Once the clouds parted during the week of July 18-23, the 16u Ruffnecks had a chance to put together an impressive run, all the way to the Championship of the 16U Underclass World Series. It has been 31 games in 34 days for this group of Ruffnecks… “Every Day Baseball is a challenge, and the 16’s have managed to get that much baseball played in a month where rain has dwarfed sunshine!
In the course of a long season, there are ebbs and flows to lineups, individual, and team performances. But teams do not succeed without contributions from everyone. And the 16’s have demonstrated this over the past two weeks. The 16’s returned from Georgia and the 17u Perfect Game WWBA on July 12. The level of competition at the WWBA served them well. Following an impressive 4 win Boston Invitational “tune up,” the 16u Ruffnecks withstood a challenge in the first game of the Underclass World Series, grinding out a 3-2 victory. They followed with three consecutive pool play wins to earn the #1 seed in the playoff round of 8 teams. On Friday, July 23, the team played three games on the way to a satisfying 7-3 Championship Game win. Pitching and defense is always important, and the contributions from everyone on the pitching staff are too numerous to mention. Of note, Teo Spadaccini performed well in the championship game, and earned the win. Jack Sokhos-Drude came in to close the quarterfinal game in a tight 6-4 win. The offense was steady with contributions up and down the lineup. Of particular note on defense was the outfield play of Daniel Sullivan and Max Gomez. They have been the glue in the outfield, regularly making hard plays look routine, and sprinkling in the “highlight” play when needed. These are difference makers, and are much appreciated by pitchers and teammates. Congrats to the 16’s on a successful run.
The 17U Ruffnecks hit the road for two successive, demanding, trips. They begin in Arizona July 26-31 at the 17U Perfect Game World Series, which is played at the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers spring training facilities. The event is an invite-only event for 35 teams, many from the West Coast, Texas, and Arizona. It is highly competitive. Follow the action on the Perfect Game link. The “Senior ‘Necks” return on July 31 and after a quick dose of home cooking, get right back on the road at the Tournament of Champions in Cincinnati, Ohio. It is a demanding 3 weeks for the 17’s
A last minute opportunity to get into the Tournament of Champions, provides a chance for the 15U Ruffnecks to join the 17U team in Ohio! A committed group of players and coaches, along with supportive parents, came together to pull this trip together in less than 24 hours! The 15’s were washed out of nearly half their games at the 16U Perfect Game WWBA in Georgia. They are itchy to get another chance to experience the road and competition in another part of the country. The Cincinnati trip provides just that chance. Indeed, the 15U Ruffnecks participate in ALL 17u and 18u events for the final three weeks of the season. It is a challenge, but the group is excited and ready.
Coming off their trip to South Carolina, the 13’s and 14’s are using a combined roster to play in several local events. Their season officially ends July 28. Pitchers Jeremy Krendel, Owen Ellsworth, and Brendan Norton are participating with the 15U and 16U teams through the end of of those seasons. All part of the Ruffnecks way!
Ruffnecks teams from 13U to 16U hit the road for trips to the South beginning in early July. The travel started with the 16U Ruffnecks heading to the 17U Perfect Game WWBA in Marietta, Georgia. Playing in an event that is one age classification “up” presents its own set of challenges. After a disappointing “doubleheader day” the first day of the event, the 16U ‘Necks settled into a rhythm and improved steadily over the course of the week long event. The team finished with a 4-2-1 record, which is impressive considering the two losses on Day #1. John Milewski, Max Gomez, Daniel Sullivan, and Huxley Holcombe led the Ruffnecks offense. Jack Sokhos-Drude, Teo Spadaccini, and Dante LeRoy had strong outings on the mound. Most important was the opportunity for this group to get away from New England after a year hiatus. The team effort, living and eating together, and the level of competition provided invaluable perspective and experience to aspiring college players, most of whom are in the class of 2023. Coach Fredericks’ squad turns attention to several events in the New England Region over the next month. The coaching staff welcomes the addition of former Ruffneck Tom Novick for the remainder of the season to work with pitchers.
The 15U Ruffnecks headed South on Wednesday, July 15 to participate in the 16U Perfect Game WWBA in Marietta, GA. The 15’s got off to a strong start with two lopsided wins on their first day of action. In their third game of the week-long event they faltered in a 10-9 loss that puts them in a tough position to advance from pool play. They face the nationally ranked South Charlotte Panthers on Saturday, July 17. Offensively, the Ruffnecks continue to be productive. Nick Andersen, Isaac Lamson, and Aiden Barclay lead the team through three games in RBI with 6, 5, and 4 respectively. Nolan Colby is leading the team in hitting and slugging. The Ruffnecks got good starts from James Dyalchand-Ericson and Nolan Bibbo in Games 1 and 2. The trip is the first in two years for a group of Ruffnecks that has both defensive and offensive talent, speed, and a lot of enthusiasm.
Both the 16U Ruffnecks and the 15U Ruffnecks are well cared for in Georgia. Traveling Secretary and administrative assistant Jackie Pelc is camped in Georgia for two weeks. She prepares, cooks, and serves nutritious and sumptuous meals daily. The boys happily have food that is healthy. Her work is very much appreciated. A steak dinner even made the menu!
The Ruffnecks provide a unique travel experience, and it begins with the July trip for 13’s and 14’s into the heat of the South. For the past 11 years our traditional trip has been to Nashville, Tennessee for the 14U CABA World Series. Both the 13’s and the 14’s participate in the 14U Division of the event. In 2021 the program had to pivot to Charleston, South Carolina for the 14U CABA Wood Bat World Series. It turned out to be a terrific trip. Both teams played hard, yet struggled with the demands of the heat and humidity. But this is part of the journey. Staying together as a team, in the hotel, riding in vans, under the supervision of Ruffnecks coaches… it all requires learning how to prepare and take care of oneself. Each team played 5 games over the four day event. And while neither team managed to get to the championship round, it was an experience the players will always remember. Both squads even squeezed in a day at the South Carolina beach. The important thing is that the young ‘Necks learned about baseball on the road, 24/7, and the demands of the heat. A significant dose of fun helps the process. Both teams enjoyed home cooked meals, healthy lunches and full breakfasts. Of course, they also experienced the traditional Waffle House experience upon arrival to cut into that appetite that follows a long day of travel!
Meanwhile, the 17U Ruffnecks prepare for a trip to the 17U Perfect Game World Series in Surprise, Arizona July 26-31. Based on current forecasts the team can expect temperatures above 100 each day. Follow the updates and action through the tournament link on the team page and in the “Announcements” box on the home page of this website.
The journey back to “normal” continues for Ruffnecks at every level. Tournament activity has been brisk at the NEBC. All Ruffnecks teams have competed well. Late June through the Fourth of July weekend saw a mix of regional travel and a healthy does of participation in Perfect Game and other events at the NEBC.
The 17U Ruffnecks were the first to travel outside our home base as they attended the Super17 at Diamond Nation in New Jersey, June 21-25. The squad did well going 3-1 at the event (no playoff rounds were scheduled). Getting our pitchers untracked and building a team identity were the primary objectives. The team returned from New Jersey to play a competitive doubleheader at Team Cape Cod. June 28-30 the 17U Ruffnecks played in the 17U PG Super25 at the NEBC. While they did not win their pool to advance, the 17’s went 3-1. Following a rainy Fourth of July weekend, the “Senior ‘Necks” begin a stretch with the Boston Invitational and the highly competitive Boston Open, July 4-5 and July 8-12. July is a busy month leading up to the 17U Perfect Game World Series in Surprize, Arizona. The beginning of August sees the 17’s at the Tournament of Champions in Cincinnati, Ohio.
Cape Cod was the backdrop for the first game of the season for the 16U Ruffnecks. After a tough outing at the Cape, the 16’s jumped right into the 16U PG Super25 at the NEBC. After dropping a 3-0 decision in the first game of Pool Play, the Ruffnecks rattled off 5 consecutive wins to reach the Championship game of the event. Coach Fredericks’ squad followed that effort with a quick turnaround. After finishing the finals at 11:00pm at night on Sunday, June 27, the team played Game 1 of a doubleheader at 8:00am in the 17U PG Super25. The ‘Necks split their doubleheader with a 1-0 loss and a 4-1 victory. Rain washed out Friday and Saturday, July 2-3. The 16U Ruffnecks are in Georgia to compete in the 17U Perfect Game WWBA July 6-12.
Barely two weeks into the summer the 15U Ruffnecks have played 13 games with tremendous success. Over the Fourth of July Weekend the 15U ‘Necks captured the Championship in the 15U Uncle Sam World Series at the NEBC. The team also competed well in the 16U PG Super25 June 25-27, keeping all games close with a 1-2-1 record in pool play. While the “team” did not participate in the 17U PG Super25, much of the roster did so. The pitchers participated on the roster with the 16U Ruffnecks. Several position players joined the 17U squad for the event. It is common for Ruffnecks to combine rosters for certain events, and this played out effectively for members of the 15U Roster over the first few weeks. The 15’s gear up with competition in the 18U Boston Invitational and the 16U Boston Open. Then the team packs up to attend and compete (with enthusiasm) at the 16U Perfect Game WWBA in Marietta, Georgia July 14-20.
Coach Beverly(s) and Coach Suchanek have done a marvelous job preparing and teaching the 14U Ruffnecks. The 14’s have played in one 14U event and two 15U events since summer began. They reached the semifinals in the 14U PG Super25 and again reached the semis at the 15U PG Super25. Over the rainy, Fourth of July weekend the team did admirably well in the 15U Uncle Sam World Series. The transition to playing older competition is fundamental to the 14U Ruffnecks experience. No Ruffnecks team was affected more by the Covid summer of 2020 than this class. They have done a terrific job catching up and earning respect. The 14U Ruffnecks set their sites on the first trip of their careers when they travel to the 14U CABA World Series in Charleston, SC July 9-14.
At times undermanned, the 13U Ruffnecks are learning how to grind out baseball games. The 13U Ruffnecks are a spunky group that has enjoyed a full season of spring, and now, summer baseball. The experience of adapting to the demands of Ruffnecks baseball takes time to evolve. The 13U Ruffnecks have found their way with measures of success and hard lessons. The team found their way into the playoff round in both the 13U PG Super25 and the 14U PG Super25 on consecutive weekends. Additional competition against 14U teams continue to challenge the squad. Fortunately, this 13U class gets to experience the Ruffnecks travel model in their first season. The team is excited to head to Charleston, SC with the 14U squad to participate in the 14U CABA World Series July 9-14. More baseball awaits players on the 13s if they choose to participate in combined roster events with the 14s (and possibly some 15’s) when they return from South Carolina.
Players and programs always search for ways to present and separate themselves. It is the nature of competition. The question for players is how to get noticed. On Thursday, June 17 Ruffnecks from the classes of 2022, 2023, 2024 (and even one 8th grader, class of ’25) awoke early to get to the NEBC by 7:30am for a 5 hour SCOUT DAY that included everything colleges would want to see. This was not a “showcase.” It was a SCOUT DAY… and far more valuable. And none of this would have been possible without the extraordinary facilities (3 fields) of the NEBC.
Position players took a full, five rounds of batting practice. Assembled into two segments, half the position players hit for 50 minutes, while the other half ran 60 times and heard from several pro scouts and college coaches about what scouts look for and evaluate. The two groups then flipped, and did the same in reverse. Pitchers reported at 9:00am to begin preparation with Ace Adams. Close to 9:45 the day transitioned to positional work with outfielders making throws and infielders & catchers conducting a crisp session of the Ruffnecks “Cover Drill,” which we use for development and skill work. It is much faster than a traditional infield/outfield drill and presents infield and catcher skills more efficiently than typical showcase-type formats. Most importantly, all the offensive and defensive skills and abilities of Ruffnecks were on display for the eyes of many college recruiters in attendance. The day culminated with a 7 inning Red vs. Blue game that featured 14 different pitchers who threw one inning each. The game was legit, spirited, and again… presented players who play hard, run hard, enjoy each other.
Ruffnecks began their stretching routine promptly at 7:30am under the supervision of EPS Trainer Brandon Smith, a former MLB strength and conditioning coach. A steady flow of college coaches from the New York-New England region began to arrive. We give a shout out to head coach of Northeastern University, Mike Glavine, who personally attended following a successful run at the NCAA Regionals. More than 25 Division I, II, and III coaches attended. Every one of the 30 printed “Scout Packets” was taken. More were requested! The packets provided player profiles, GPA, test scores, contact information and more.
Four MLB teams were represented: Red Sox, Yankees, Detroit, and Oakland. Matt Hyde of the NY Yankees coordinated the pro scout efforts. Ray Fagnant (Red Sox) added his usual, positive, messages to players. Ron Vaughn (A’s) and Jim Bretz (Tigers) focused on the hitting sessions. They provided on-the-spot feedback, and full evaluations (which they are writing). None of this was ordinary. It was extraordinary. The pro scouts did more than just show up. They actively engaged. As Jim Bretz said to the players and to several Ruffnecks coaches, “We found a number of players here that will certainly be on our ‘Follow List‘ over the next year, two, or three.”
Ruffnecks Coach Toffey roamed among the college coaches, answering questions and gathering feedback. Ace Adams, a veteran pitching coach for over 30 years in the pros, bent the ears of college coaches about the pitchers. And of course, Ruffnecks Coach John Brickley, himself a veteran MLB scout shared information and gathered feedback from scouts and college coaches. Feedback from colleges was overwhelmingly positive. We will do it again in 2022! Without a doubt, we discovered another terrific way to serve Ruffnecks players. Save your money on the next “showcase” that sends an email! What else could an aspiring baseball player ask for other than to present himself in a setting like this?
More than 30 Ruffnecks in the classes of 2022, 2023, and 2024 reported to the NEBC at 7:30 am on Tuesday, June 8 for the start of two weeks of comprehensive workouts… Spring Training style! Utilizing multiple fields at the New England Baseball Complex, players on the oldest three Ruffnecks teams are getting ready to go for a summer of return-to-normal. Two consecutive weeks of three and a half hour time slots provide the foundation for prep work in advance of a long summer of baseball and travel.
The program learned something from the hardships Covid dealt last year. We learned that there is value in hunkering down to take a couple of weeks in early June to go about the business of preparation. Position players take regular batting practice, daily. There is nothing more valuable that to hit on a field with a full complement of screens and plenty of baseballs. For position players, seeing balls-off-bat is an important preparation tool. The Ruffnecks program is blessed with the space and facilities of the NEBC. Multiple fields means that more can be accomplished in a professional setting. Each morning the players are stretched by members of the EPS Northborough staff. The stretching period lasts a full 30 minutes. It is a rigorous start to every session. BP Groups hit while position players get their work in shagging and breaking down skill work with coaches. Pitchers enjoy the banter, work, and information with Ace Adams. All pitchers currently at the workouts have finished their seasons in the past two to three weeks. This means they need to get back into routines and the rhythms of preparing to pitch, pitching in games, and recovery. Several pre-season scrimmage games are also scheduled.
Speaking of pitching, Houston Astros pitching coach Brent Strom made an unannounced visit to the Thursday, June 10 workout. Strom and Ace Adams worked together in the Cardinals, Tigers, and Astros organizations. The two remain close, and Ace quietly asked Brent if he would come to practice to speak with pitchers. It turned out to be more than a pep talk about pitching. Strom spent a couple of hours at practice. He took pitchers to the bullpen, and walked and talked through some important aspects about delivery, arm angles, and pitch selection. Coach Strom presented an incredible amount of information.
Ruffnecks Pre-Season culminates in a scheduled Scout Day on Thursday, June 17. The morning session will be manned by several professional scouts and college coaches from the New York-New England Region. Hitters and position players will have ample opportunity to gather their measurables and present themselves. The program will conduct a Red vs. Blue game in which 14 to 16 pitchers will throw an inning. Indeed, Ruffnecks Pre-Season is put together with considerable thought and a plan. Several college coaches have already roamed in and out of the practices. It is nice when someone with the stature and the baseball “eye” of Brent Strom stops in, and compliments Ruffnecks players by saying “It is good to see a group of ‘old school’ baseball kids go about their business.” We will take that as an endorsement for sound preparation… Spring Training Style.
Week Ahead: July 26-August 1
14U Summer Series
(Rosters Posted On Schedule Page)
Wednesday, July 28
5:00pm at NEBC
18U College Prep 9 Inning Classic
July 29 to August 1
(See Schedule Page)
Northeastern Team Camp
July 27 Workout Day & Game
July 28 Game Only
18U College Prep 9 Inning Classic
July 29 to August 1
(See Schedule Page)
July 26 to July 31
at 17U Perfect Game World Series
(PG World Series Link For Following)