Old Man Winter followed the Ruffnecks from Massachusetts to New Jersey on March 20th as both the 13U and 14U squads hit the road for Diamond Nation’s 14U Spring Fling. Unfortunately, 3 inches of heavy, wet, snow forced a change in the schedules and a reformatted tournament. Teams played two Pool Play games with records and runs allowed factoring into the playoff format. The delays also forced the playoffs into Sunday late afternoon and evening. Accordingly, the two Ruffnecks teams played their two Pool Play games and declined to participate in the playoff format.
14U Ruffnecks in Strong Showing
The 14U Ruffnecks got off to a fast start for the 2015 season, as they easily won both games by scores of 10-2 and 17-0. The 14s would have been the #2 seed in the playoffs. Strong pitching and plentiful hitting defined the Ruffnecks performance. Newcomer Josh Gruenberg and veteran James Dillon both hit inside-the-park home runs. The pitching truly carried the team as every pitcher contributed one or two innings. The staff shapes up to have considerable depth. The defense was equally solid, especially in consideration of the little time spent outside on fields in preparation for the season. The middle infield was manned primarily by Andrew Hass and Jack Flynn. Colin Blasco made several fine catches in the outfield. Mitch Schroeder caught all the innings behind the plate.
13U Ruffnecks Gain Experience
The 13U ‘Necks got their first taste of action in a 14U event, and they did not back down from the challenge. The 13s had leads in both games, though they lost by margins of 14-7 and 5-2. Nevertheless, getting experience was the primary objective for the weekend, and the 13U Ruffnecks achieved that objective. Pitching surpassed expectations for the youngest Ruffnecks. Randy Reyes pitched well in the opener. At one point, the Ruffnecks held a 5-3 lead. Alas, inexperience in the field led to a 9 run inning that doomed the prospects for an opening day win. The 13s improved significantly in their second outing, falling by a score of 5-2. The defense played with more confidence. Richie McNamara made a spectacular play at SS; Outfielder Will Figueroa threw out a runner at home; and McNamara teamed up with middle infielder Jack Palfrey to turn a 4-6-3 double play to get the team out of a bases loaded jam. Kai Grocki stroked a triple; Tommy Clark claimed the first hit of the year for the 13U Ruffnecks; and Kevin Skagerlind hit the ball well. It was a great opportunity for the newest ‘Necks to get their season under way.
Both teams continue this weekend at the NEBC.