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By Mitchell Broughton
NEW MARKET— A rather sloppy start for the New Market Shockers proved to be too much to overcome the Broadway Bruins offense. Broadway defeated New Market 15-3 in seven innings at Rebel Field.
Recent roster additions were the difference maker for Broadway. Starting pitcher Liam McDonnell from James Madison pitched a near perfect outing. The left-hander gave up zero hits and zero runs alongside four strikeouts and just one walk in three innings. His JMU teammate Chase DeLauter had two hits and knocked in three runs while also scoring one himself in his first RCBL action. Another newcomer, Austin Martin, was the unofficial player of the game. Martin’s two doubles drove in four runs for the Bruins; he was also instrumental on the defensive side, playing a role in both of Broadway’s double plays.
In their second game of 2020, Broadway has showcased an aggressive offensive strategy, which one can assume is the work of assistant coach Bobby Wease. For the most part, it’s been successful. The Bruins' two stolen bases last night bring them up to five on the season. The aggressive base running has put more runners in scoring position, simply leading to more runs.
On the other side, it was anything but a clean night for the New Market. The Shockers’ six errors led to four extra runs for the Bruins. Add that to the four hit batters by New Market pitchers and it leads to a twelve-run deficit after three innings that in most cases is improbable to come back from. Without the mistakes, the six New Market pitchers combined for 11 strikeouts and four walks.
However, the Shockers did begin to show some offensive rhythm later in the game. Shortstop Frankie Ritter was 2 for 4 with back-to-back doubles in the fifth and seventh innings, driving in one run for New Market. Ethan Laird also had a 2-RBI double in the sixth in an attempt to decrease their deficit.
Both teams, now 1-1, will take the field again on Tuesday night. Broadway travels to Shifflett Field to take on the Grottoes Cardinals and New Market will host the Clover Hill Bucks. Both games are scheduled to start at 7:30 PM.
FINAL in 7: Broadway 15 New Market 3. Winning pitcher: Liam McDonnell. Losing pitcher: Colton Harlow.
By Megan Phelps and Justin Berry
In an early game beginning at 5pm Grottoes Cardinals won over the Elkton Blue Sox. The final score was 10-2 in what seemed like a close game in the beginning. The Cardinals started scoring runs after the 4th inning, and couldn’t be stopped. The Cardinals coach, Tim Nicely, said that his win was due to his strategy of switching out players so everyone got a chance to play and thrive. He gave credit to their recovery guys stating that they really pulled the game through all the way to the end.
We also got the chance to interview Cardinals player Austin Nicely after the game. Austin had a great hit and had several RBI’s during the game. Austin stated that he was proud of his team. Austin continued and said that he was hoping for a win but he did not think it would be by so much. He agreed with Coach Tim Nicely, saying the second half of their team made it possible to get the win. Austin’s personal goal this season is, “…during this crazy 2020 year to just have fun.” Overall, last night’s game had a lot of high performing athletes, with the Cardinals using every aspect of their team.
By Leyton Pullin
Night number two of the RCBL season featured the newest installment of one of the oldest rivalries in all of baseball as the Clover Hill Bucks defeated the Bridgewater Reds 5-4 in walk off fashion in 10 innings.
Bridgewater started the scoring early in the top of the firs for the second game in a row as Corbin Lucas would hit a single that would score Derek Shifflett to give the Reds a 1-0 lead. The Bucks would strike back in the third with a lead off double from Kevin Kirk then Drew Easter would launch a 2-run homerun over the green monster in left field to give the Bucks a 2-1 lead. They would add another run in the inning as Tyler Bocock would hit an RBI single scoring Blake Sipe to make it 3-1 in favor of the homestanding Bucks.
Scoring would pick back up in the sixth as JMU commit Braeson Fulton would hit a RBI single for Clover Hill giving the Bucks a 4-1 lead. Then in top of the 8th Bridgewater would answer as Derek Shifflett would hit a 2 RBI double to make the score 4-3. The game would eventually become tied at four as Brett Tharpe would cross the plate on a Grey Sherfy ground out.
Clover Hill would get an opportunity in the bottom of the 9th but they would leave courtesy runner Alex Knicely stranded on third sending the game into extra innings. Eric Yankey would start the top of the 10th on the bump for the Bucks by giving up two walks but would come up with three straight punchouts to end the Reds attack. The bottom of the 10th opened as Drew Easter would drive a hard hit ball and would reach as Waring Garber could not make the play. Blake sipe would then step in and would drive in Easter to win the game 5-4 for the Bucks.
For Bridgewater they saw a productive night out of Derek Shifflett as he went 3 for 5 at the plate with 2 RBIs but he would end up with the loss in his short appearance in the 10th. Bridgewater drops to 1-1 and will travel to Montezuma (1-2) on Tuesday.
The Bucks saw solid run production from the top three hitters in their lineup as Drew Easter, Blake Sipe, and Tyler Bocock combined for 5 hits and 4 RBIs. Eric Yankey would pick up the win for the Bucks in his relief effort. Clover Hill improves to 2-0 and will travel to New Market(1-1) on Tuesday.
By Mitchell Broughton
Hundreds of spectators flooded historic Buck Bowman Park on Saturday night to witness the first live sports to take place in the Valley in months, watching the Clover Hill Bucks defeat the Broadway Bruins 6-4.
After a slow offensive start for the Bucks facing Broadway’s John Judy, reigning RCBL Pitcher of the Year, Clover Hill rallied after a game-tying three-run home run from 1B Luke Shifflett in the bottom of the 6th. DH Tyler Bocock broke the tie in the bottom of the 8th after crushing a two-run home run over the center field seats to give Clover Hill a 5-3 lead. Later on in that same inning, 2B Kevin Kirk’s double scored SS Grant Painter to increase the Bucks lead 6-3.
Clover Hill relied on a joint pitching effort, starting with RHP Nick Corbin. Corbin in four innings gave up three hits and a walk, but struck out two batters and allowed zero runs. Sam Ewald, helped in relief to strike out three of his own to go along with zero hits and zero runs. Closing out the game for the Bucks, veteran closer Eric Yankey got out of a potential 9th inning Broadway rally to strike out the final batter, securing the first win of 2020 for Clover Hill. The Buck’s pitching core received great help from their defense, middle infielders Kevin Kirk (2B) and Ross French (SS) orchestrated three crucial double plays early on in the contest, causing Broadway to leave eight runners on base.
John Judy, limited to a pitch count, seemed to be continuing his dominance from 2019. The Broadway right-hander struck out four and gave up four hits and a run in five and two-thirds innings.
The Bruins came into Friday night’s game with a new attitude and an aggressive offensive strategy that could only be influenced by new assistant coach and RCBL Hall of Famer Bobby Wease. Broadway played small ball, with three stolen bases on the evening the Bruins seemed to always have a runner in scoring position. In the top of the 6th, catcher Travis Reifsnider broke the scoreless tie with a double that scored SS Josh Jones. Two batters later, left fielder Tyler Ault’s double scored Reifsnider. Ault scored on the next play as CF Matt Meiser singled to right field.
Broadway, just 1-3 against Clover Hill last season, looks to have put together a competitive lineup for 2020 as shown in tonight’s contest. As noted previously, the additional talent coming into the RCBL this season makes it so any team has a shot at a pennant and the title.
Around the league: The Grottoes Cardinals won both games of a doubleheader against the Montezuma Braves 4-2 and 13-5. The New Market Shockers defeated the Elkton Blue Sox 5-3. And the Bridgewater Reds beat the Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks 13-6 in ten innings.
By Leyton Pullin
Extra baseball was in store on opening night for the RCBL as the Bridgewater Reds defeated the Stuarts Draft Diamondback 14-6 in 10 innings.
The game started with a bang in the top of the 1st as Tyler Mahone hit a 2-Run Home Run off of Calyb King, but the Dbacks would respond in the bottom of the first Jaily Paredes RBI single before Reds starting pitcher Derek Shifflett would record four of his seven punchouts on the night to silent the Stuarts Draft offense.
In the bottom of the third the Dbacks would tally two more with back to back RBI base hits from Terrell Thompson and Will Haas to tie the game up at three. Bridgewater responded in the fifth as Tyler Mahone would rack in three more RBIs on a double that would score Jacob Greybeel, Derek Shifflett, and Grey Sherfey making the score 5-3 Bridgewater. Each team tagged on a run in the 7th inning with each leadoff hitter waling and later scoring. In the bottom of the 8th Stuarts Draft would take advantage of a Reds error and a hit batsman as Reeves Whitmore would hit a line drive into the gap for a 2 RBI double tying the score at 6-6. Neither team would put any runs across in the 9th leading to some extra baseball on opening night. The top of the 10th started for the Reds with a baserunner as George Lasse would reach base on an error and would eventually walk across as the go ahead run on a 2 RBI single by Corbin Lucas. Bridgewater would go on to put 8 runs in an error filled 10th inning and go on to win by a score of 14-6.
Derek Shifflett put in a quality start for the Reds as he went 5 innings with 3 earned runs and 7Ks. Shifflett said he was glad to be playing baseball and expressed how the win was a real team effort. Shifflett added a 1 for 5 day at the plate with two runs scored. Tyler Mahone would put up a 2 for 4 effort with 5 RBIs and 2 walks. Corbin Lucas also added 3RBIs and a 1 for 6 effort at the plate. Waring Garber would record the win for the Reds in a 3 plus inning relief performance.
For Stuarts Draft Manager Les Sandridge simply said, “ The score didn’t show what we played as.” Sandridge seemed happy with the utputhe received from his team on opening night as Terrel Williams put up a 3 for 4 night at the plate with 2 doubles and an RBI. Infeilder Will Haas also added a multi-hit performance with a 2 for 5 day with an RBI. Calyb King got the start for the Dbacks and would exit after six innings of work with 5 earned runs and 9 strikeouts. Jacob Matheney would end up with the loss for the Dbacks.
Stuarts Draft (0-1) will play host to Montezuma on Sunday at 6:30 while Bridgewater (1-0) will travel to Clover Hill in a rematch of the 2019 Championship Series.
The Rockingham County Baseball League is proud to announce another season with multiple broadcast outlets for fans to listen to throughout the summer. The league will broadcast eight games online on the RCBL website as well as 10 games on WSVA 550.
"I was already excited for the RCBL season to begin and the opportunity to broadcast the action for our WSVA listeners this year only adds to that excitement. I can't wait to turn on the mic and say 'you're listening to RCBL baseball,'" Karl Magenhofer of WSVA said.
On the call for the 10 games broadcasted on WSVA will be Magenhofer, Mario Retrosi, Mike Bocock and Matthew Atkins. Bocock, who would have managed the Woodstock River Bandits in the Valley Baseball League this summer, is excited for the opportunity to be involved with the RCBL again.
"Since I am not going to be on the field this season, I am still going to be close to the action. I look forward to working with Karl, Matt, Mario and the RCBL," Bocock said.
In addition to the online games and the games on WSVA, the Broadway Bruins will have select games broadcast on the Morris Broadcasting. ESPN 1240 in Staunton will also air Stuarts Draft Diamondbacks games throughout the season.
"It is especially important this year to offer radio and online broadcasting to our fans," commissioner Randy Atkins said. "Some fans may not be comfortable coming out to the ballpark and we certainly understand that but they should get to experience baseball in the Valley. It is going to be an incredibly competitive season with excellent quality baseball."
The league's 2020 broadcast schedule begins tonight with Broadway at Clover Hill on the RCBL website.
By Josiah Schulz
Saturday, June 27th was the perfect day for baseball. An evening neither too hot nor too cold, clear blue skies, and most importantly, stands packed full of spectators from the community. Socially distanced, of course.
“This was the biggest crowd I’ve ever seen for a Shockers game.” said the New Market Shockers’s head coach Nolan Potts. “I have been here for 7 years and I don’t think we’ve ever had this many people here. Playoff games, nothing.”
For Pitcher Darrell Thompson, however, the pressure of a packed stadium would not prevent him from having an excellent game.
Thompson, a former Shenandoah University Hornet, would prove essential in the Shockers 5-3 victory vs. the Elkton Blue Sox, pitching 10 strikeouts in 6 innings, holding the opposing Blue Sox scoreless until late in the 6th inning.
When asked what was different about tonight as opposed to a normal night of Baseball, Thompson said this:
“The biggest difference is that the past 2 years I have been a reliever in the Frontier league. 6th, 7th inning guy. I haven’t started a game since 2017. I had my first start again tonight, so it felt great. It was good to come out here and have some competition in baseball again.
Ran out of gas a little bit in the 6th, gave up those back to back doubles on fastballs. 6th inning, just did not have as much life on (some pitches) and guys put good swings on it. Other than that, we scraped together a great win as a team.”
Thompson, alongside fellow Shockers teammate and current Colorado Rockies player Colt Harlow, were only recently informed they would even have the opportunity to compete for the Rockingham County Baseball League this season. When asked how it felt to be able to compete for RCBL, Thompson had this to say:
“Well, it was a little happy and a little sad at the same time. I found out on Tuesday or Wednesday of this week that the Frontier League season would be cancelled due to COVID-19. I had been in touch with Coach Nolan Potts, a former teammate of mine. From the get go, we said ‘if I don’t have a Frontier League this season then I still want to play baseball.’ I don’t need the money. I just want to get out here and throw with these guys.”
This was an emphatic victory for not only the team, but for the community of New Market as a whole. Spending the past 3 months away from any sort of sports or social interactions due to the Commonwealth of Virginia being on lockdown, folks were not only eager to return to the game of baseball, but thirsted for it. This win tonight quenched their thirst.
“An opening day win at home.. nothing gets better than that. It sparks a great atmosphere for the team and for the community, really bonds us together.. and a comeback win? Couldn’t ask for much more.” Thompson said with a bright smile.
The New Market Shockers look to improve their home winning streak to 2-0 against Broadway Sunday night at 6:30 P.M.
By: Mitchell Broughton
For the last few seasons there have been familiar faces in the RCBL championship series. The Bridgewater Reds and Clover Hill Bucks have clashed in the finals repeatedly since 2017, Bridgewater claimed the titles in ‘17 and ‘18. The Reds hope that 2020 is no different — it’s championship or bust.
“That’s why these guys play, to get to the championship series,” Reds manager Robert Sherfey said. “They’re competitors and that’s just the ways these boys were brought up — they play to win.”
Like most teams in the league, the Reds are welcoming some new and returning faces back to their roster this summer. Arguably the most impactful addition in the entire league is James Madison pitcher and former Red, Justin Showalter. The right-hander started out the 2020 season for the Dukes 4-0 with a 0.68 ERA. Sherfey had nothing but praise for the Bridgewater native, “[Showalter] is just a great asset, he’s going to really bring the best out of the rest of the team.” Also joining the Reds from JMU is another right-hander, Liam Grubbs.
Grubbs and Showalter are just two of the dozen or so arms that Coach Sherfey has compiled to help with the condensed schedule. He noted that every team this season is going to be star-studded, “This is gonna be a good year for the battle, any team could win it.” What’s going to be the difference maker is how each team handles their pitching with 21 regular season games in just over a month.
However, the true strength of the Reds will be in their core group of returning veterans. Coming back for what will be his seventh season in a Bridgewater uniform, Grey Sherfey aims to continue his strong stint with the Reds after batting .444 last season with 16 RBIs. Another big bat coming back to Bridgewater is reigning RCBL MVP Corbin Lucas. Lucas led the league last season with 43 RBIs while batting .483 through the entirety of the 2019 season. Finalizing the three-headed offensive dragon for the Reds is Jacob Grabeel who finished last season batting .314 with 17 RBIs and 4 home runs.
Robert Sherfey has been with and around the County League since he was young and with his son Grey now the oldest veteran on his roster (however just 22 years old), he knows the formula to win a championship — effort. “I expect no less than 110% from these boys,” Sherfey said. “I come out every day giving it all to them because I know that’s what I’ll get back in return.”
Bridgewater opens up the 2020 season on Saturday June 27th at Diamond Park to take on Stuarts Draft at 7:30pm.
By Adam Harnish
The RCBL is back, and continuing in our 2020 series, today we’re taking a look at the New Market Shockers.
The Shockers had one of the best regular seasons in the RCBL last year, finishing in second place, but suffered a devastating first round sweep in the playoffs at the hands of the Elkton Blue Sox. This year, the team is hoping to bounce back from that heartbreak in a shortened, jam-packed 2020 season.
The Shockers are managed by Nolan Potts, who earned Coach of the Year honors in his very first season at the helm of the team. I had the opportunity to speak with Coach Potts for a few minutes about the upcoming season for the Shockers, his expectations for his team, and just how exactly can you coach humbly after winning Coach of the Year in your first year??
The following transcript is lightly edited for clarity.
RCBL Staff: So, I’m not sure if you were expecting it or not, but despite the coronavirus and quarantine looming over us this summer, we will be having an RCBL season! How do you feel about the season getting started?
Coach Potts: I'm excited! Randy Atkins [the commissioner] had told us when the whole pandemic started, “be ready to play some baseball, because we're going to do everything we can to put on a season.” At times it looked pretty bleak, like it wasn't going to happen, but to his credit, he just told us to stay with it, hold on, and we'll be able to get some sort of season in...and now here we are, two weeks out from the start of the season!
It is really exciting to know a new season is coming up, especially for the Shockers. You guys had a really good regular season last year, but then a tough playoff exit in the first round. How is last season going to factor into this season?
Well, like you said, we had a really good regular season, but we kind of fizzled out at the end [of the regular season]. And then, in the playoffs, we had a three-run lead in the first run in the first game of the series against Elkton, and we blew that. And then we ran into arguably the best pitcher in the league last year in game two [Kris Lalk], and he struck us out 20 times in a playoff game! So, it was a disappointing way to end the season, but a lot of the guys we had last year are back, and they still have that taste in their mouth of unfinished business. We believed we were going to go on a playoff run, maybe make it to the semi-finals, hopefully finals...it was over way before any of us expected. And I think there's going to be a little more intensity this year for the guys, because they had a couple months of their college season taken away from them this year. That, combined with how last season ended, just will fuel the fire a little more for us.
Let’s talk about your players - you had arguably the best top of the lineup in the league last year. [All-RCBL] Pearce Bucher was a huge part of that, and there’s a whole list of guys that can really play...are most of those guys returning for the 2020 season?
Yeah, most guys will be coming back! I think Nick Goode will be the only guy not coming back, he moved up to the Falls Church area for a job, so schedule-wise it wasn’t going to work for him. But the majority of the guys are returning: Frankie Ritter (.366 AVG, 12 SB), Pearce Bucher (.352 AVG, 27 RBI)… we added Grant Thompson, who was hitting fourth for Shenandoah University this year, he's been really good there. And we’re getting a full season of Henry Delavergne (.333 AVG), he hits number two at Shenandoah, and played a few games with us last season, but he’s coming on for a full season this year. So, I think the top of our order, again, can match up with just about anybody in the league.
You mentioned Shenandoah University - a large majority of the players on your team are from that particular college. What is the relationship between Shenandoah and the Shockers?
So, I played at Shenandoah University. I graduated from there in 2015, and when I was at Shenandoah going into my junior season in 2014, I started playing for the Shockers in the RCBL. One of our guys, Zach Stiles, Mr. Iron Man in the RCBL [laughs], was trying to build that connection, where he would try to get Shenandoah guys that would stay in Winchester over the summer to play with the Shockers. And gradually, over time, over my seven seasons we’ve kept bringing in more and more guys from Shenandoah. My thinking is, if they can play there, they’ve got to be able to play a little bit. Coach Anderson [of Shenandoah] doesn't just take anybody off the street! And, word just gets around for those guys. For me, it takes the recruiting part out of it, because the Shenandoah guys all talk to each other about [the Shockers]. From [their perspective], they get to hang out with their buddies all summer, they’re already familiar with each other...I think 22 of the 28 players on our roster are from Shenandoah? So, it just makes sense for us.
Very interesting. Well, this season is exciting for you too, because you were voted Coach of the Year last year in your first year! Congratulations on that. How do you come back from the next season after winning that award?
Well...hopefully I just don't lay an egg! [Laughs]...no, I’m kidding. Just continue to do what we did last year. I think our biggest thing is going to be, can we get our guys to come to games? Last year, on paper, we were pretty darn good. But the problem was, we have guys that would take vacations for a week, and then once they get back, somebody else would have to go on a vacation for a couple days. We hit a groove in the middle of the season, but then guys started leaving, and that kind of threw a rhythm off at the end of the regular season. So, with this summer, hopefully we're going to have better attendance, because the guys just want to get back out there and play.
That makes sense.
My biggest thing personally about what I'm trying to manage is going to be the pitching. These guys haven't thrown live in three months! The hitters are going to be fine...I mean, it might take a couple games for the hitters, but they'll figure it out. My big problem is going to be, can I manage all the pitchers? I’ll have to keep them fresh and not overuse them...and make sure they're listening to their bodies. With a 21-game season played in only a month, we’ll have five games a week. And right out of the gate, nobody is going to be ready to throw 6, 7, 8 innings a game. So, we’ll be just trying to piece it together that way. Anyway, it was an honor to win Coach of the Year last year, but I would have traded that if we could have had more playoff success and a great run, so, that's what we want to do this year.
Absolutely. One more question for you, Coach: I'm curious, as you're gearing up for that championship run, what do you think is going to be the key for you guys this year?
I think across the board for the entire league, pitching is going to be what dictates who goes where this year. As you look up and down rosters, some teams brought in some really really good arms. Hopefully I'm not done adding arms! I got a guy from independent ball that hopefully can play for us...he's waiting to see if his season is going to get canceled. I’ve got another legit D1 arm that maybe got drafted, but he also maybe didn't get drafted, so he's got to talk to his coaches about what he needs to do. But I think the teams I can stack up on the most on pitching are going to be the ones that have the most success.
And you feel pretty good about your pitching this year?
I do! We have a lot of guys a lot of guys that can throw, but again it's getting them back into the groove. They haven't thrown off a pitcher's mound since mid-March! But, we can figure that out, I think we'll be good.
Well, Coach, we're really looking forward to seeing the Shockers back out there this year! And thank you so much for your time, I really appreciate it.
Of course! I appreciate it, I'm more than willing to help the RCBL out in any way I can.
By Leyton Pullin
The Grottoes Cardinals had a less than stellar finish to 2019 losing their last nine en route to a league worst 9-19 record but General Manager and former head coach Bobby Swink seemed optimistic when talking about what 2020 had to offer. “We got kinda like a ‘Core Four’ that have been here since I started here which is Jacob Merica, Dylan Nicely, David Wood, and Keegan [Woolford]… they’ve all played prominent roles in my three years here.” Woolford returns from a season a year ago where he topped the RCBL hitting charts with a .484 batting average, 4 home runs, and 26 runs batted in. Woolford comes off a COVID-19 shortened season at Shenandoah University in which he only played 12 games but had 5 homeruns 20 RBIs and was hitting a solid .463 making him definitely on of the players to watch in 2020. Living up to their nickname the rest of the “Core Four” aren’t too shabby either with EMU’s Jacob Merica coming off of a solid 17 game season with the Royals where he hit his first career homerun, Dylan Nicely comes off a 2019 season in which he knocked in 23 runs, and David Wood who had a stellar 2019 at the plate as well hitting .422.
When asked about some new additions to the veteran lead ball club Swink said their focus was right up the middle, “We’ve been trying to get stable up the middle on the infield for the last couple of years and we’ve got a couple of guys we feel like can help with that.” Swink mentioned former Wilson Memorial talent Gage Wood coming from Ferrum and Bridgewater Eagle Isiah Blanks. Both Blanks and Wood just finished their freshman year at their respective ODAC institutions both not getting much playing time due to the shortened season. Another name Swink mentioned was the return of another Bridgewater Eagle Tucker Garrison a left-handed pitcher out of Spotswood High School who made four appearances for the Eagles and put up a 3-0 record with 14 punchouts. The last name Swink mentioned was that of Cam Irvine who had been with the team previously but is set to make his return to the red and black this summer.
The biggest change for the Cardinals this year won’t be the plethora of young talent coming in but the change at the manger position as Tim Nicely will take over for now General Manager Bobby Swink. Swink had high praises for Nicely as he was his assistant for the past three seasons. Nicely, a former Grottoes Cardinal himself, played college baseball at Bridgewater College and is a local baseball figure when it comes to Grottoes as he owns The Batting Cave indoor baseball facility in Grottoes.
Nicely and the Cardinals will open their season with a double header at Montezuma as they’ll square off with the Braves starting at 5pm on June 27.
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