Members of the media voted last week on the 2019 All-RCBL team, which is made up of 15 of the best players from around the league. Voters chose one player at each infield position, four outfielders, four pitchers, a utility player and a designated hitter to make up the team.
Each RCBL team ended up with at least one representative on the All-RCBL squad. Clover Hill leads the way with four honorees; Ross French, Drew Easter, Nick Corbin and Eric Yankey all earned spots on this year’s team. Easter and Yankey were members of the 2018 All-RCBL team as well. Easter is the only player in the league to earn All-RCBL honors in each of the past three seasons.
Three of the RCBL’s end-of-season award winners made the team: MVP Corbin Lucas, Pitcher of the Year John Judy and Rookie of the Year Luke Paczewski.
A number of statistical leaders are represented on the team as well. Keegan Woolford (.484), Lucas (.425) and David Wood (.422) have the three highest batting averages in the league and each received All-RCBL honors. PJ Hanisak led the league with seven home runs and earned an All-RCBL spot at catcher.
Nick Corbin led the league with a 1.47 ERA while strikeout leader Derek Shifflett earned a spot as a pitcher after fanning 82 batters this season.
Three rookies – Hanisak, Paczewski and Pearce Bucher – earned All-RCBL honors while second-year players Will Hass and John Judy made the team for the first time in their careers.
Joining Judy from the Bruins is outfielder Matt Meiser, who led the league with 21 stolen bases while batting .327 this season. Elkton veteran Christian Rodriguez capped off a fantastic season by earning a spot on this year’s team after batting .341 with four home runs and 26 RBIs this year.
Below is a full list of players named to the 2019 All-RCBL team:
Catcher: PJ Hanisak, Montezuma First Baseman: David Wood, Grottoes Second Baseman: Will Hass, Stuarts Draft Third Baseman: Luke Paczewski, Montezuma Shortstop: Ross French, Clover Hill Outfielder: Drew Easter, Clover Hill Outfielder: Matt Meiser, Broadway Outfielder: Keegan Woolford, Grottoes Outfielder: Corbin Lucas, Bridgewater Utility: Pearce Bucher, New Market Designated Hitter: Christian Rodriguez, Elkton Pitcher: John Judy, Broadway Pitcher: Derek Shifflett, Bridgewater Pitcher: Nick Corbin, Clover Hill Pitcher: Eric Yankey, Clover Hill
BROADWAY - A rainy day led to a quiet night throughout the Valley, but not in Broadway. While every other RCBL postseason game was postponed on Wednesday evening, the Bruins hosted Montezuma in game one of their quarterfinal series.
Broadway right-hander John Judy was as dominant as every as he pitched a complete game, striking out 13 batters on the way to a 5-1 victory. Judy allowed just one run on nine hits and one walk.
The game started as a pitchers’ duel on both sides as Montezuma started John Dudley only allowed one hit through the first three innings. The tide started to turn in the bottom of the fourth, though.
Boo Dean led off the inning with a double and was later drive home on a triple that Matt Meiser rocketed to left field. The throw to third was off target and rolled into the Broadway dugout, allowing Meiser to come home and score as well.
The Bruins would put up two more runs in the bottom of the fifth after Danny Grogg led the inning off with a double and he and Tanner Skidmore each crossed the plate in the frame.
Meanwhile, Judy continued to be dominant on the mound as the game went on. Six of his 13 strikeouts came in the last four innings of the game, including three in the seventh inning.
To cap things off in the bottom of the eighth inning for the Bruins, Meiser walked, stole second, reached third on a wild pitch, and stole home to give the Bruins their fifth run of the game.
Montezuma came close to scoring in the top of the fifth, but Josh Tayman was thrown out trying to cross the plate on a ground ball from Owen Stewart. The Braves eventually put a run on the board in the top of the ninth when Stewart reached after getting hit by a pitch and scored in the inning.
For the Bruins, Meiser finished the night 1-for-3 with two runs and two RBIs. Grogg went 2-for-3 in the game with a run scored.
The win puts the Bruins up 1-0 in the series, needing just one win to advance to the semifinals. The next game is scheduled for tonight at Ruritan Park in Montezuma.
The Braves will look to keep their season alive by securing a win as they return home tonight for a 7:30 p.m. first pitch.
Clover Hill is currently up 1-0 over Grottoes after an 18-5 win on Tuesday night, while Elkton is up 1-0 against New Market after a 10-8 win on Tuesday.
All four series will be back in action tonight, with every game scheduled for 7:30 p.m. All scheduling information can be found here.
All eyes were on Ruritan Field Monday night, as the Bridgewater Reds and the Montezuma Braves played the final game of the regular season. This game would determine the final order of the standings, and therefore lock in the playoff matchups for the 2019 season. After the dust settled, the Braves emerged victorious over the Reds, 13-8.
Now, the playoff picture is clear. The matchups are as follows:
#1 Clover Hill Bucks vs #8 Grottoes Cardinals
Game 1: Tuesday night, at Clover Hill, 7:30 PM Game 2: Wednesday night, at Grottoes, 7:30 PM Game 3 (if necessary): Thursday night, at Clover Hill, 7:30 PM
This matchup was the only one that had been decided before Monday night’s contest. The Clover Hill Bucks completely ran away with the regular season pennant, securing an impressive 24-4 record and beating out the next best team by nine games. The Bucks have made it to the championship series the last two years, but lost both times, so these playoffs certainly have a bit more intensity for the Clover Hill squad. They are ridiculously deep in all facets of their roster, but are headlined by the bat of Josh Eberely (.344 AVG, 22 RBI) and the arm of Nick Corbin (5-0, 1.47 ERA, 35 K).
As for the Cardinals, their solid season has unraveled, resulting in a seven game losing streak to finish the regular season. Now, they will have to try to figure it out against the juggernaut of the Bucks in a three game series. They will look to replicate the success they had in the middle stretch of the season, where they won 7 of 9 games, including a 6-1 win over the Bucks on June 8. No doubt, they will need production from their two MVP-candidate sluggers, Keegan Woolford (.484 AVG, 26 RBI) and David Wood (.422 AVG, 19 RBI).
#2 New Market Shockers vs #7 Elkton Blue Sox
Game 1: Tuesday night, at New Market, 7:30 PM Game 2: Wednesday night, at Elkton, 7:30 PM Game 3 (if necessary): Thursday night, at New Market, 7:30 PM
The Shockers finished the season by winning seven of their last ten games, fueled by a dynamic offense and a reliable stable of starting pitchers. Frankie Ritter (.366 AVG), Peter Mullholland (.415 AVG) and Pearce Bucher (.352 AVG, 27 RBI) form one of the best top-of-the-lineup combinations in the league, as they have a tendency to force the opponent to their bullpen earlier than they anticipated.
New Market will now turn their attention to the intriguing Elkton Blue Sox, who have climbed out of the 8-seed and started to assert themselves as a dark horse candidate for this year’s playoffs. The Blue Sox are headlined by a pair of bombers in JJ Loker (.302 AVG, 3 HR, 24 RBI) and MVP candidate Christian Rodriguez (.341 AVG, 4 HR, 26 RBI). The key for Elkton will be getting solid innings from their starting pitching. This could prove to be one of the more fun series of the first round.
#3 Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks vs #6 Bridgewater Reds
Game 1: Wednesday night, at Stuarts Draft, 7:30 PM Game 2: Thursday night, at Bridgewater, 7:30 PM Game 3 (if necessary): Friday night, at Stuarts Draft, 7:30 PM
The Diamondbacks have put together a very solid season, staying around .500 all summer, but winning key matchups along the way. They are a team with a deep lineup and a reliable bullpen, making them a formidable playoff opponent. Jack Pausic (.326 AVG, 22 RBI), Tanner Levine (.313 AVG) and Tyler Wilcher (.308 AVG) will all be dangerous weapons for Stuarts Draft to deploy.
They will go head to head against the defending champion Bridgewater Reds, who, despite losing a handful of key players from previous seasons, are still very much in the mix.
The Reds’ full capabilities were on display in the middle of the season, where they won 8 of 9 games in commanding fashion. Now, Bridgewater will look to recapture that success behind their star-studded pitching staff, led by the dynamic duo of Derek Shifflett (4 CG, 3.80 ERA, 82 K) and Tucker Garrison (4-2, 4.32 ERA, 55 K). Of course, the other problem for the Dbacks is MVP candidate Corbin Lucas (.425 AVG, 30 RBI) lurking in the middle of the Reds’ lineup.
#4 Broadway Bruins vs #5 Montezuma Braves
Game 1: Wednesday night, at Broadway, 7:30 PM Game 2: Thursday night, at Montezuma, 7:30 PM Game 3 (if necessary): Friday night, at Broadway, 7:30 PM
The Bruins finish the regular season winning 6 of their last 8 games. The Bruins are arguably the most evenly talented team in the league, having solid assets in all aspects of the game. They will now turn to a few key players to take them over the hump, namely John Judy (4-1, 2.31 ERA) on the mound and Matt Meiser (.327 AVG, 25 RBI) at the dish.
As for the Braves, they take a three game win streak into the playoffs, backed by a fearsome offense, anchored by PJ Hanisak (.350 AVG, 28 RBI) and MVP candidate Luke Paczewski (.400 AVG, 16 RBI). The key for Montezuma will be finding reliable innings from their bullpen, which could prove to be a difference maker in this evenly matched series.
After the conclusion of the first round, only four teams will remain, setting up an exciting semi-finals series. Be sure to get out and catch the first round action this week, and stay tuned to the RCBL website for more playoff coverage.
By Adam Harnish After losing on a walkoff walk to the Braves on Friday night, less than twenty four hours later, the Clover Hill Bucks were back on the field. This time, there was a little extra energy in the Bucks dugout.
“We just got back to playing the way we’ve played all year,” Coach Cofer said of their approach.
The Bucks took the lead in the second inning and never looked back, defeating the Grottoes Cardinals 10-4 in a game that challenged their mental toughness.
The previous game against Montezuma had the Bucks up 8-1 going into the sixth inning, until the Braves scored ten runs in the frame, and later went on the win in the ninth. Clover Hill was faced with a similar situation on Saturday night, when they had a 7-0 lead going into the sixth inning. They were able to hold on and shut the door this time, backed by a strong defense and a great effort from their starting pitcher, Eric Yankey.
Yankey threw seven innings, allowing only two runs on five hits and nine strikeouts.
“He’s just a really tough competitor,” Cofer said of Yankey. “He throws a lot of strikes in big spots, and he throws his curveball for a strike a lot. That gives him a lot of benefits.”
Yankey had the curve working tonight, which fueled his success over seven innings. Then, Tanner Moyers came on to get the last six outs, withstanding some choppy waters in both innings.
On the offensive side, it was another well-rounded performance for the Clover Hill lineup, as five hitters had multi-hit games. The Cardinals lineup also had a solid day at the plate, but never had a breakthrough inning to match the Bucks.
The win vaults the Bucks to a pristine 18-3, whereas the Cardinals fall to 9-13, just a half game above seventh place. The Bucks are back home Sunday night versus the Braves (8-13) to seek a little payback, and the Cardinals take the field on Monday night, hosting the New Market Shockers (11-11).
By Adam Harnish The Bucks won again on Tuesday night, blowing out the Grottoes Cardinals 14-3 in eight innings. It was an all-around masterful performance from the team atop the RCBL standings, who have been on the top of their game to start the second half of the season.
“I think things are starting to click for us,” Clover Hill’s Drew Easter said after the game, who went 4-5 at the plate with three runs. “We’re waiting [at the plate], getting some good pitches to hit, and then putting good swings on the ball.”
The Bucks didn’t wait long to get started on Tuesday night. In the first inning, Clover Hill got the bases loaded, and were able to drive all three runners home to take a 3-0 lead. They tacked on another run in the fourth, but their major damage came in the sixth inning, when they erupted for five more runs to push the game to 9-0.
The old baseball cliché is that a good team can find lots of different ways to win a ballgame, and Tuesday was no different for the Bucks. For example: two of the biggest hits of that sixth inning? Back to back bunt singles by Drew Easter and Blake Sipe, who both came around to score in a wild showcase of the relentless Clover Hill offense.
“Every night we come out, we want to be as intense as possible on the baseball field,” Easter said. “We continue to apply pressure, and in this league, when you apply pressure...a lot of things end up going your way.”
Of course, the offense was only half the story for the Bucks, as the pitching staff was able to hold the Cardinals lineup scoreless for most of the night. Starter Jordan Showalter set the tone for Clover Hill, going four innings, allowing zero runs on four strikeouts.
“I just let the defense work,” Showalter said of his approach. “I know the guys behind me are going to make all the plays they need to make, it’s just a matter of going out there, hitting spots, keeping the ball down in the zone and getting some ground balls.”
As for the Cardinals, they were able to get baserunners on early in the game, but they were unable to convert and bring those runners home - nine Cardinals were stranded on the basepaths in the first six innings. It was a disappointing result for a Grottoes team that is making a push for the top of the standings.
The loss puts Grottoes at 8-10 on the year, sitting in fifth place. As for the Bucks, they move to 15-2 on the year, stretching their lead atop the RCBL standings to five games. Both teams return to action on Friday night.
Bridgewater starting pitcher Tucker Garrison and Grottoes catcher Dylan Nicely have been named the RCBL Players of the Week for the week of May 27-June 2.
Garrison is the Journeys Crossing RCBL Pitcher of the Week following a 3-2 win over Grottoes on June 2. The Reds’ hurler tossed a complete game at Shifflett Field, leading his team to their second win of the season. Garrison struck out 14 batters on the night, allowing just two runs to come across the plate.
The win was Garrison’s first outing of the season for Bridgewater, who improved to 2-3 with the victory at Grottoes. Garrison and the Reds will be back on the field Tuesday night at Montezuma.
Facing Garrison at the plate on Sunday night was Cardinals’ catcher Dylan Nicely, who has been named the Timberview Crossing RCBL Player of the Week. Nicely batted .571 in two games this week, hitting one home run and driving in five runs.
Nicely and the Cardinals played on back-to-back nights this week, taking on Broadway on Saturday before facing Bridgewater on Sunday. Nicely went 2-for-3 with a home run and four RBIs in Saturday’s loss to the Bruins.
On Sunday, Nicely went 2-for-4 with a double and one RBI as the Cardinals fell to the Reds at home. Nicely and the Cardinals will be back in action tonight as they host Broadway in a makeup game at Shifflett Field.
CLOVER HILL - The Clover Hill Bucks lost the 2017 finals in five games, but they’re using that as motivation. As they celebrated getting back to the championship series on Saturday night, cheers of “Unfinished business!” rang out among the team.
A 2-1 victory in a pitcher’s duel at Buck Bowman Park sent the Bucks back to the championship series for the second-straight year.
“It’s good. It’s no easy task to do that in this league,” head coach Chris Cofer said about the Bucks earning back-to-back appearances. “There’s a lot of really good talent and some solid organizations and teams in the league, so to get there two years in a row is humbling. I wouldn’t say it’s not expected, but it’s a hard journey.”
After finishing the regular season with a record of 23-5, the Bucks have swept both of their opponents in the playoffs. They defeated Montezuma in two games in the quarterfinals before knocking Grottoes out in three games.
The Bucks’ strong pitching staff, which is stacked with three All-RCBL pitchers, has only gotten better in the postseason.
“Our focus is really good,” Cofer said. “Our pitchers are really hitting their spots.”
Perhaps the biggest contributor to the Bucks’ win on Saturday, starter Kevin Chandler pitched eight innings, giving up just one run and striking out seven batters to send his team back to the championship.
“Pretty much everything,” Chandler said when asked what was working for him during the game. “Pitching game three, Cody [Warner] has caught two of them. I just relied on him. Whatever he called, I threw. Everything was working, so it made it pretty quick.”
Chandler didn’t allow a baserunner through the first three innings and had five total innings in which he retired the Cardinals in order. He didn’t allow a walk on the night and rarely got behind in the count.
“That’s part of my M.O., is just get ahead and then you’re in control of the count,” Chandler said. “Then I can do a lot of different things. If I’m behind 2-0, you’re down, then you’ve got to put it on the plate.”
Chandler isn’t the only Clover Hill pitcher to have a successful outing in the semifinals. Corey Armentrout struck out 10 batters in a 3-2 win in game one while Nick Corbin allowed just one hit through six innings in game two.
“With those two guys, it’s awesome to have, because you know every night with one of them out there you’ve got a chance to win,” Chandler said. “Then with [Eric] Yankey in the back half, that’s tough. We really put an emphasis on playing good defense.” Eric Yankey earned saves in games one and three, proving just as effective as he was during the regular season.
While pitching has been the focal point of the Bucks, they have been able to get the job done offensively as well.
“We had some really hard-nosed at bats in some key spots, like the Easter RBI there in the seventh or eighth, so I think our focus has gotten locked in a little better after the long rainout,” Cofer said.
The RBI he mentioned was a two-out double by Drew Easter that scored Kevin Kirk to give the Bucks the lead in the seventh inning. The game had been close all night and Grottoes tied it in the top of the seventh, but as Cofer said, the Bucks have gotten clutch at bats at the right time.
After losing in the first round of the playoffs in 2016, the Bucks are back to usual form. Saturday’s victory gives Clover Hill the chance to compete for their 18th league championship, something they haven’t accomplished since 2015.
Chandler believes a change in mentality is what helped the Bucks get back to title contention this season.
“Last year we made a huge emphasis on winning every game. Compete hard and win,” Chandler said. “We went on a streak of 14 games last year and I think we just got tired and worn out. This year we knew we were a good ball club, let’s just pitch and play defense, let’s just focus on that. Our hitting will come around. That’s what we’ve done and I feel like we’re a little more in better shape, we’re feeling good.”
The Bucks will face the winner of the New Market/Bridgewater series in the finals. Bridgewater is currently up 2-0 in the series with game three being played tonight at New Market.
Whoever their opponent is, don’t expect the Bucks to make significant changes to their game plan.
“We’re prepared to do what we do” Cofer said. “Trying to change what we do is not something that’s going to benefit us. We’re going to kind of stick with what we do with strategic hits in the right places and playing good strong defense.”
GROTTOES - GROTTOES- The Clover Hill Bucks are now just one win away from punching their ticket to a second-straight trip to the RCBL championship series, after defeating the Grottoes Cardinals 9-5.
Nick Corbin took the mound for the Bucks, giving up just one hit across six innings of work on the road, at Shifflett Field. The lone hit allowed came in the first inning, a ground-rule double off the bat of Keegan Woolford.
Woolford and Ray Tricarico would come around to score on an error, later in the inning, however, that would be the only runs allowed by Corbin and his defense, until the seventh inning.
Despite falling behind early, the offense of Clover Hill exploded for 12 hits, including six combined base-hits from Tanner Moyers and Kevin Kirk. Each added a walk on the night, reaching base a combined nine times on the evening.
Every single Bucks’ starter reached base at least once, adding seven walks to their 12 hits.
The Cardinals attempted a comeback in the bottom of the seventh, scoring three runs off relief pitcher Tyler Conley, including an RBI-single by Woolford to bring the Cardinals to within four. Grottoes proved unable to close the gap anymore over the final two frames.
The bullpen duo of Jordan Showalter and Waring Garber combined for 2.2 innings of scoreless relief to close out the game.
Both teams will take tonight off before resuming the series on Saturday night at Buck Bowman Park. If Clover Hill wins, they clinch the five-game series. Should Grottoes battle back for a victory, the series returns to Shifflett Field on Sunday evening, for game four.
CLOVER HILL - The Clover Hill Bucks and Grottoes Cardinals hadn’t played since the end of the July, when both teams completed first round sweeps in the RCBL playoffs. Last night at Buck Bowman Park, the two teams finally began their semifinal matchup, resulting in a 3-2 Clover Hill win.
Corey Armentrout took the mound in game one for the Bucks, striking out 10 Cardinals in seven innings of work. He allowed no earned runs on seven hits and did not issue a single free pass.
Armentrout looked confident the entire outing, saying after the game, “I believe in my stuff. I’m a fastball pitcher and I’m able to spot up and command.” Evident by his zero walks and starting all but three at-bats with a first pitch strike, through his first six innings of work.
Coach Cofer handed the ball to All-RCBL closer Eric Yankey, who slammed the door shut on Clover Hill’s game one victory, giving up just one hit and one walk while striking out four over his two innings of relief.
Grottoes starting pitcher Josh Pittman kept the bases clean before hitting Danny Grogg to lead off the bottom of the third inning. Grogg would later score on an RBI-single by leadoff hitter Ross French for the first run of the evening.
Clover Hill would add another run in the next frame on an RBI-single by Grogg, scoring Blake Sipe to put the Bucks up 2-0.
Grottoes came back to tie the game in the top of the fifth, scoring two runs on a Clover Hill error with bases loaded and two outs. However, another Ross French RBI in the sixth proved to be all Clover Hill would need to secure the victory.
The Cardinals refused to go down quietly, getting two men on base via hit-by-pitch and a walk in the ninth. The game came down to the league’s best reliever in Yankey vs. one of the league’s top power hitters in Keegan Woolford. Playoff baseball at its finest.
Woolford quickly fell behind 0-2, eventually falling victim to the strikeout to wrap up the game.
“I think we were ready to get after it, after sitting back with all this rain. It’s always a pretty big deal to get the first game under your belt and gain confidence as a team,” said Armentrout after the game.
GROTTOES- Behind a strong pitching performance from Adam Dofflemyer and big night from the bottom of the batting order, the Grottoes Cardinals became the first team to advance to the semi-finals of the 2018 RCBL playoffs.
With a 6-3 win on Monday night in front their home crowd, the fifth-seeded Cardinals completed their sweep of the four-seed Broadway Bruins.
Broadway struck first as starting pitcher John Judy scored on a Kevin Rush fielder’s choice in the top of the fourth, breaking up what had been a pitcher’s duel between Judy and Dofflemyer.
Grottoes responded in the bottom half of the inning with a four-run explosion, including a three-run double by Matt Curry. Curry upped his playoff RBI total to six in just two games.
Judy would try and pull his Bruins back in the eighth, driving in Bryce Strawderman with an RBI single and later scoring himself, pulling Broadway to within two, heading into the ninth inning
The comeback attempt would eventually fall short as Michael Wilhite came out to work a quick final frame and secure the series-clinching victory for the Cardinals.
Adam Dofflemyer was credited with the win after giving up just one run on four hits in his five innings of work. Meanwhile, the eight/nine hitters of Logan Grimm and Matt Curry combined to go 3-for-6 at the plate with two walks, four runs driven in, and a run scored.
The loss ends an impressive 2018 season for the Broadway Bruins. The Bruins finished the regular season with an 18-10 record, finishing third in the extremely competitive Western Division.
With a roster of young talent led by Head Coach Justin Getz, the Bruins are poised to come back just as strong in 2019. Their 18 wins this season nearly matched their entire win total from 2014-2017 (21 wins).
The rest of the playoffs will continue tonight, with every series but New Market/Elkton up for grabs.