will go up against the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks tonight at the Diamond Club. First Pitch is scheduled for 7:30.
The end of the 2018 regular season is shaping up to be just like the beginning. Games that were originally scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday have been pushed back two days due to rain coming through the area this week.
Tonight’s schedule features two games around the league. Elkton travels to Bridgewater for an interdivisional matchup with the Reds. The New Market Shockers will play the Montezuma Braves at Montezuma Ruritan Field, although the Shockers will serve as the home team in the contest. Friday will see four games played on the last day of the regular season. Elkton will be on the road again as the Blue Sox take on the Diamondbacks at the Diamond Club in Stuarts Draft. Broadway will close out the season with a matchup against the Braves in Montezuma. New Market and Bridgewater will face each other at Ray Heatwole Field in their last game of the season.
The Grottoes Cardinals play host to the Clover Hill Bucks at 7:30 on Friday night in a critical matchup for the Cardinals. Tonight is Grottoes’ last game of the regular season and the Cards are just half a game behind New Market in the East Division.
The Cardinals need to win tonight’s game and need the Shockers to lose their next two games in order to win the division. If the two teams are tied in the standings when the season ends, the division champion will be decided by head-to-head performance during the regular season. New Market leads Grottoes three games to one in the regular season series.
With the final games of the season being pushed back, the playoff schedule has been changed as well. As of right now, the playoffs will begin on Sunday, July 29. The first round is a best of three series that will be played on consecutive nights.
Clover Hill has already clinched the one-seed in the playoffs and the Bucks will take on the Braves in the first round. The rest of the playoff matchups will be determined following the conclusion of the regular season.
With two games left in the season, Elkton, Stuarts Draft, Bridgewater and Broadway all have chances to improve their playoff seeding.
The 2018 All-RCBL team will be announced this Saturday, July 28 on the Play Ball show on ESPN 106.9 and 1360 WHBG. Karl Magenhofer and Mike Bocock will announce the players at each position who have been named to the All-RCBL team for their performance during the 2018 season.
Saturday morning’s show will be broadcast live from the Hall of Fame Sports Grill at 2264 Clover Hill Road in Dayton.
ELKTON - Friday night, the Grottoes Cardinals fell one run shy of completing a ninth-inning comeback against the Clover Hill Bucks. On Saturday night, the Cardinals completed the job.
On an uncharacteristically cold night in Elkton, the Cardinals defeated the Blue Sox, 8-3, after scoring five runs in the top of the ninth inning. With their win, Grottoes remains just one game behind New Market in the race for the East, with just a few more days remaining in the regular season.
The story of the night was St. Bonaventure RHP Josh Pittman. Coming off back-to-back performances against Clover Hill and Bridgewater in which he was hit hard and often, Pittman gave up just four hits and two earned runs across seven innings.
His counterpart, potential RCBL Pitcher of the Year Kris Lalk, went 8.2 innings, striking out 10 hitters in the process. Unfortunately, four errors behind him ultimately cost his team the game. Lalk now sits at 87 strikeouts in 52.2 innings.
Brady Cockerham relieved Pittman in the eighth inning, putting in another high quality performance. Cockerham struck out four across two innings, refusing to allow a hit or a walk. He has very quietly put up 2-0 record and 1.39 ERA in seven relief outings this summer.
As for the offense, Grottoes took a two-run lead into the bottom of the fifth, after an RBI-single by Ray Tricarico and Keegan Woolford’s ninth home run of the season.
JJ Loker’s two-run double in the bottom of the seventh gave Elkton a 3-2 lead, until the ninth inning.
Dan Scott led the inning with a HBP, followed by a Logan Grimm single, and an error on a Jacob Merica ground ball. With no outs and the bases loaded, the Cardinals went to work.
Keegan Woolford drew a bases loaded walk, Dylan Nicely recorded an RBI-single, and Eli Lam drew a walk, giving the Cardinals a 5-3 lead with just one out.
Two more runs would come across on a Jacob Zoller single, finalizing the Cardinals’ rally.
Tonight, weather pending, New Market and Elkton have big matchups against Western Division foes, Clover Hill and Bridgewater, respectively. Both games will have a big impact on Grottoes and their standing in the Eastern Division.
Grottoes has just one game left on their schedule, a must-win against the Clover Hill Bucks at home on Tuesday, July 24th.
Clover Hill 8, Montezuma 3
The Clover Hill Bucks scored four runs in the first inning to take an early lead on the way to an 8-3 win over Montezuma on Saturday. Clover Hill added one more run in the third, two in the fifth and one in the eighth to complete the victory.
Bucks' starter Tanner Moyers didn't allow any base runners through the first four and a third innings. Moyers finished the night with six innings pitched, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out six batters.
Clover Hill catcher Cody Warner finished the night 3-for-4 with two runs scored and five RBIs. Warner hit a two-run home run in the fifth inning that scored Blake Sipe.
The Bucks improve to 20-5 on the season with the win. The Bucks have a 2.5 game lead over the Bridgewater Reds with two games left in the season. Their next matchup comes tonight against New Market at Buck Bowman Park.
New Market 11, Stuarts Draft 10
The Shockers were the first to get on the board last night on their way to a win over Stuarts Draft. A home run from Josh Tayman brought home Chase Smallwood to give the Shockers an early lead.
New Market put six more runs on the board during the fourth inning, which started with a RBI hit from Nolan Potts and an error made by Staurts Draft that brought home Joseph Rutherford.
Chase Smallwood walked to first bringing home teammate Billy Quinn, making the score 4-0. Ty Michau brought home Smallwood, Potts, and Gavin Rush with an RBI later in the inning.
Josh Tayman hit a sacrifice fly and brought home Michaud as the Shockers finished the fourth inning leading 8-0.
The Diamondbacks answered back by bringing home four runs in the bottom of the fourth. Ryan Cooper started the four runs with a double that brought home Tyler Wilcher and Zach Brown, which made the score 8-2.
The Shockers scored one run in the sixth and two in the seventh to make the score 11-4.
The Diamondbacks answered back in the eighth and ninth, but couldn’t get past the Shockers, making the final score 11-10.
The Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks will play again against the Elkton Blue Sox on July 25 at the Diamond Club. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. The New Market Shockers will play again tonight against the Clover Hill Bucks at Buck Bowman Park. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.
ELKTON - For the second time in a week, the Bridgewater Reds have shut out the Elkton Blue Sox on the road, winning Thursday night’s game by a score of 14-0. The Reds knocked in 16 hits against Elkton as they bounced back from a loss to Broadway the previous night.
“I think we had a tough loss last night, we didn’t really hit the ball,” Reds’ left fielder Brian Bocock said. “We came out tonight just ready to play again.”
The Reds were without some of their usual starters as they took on the Blue Sox, but that’s something they’ve gotten used to this season as they’ve learned how to adjust.
“That’s what the County League is all about,” Bocock said. “You get guys who have work and families and everything else so you don’t play with all your guys all the time, but tonight was a good bounce back game for us and we’ve got to be ready to go tomorrow.”
Bocock finished the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored and three RBIs. He hit a two-run home run in the top of the sixth to make the score 10-0 Reds. The former Major-Leaguer also showed off his defensive abilities with a diving catch in left field in the bottom of the second inning.
“It was good,” Bocock said about his performance Thursday. “We were short on guys and we were able to put some good at bats together and come out on top and get out of here a little early.”
Josh Wright, Daniel Heatwole and Gehrig Spradlin also had mutli-hit games with Wright coming around to score four times and driving in three runs. Spradlin finished the night 3-for-5 with two runs scored, recording his first official at bats of the season.
It took the Reds a few innings to break the game open. Bridgewater scored two runs in the first and one in the second. After two straight three up, three down innings, the Reds were ready to pile on the runs in the second half of the game.
Bridgewater sent two men across in the fifth before scoring five runs in the sixth and four in the seventh to win the game by slaughter rule.
The Reds improve to 17-7 with the win and trail Clover Hill by just two games in the West Division standings. Each team has four games left in the season, leaving the possibility for Bridgewater to win the West title, but the team isn’t too focused on that.
“I think we’re just out here getting ready for the playoffs honestly,” Bocock said. “We did the same thing last year. Yeah, we’d like to win the division obviously or we wouldn’t be out here, but we stubbed our toe a couple times this year and if we catch them, great. If not, we’ll be ready for the playoffs.”
The Reds travel to Montezuma tonight to take on the Braves at Ruritan Field. First pitch is scheduled for 7:30 p.m.