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
The RCBL end-of-season awards have been finalized for the 2019 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.
Stepping up as a veteran leader on a Bridgewater team that lost most of its core over the offseason, Corbin Lucas earned MVP honors for the 2019 season. Lucas batted .425 with five home runs this summer. His 30 RBIs led the league, while his other offensive marks were near the top.
The Reds’ right fielder posted an on-base-percentage of .475 while slugging .782 over the course of 23 games, leading the Reds to a 12-16 season. Lucas’ five home runs are the most he has ever hit as a member of the Reds.
Just up Route 42 in Broadway, Bruins starter John Judy put together a phenomenal season on his way to becoming Pitcher of the Year. Judy finished the regular season with a record of 4-1, posting a 2.31 ERA and striking out 65 batters.
Judy’s season was highlighted by a rain-shortened no-hitter, in which he struck out nine batters in six innings. He had a season-high 14 strikeouts in a complete game victory against Montezuma on July 20. Judy’s season helped lead the Bruins to a 14-14 season and the fourth seed in the 2019 postseason.
Making a breakthrough in his first year in the RCBL, Montezuma’s Luke Paczewski earned Rookie of the Year honors. Paczewski hit .400 on the season, while driving in 16 runs for the Braves. He added six walks and seven doubles to cap off his standout rookie season.
In his first year at the helm of the New Market Shockers, Nolan Potts led the team to a 15-13 record to earn Coach of the Year honors. Potts served as an assistant in New Market for multiple seasons before being promoted to head coach for the 2019 season.
Potts led the Shockers to their first season above .500 in the Pointstreak Era, which dates back to the 2013 season. He was able to recruit a plethora of new talent while retaining many of the players that have seen success in New Market in previous seasons.
Potts occasionally had to put himself into the lineup as well, hitting .231 on the season in seven games played for the Shockers.
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.
MONTEZUMA - Heading into the bottom of the eighth inning, the Montezuma Braves were staring at a 6-0 deficit, facing off against a pitcher who they had only gotten one hit off of in six innings. A few fans were starting to trickle towards their vehicles.
And then, with one swing, the Braves were back in the game. Kyle Armstrong ripped a line drive three-run home run just inside the left field foul pole, cutting the lead in half. The floodgates opened then for the Braves, and the massive inning had a second major swing by Tavien Hall, who crushed a three-run double to right-center field to give the Braves a 7-6 lead.
Now, with a one run lead heading to the ninth, the Braves suddenly needed a closer to finish the game off. Coach Rush turned to Jacob King, who had to face the top of the Broadway lineup. After a leadoff single by Bryce Strawderman, King was able to settle in and retire three of the next four batters to shut the door and secure the victory for Montezuma.
“It’s huge,” Armstrong said of the come-from-behind victory. “It’s a big momentum swing for the team. Once you get those runs on the board you start to believe.”
The Braves have had several injuries that have dried up their roster over the past couple of weeks. Armstrong himself just returned from his honeymoon, just in time to play a couple key roles for his team: in the ninth, Armstrong was the catcher for King.
“He’s a guy I’ve actually coached at Riverheads,” Armstrong said of King. “So I know how he likes to pitch, that made it easy for me.”
For the Broadway Bruins, it was a devastating loss. Pitcher Bryce Turner was forced into the game in the second inning due to an injury, but he made the most of his appearance, having six shutout innings before the wheels came off in the eighth. Tanner Skidmore had a two run home run of his own in the top of the eighth, and Kevin Rush had an impressive string of at bats in the middle of the game.
All that, however, went out the window as the Braves roared back and took the game for themselves. The win moves the Braves up to 10-16, still just one game out of the dreaded 8th place in the RCBL standings. The Bruins, meanwhile, fall to 13-14, still good for 4th place.
The Bruins final regular season game is on Saturday, where they host the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks (13-12). The Braves have a couple games left, the first of which is on Friday, when they are back home against the Bridgewater Reds (11-14).
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.
By Adam Harnish Clinging to a one run lead in the eighth, with the bases loaded and the tying run on third base, Braves pitcher Alex Markopoulos knew he was in a tough spot. But, he still had a plan. “I was just looking to pound the zone,” Markopoulos recalled. “In my head, just pound the zone, and make them beat me with the bat.”
Sure enough, Markopoulos induced an inning ending groundout to escape the jam. The Montezuma Braves (4-3) went on to win a gritty, intense matchup 5-4 against the Bridgewater Reds (2-5), anchored by a crucial 3.2 innings of relief from their young right hander.
“[Markopoulos] pitches with confidence,” Montezuma coach Chris Rush said after the game. “He’s one of those guys that when he takes the mound, if the game is close, he’s going to keep you right there where you need to be.”
Bridgewater started off the game with a two run double courtesy of Kyle Weston, but the Braves quickly responded with three runs of their own in the bottom of the frame. The Braves tacked on two more runs in the middle innings, and their relief pitchers, Troy Fink and Keegan Oliver, held down the fort until the middle of the sixth inning. That’s when Coach Rush went to his closer.
“The last game [Markopoulos] pitched, we were really impressed with what we saw. So, we knew going into this game that he was going to be our closer guy tonight,” Rush explained.
Things got dicey for the Braves in the top of the eighth, when some quality Reds at-bats and a few close calls resulted in a run getting walked in, making the score 5-4. With their back against the wall, bases loaded and two outs, the Braves stuck with Markopoulos on the mound, and he was able to get out of the jam. He went on to pitch a one-two-three ninth inning to put the game in the books.
OTHER STANDOUT PERFORMANCES: Reds CF Grey Sherfey went 2 for 2 with three walks, two runs and one RBI, improving his batting average to .444 on the year...Reds starting pitcher Derek Shifflett threw all eight innings for Bridgewater, only allowing three earned runs on seven hits and eight strikeouts....oh, and by the way, Markopoulos had himself a day at the plate as well: a pair of hits, with an RBI and a run scored.
The Braves travel to Grottoes to take on the Cardinals (1-6) on Friday night. The Reds get a bit of a breather before their next matchup on Sunday at home against the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks (2-3).
By Adam Harnish Even though it’s early in the season, it’s pretty easy to say: it’s a good time to be a Clover Hill Bucks fan.
The Bucks won their sixth straight game on Saturday night, defeating the Montezuma Braves by a score of 9-2 to stretch their record to an impressive 6-0 to start the season.
“We’re playing good steady baseball,” Coach Cofer of the Bucks said after the game. “We’re pitching the ball really well right now.”
The Bucks’ pitching staff kept a dangerous Braves lineup to only two runs on the night, just a few days after that same lineup had erupted for 23 runs against the Blue Sox. Leading that pitching effort for the Bucks was starter Kevin Chandler, who went for six innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits and five strikeouts.
“He’s keeping the ball down really well,” Coach Cofer said of his starter. “He’s getting ahead, and he was picking well with his slider on the outside corner...he’s very efficient with his pitches.”
Chandler was matched by an equally good start by the Braves starting pitcher, Matt Sykes. Sykes also went six innings and allowed two earned runs on three hits and seven strikeouts. The pitchers’ duel extended into the top of the eighth inning, when the Bucks finally broke the game open with a six run burst.
“That’s pretty normal,” Chandler said of his offense’s performance. “They battle and grind, and we don’t get too pressured. We just stay in our game, and the hits will come.”
A series of errors in that inning dictated a late game meltdown for the Braves. The frustrating result for them has them at 3-3 on the year, still sitting at a respectable fourth place in the RCBL standings.
The Bucks are back in action on Tuesday when they play at home against the Broadway Bruins (3-0). The Braves have another home game on that same Tuesday against the Bridgewater Reds (1-3).
MONTEZUMA - The Clover Hill Bucks made it past the quarterfinals by taking down the Montezuma Braves, 12-3 last night at Ruritan Field.
“We made a couple mistakes tonight, a couple of errors, but we were very aggressive too. So we created some opportunities for us at the same time,” Coach Chris Cofer said about his team's performance last night.
The Bucks got on the board early in the first inning when a double from Tanner Moyers brought home Drew Easter, making it 1-0 heading into the second inning.
In the top of the third Luke Shiflett drew a bases loaded walk, sending Cody Warner home. Warner drove in John Siciliano in the fourth to make it 3-0 Bucks.
The Braves got on the board late in the game by bringing home two runs from Sam Imeson and Owen Stewart, making the score 3-2 going into the sixth inning.
The Bucks brought home three runs in the sixth inning, getting some momentum going with a stolen base by Kevin Kirk.
“One big play was Kevin Kirk stealing third base from that bunt attempt, that broke the game a little bit for us,” Cofer said about Kirk's big play.
Montezuma got their last run on the board bottom of the sixth as Kyle Armstrong got hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, sending Imeson home.
Luke Shiflett hit a home run in the top of the seventh before the Bucks exploded for five runs in the eighth to win the game 12-3. With the win, Clover Hill advances to the semifinals. The Bucks will have to wait until the rest of the quarterfinals series get wrapped up before they'll know their opponent.
CLOVER HILL - The Clover Hill Bucks took a 10-7 win last night against the Montezuma Braves at home to take a one-game lead in the first round of the playoffs.
The Braves got on the board early in the first inning as an error made by the third baseman brought home Zach Roberts.
The Bucks answered back to that one run by bringing home four runs in the bottom of the first inning starting with an RBI from Cody Warner that brought home Ross French. A home run from Tanner Moyers brought home Alex Knicely and Blake Sipe, which made the score 4-1.
“That big home run in the first inning was really big, that made a big difference. Corey battled through and got us some innings to give us the chance to not throw so many arms in the back half of the game as we might have earlier,” Coach Chris Cofer said about Moyers' home run and the Bucks' pitching.
The Bucks added three more runs in the third and two in the fourth to widen their lead. Clover Hill scored their final run in the bottom of the seventh with an RBI groundout from Ross French bringing home Danny Grogg.
The Braves got into a rhythm just a little late in the eighth inning when they brought home five runs. Jordan Yankey scored on a single from Brandon Lambert to start the inning for the Braves. Kyle Mathews hit a grand slam which brought home Lambert, Kyle Armstrong, and Cody Fitzgerald, making the score 10-7.
The Bucks were able to retire the side in order in the top of the ninth to take the win in game one. The two teams will face off again in game two tonight at Montezuma Ruritan Park.