We are grateful to the hundreds of players who have worn the Ruffnecks uniform since 2023. Not much has changed, in fact nothing, about the uniform in 20 years. But there has been a positive evolution for our program and culture in two decades. We owe a debt of gratitude to many coaches, benefactors, parents, friends, teammates. Indeed, what endures is gratitude for the memories and friendships. It is, after all, about playing baseball with others who share a love for the game and the same passion for excellence. To paraphrase President Kennedy (out of context), we choose to do it, not because it is easy, but because it is hard. The reward is the time we spend together. Baseball is a hard game to be good at. Teammates and friends help in times of frustration or setbacks; likewise, they are there to share the moments of glory in the summer sunshine.
Founded in 2003, the Ruffnecks program was transformed in 2007 with the support of Stuart and Susan Porter. The Porters had two boys, Stuey and Jack, go through the program in the first decade of our history. Their continued support over the past decade has had an immeasurable impact on the life and fortunes of the program. Despite rumors, Ruffnecks fees and costs are among the lowest tuitions for comparable club programs anywhere in the country. This is due to the generosity of the Porters. Not only have the Porters supported the Ruffnecks, but Stu Porter partnered with the founder of the Ruffnecks to form New England Baseball Enterprises to build the New England Baseball Complex in 2013. The company still owns the complex, though the rights to management of the fields has been leased. Nevertheless, a grateful Ruffnecks community and, by extension, the entire New England youth baseball community, would do well to offer thanks to the Porters.
The Families and players on all five Ruffnecks teams enjoyed another memorable season in 2023. The 13u Ruffnecks became enmeshed in the traditions and culture with ease. Their use of the “The Facility” began in earnest last fall. Currently the rising 14u team, many of these players can be found in The Facility regularly. The 2023 14U team (now rising 15’s) experienced success early and often. They won a spring tournament and competed well in several others. The older three Ruffnecks teams worked all winter of 2023 in Pro Scout Hitting sessions, individual hitting, Winter Workouts at Boston College, and in pitcher preparation with Ace Adams. Following high school and prep seasons, the 15’s, 16’s, and 17’s resumed “pre-season” workouts at the NEBC in early June. Then they embarked on an exhaustive, yet exhilarating, two months of every-day baseball. All three teams finished at the Tournament of Champions in Ohio, with the 16’s and 17’s qualifying for the top tier playoff brackets. The 17u/Seniors made it to the last day and the championship game.
We are grateful for many wonderful coaches through the years. Coaches such as John Brickley, Kirk Fredericks, Kevin Graber, Ted Novio, Steve Zerdelian have spent more than 10 seasons of our 20 year history working with Ruffnecks players. Their efforts are greatly appreciated. One former pitching coach, Matt Blake (7 years with Ruffnecks) is now the pitching coach for the New York Yankees. On the other end of the age spectrum, we have the privilege of learning from Ace Adams as our current pitching coach. With over 30 years in Major League Baseball, Ace brings great value to the Ruffnecks experience. In 2023 we were fortunate to have three Caseys in our dugouts. Legendary John Casey joined his two sons, Kevin and Brendan on the coaching staff. Again… Our thanks.
Finally, nothing happens without the dedication of fine ballplayers and the support of caring families. We are ever grateful for the families who populate our rosters each year. Our new 13u class for 2024 is ready to join the family. We thank our families for doing all they can to support the players, the program, and our coaches. On to the Banquet Monday, December 18th. And then… to our 3rd decade in 2024!
The Fall in New England presents some of the finest weather of the year… just not on the weekends during September of 2023! It has been a rainy fall, but the Ruffnecks program has managed to soldier through it with few cancellations. At the core of our Fall Baseball philosophy is the belief that athletes should play other fall sports. Accordingly, we confine activity to weekends-only with options for returning players and others to play, mostly on Sundays. We also conduct our annual 13U Fall Baseball Development program.
The 13u Fall Baseball Program is our signature offering to rising 13u players making the transition to the “Big Diamond.” We do not hold tryouts; we simply begin the process of teaching the game layer-by-layer, in a six week developmental program that begins in early September and runs through the end of October. It has been said that “Talent is elastic, and particularly so in team sports.” Since baseball skills and talent are not fixed commodities, players of varying levels of ability, size, and knowledge of the game, find themselves learning and challenged during the 13u Fall Baseball Program. Drill work is quickly paced. Specific positional skills are worked in a sytematic process. Team concepts are layered weekly to put the pieces of skill development together with a greater understanding of the game on a field that has significantly more real estate to cover than what most 12 year olds experienced. Relays, communication, catching and throwing, running, leads, fly balls, ground balls… nothing is too ordinary to cover.
Despite the increase in choices, pressure to commit to other teams, and fear of missing out, 35 eager 13 year olds enjoy the weekly program on Sundays. Get better each week… That is the primary objective.
For players with at least one year experience on the full sized diamond, we offer the High School Wood Bat program. The program is focused on weekly Red vs. Blue games accompanied by modest, instructive, pre-game and in-game coaching. Usually, a pre-game concept is presented for review, such as relays, or an infield/outfield. Red vs. Blue games are conducted to manage pitching opportunities responsibly. We believe one or two innings per week is all a pitcher should throw during the fall. The purpose is to maintain and develop “feel” for pitches and to work deliberately.
The College Prep Program is for slightly more advanced players, most of whom either already play varsity high school baseball or are on the cusp of competing for varsity. The College Prep Red vs. Blue games also have instructive focus. There are also some opportunities to play in the NEBC College Prep Fall Baseball league games. We use the HS Wood Bat and College Prep programs to shuffle rosters on a weekly basis, mixing returning players with candidates and others who wish to sample the Ruffnecks experience.
All three of the oldest Ruffnecks traveled to the Tournament of Champions in Cincinnati, Ohio August 1-6. This is the third consecutive year the Ruffnecks finished their summer season at the TOC. The experience of having all three teams together, in the hotel, eating together, and traveling daily to games in team buses is one of the hallmarks of our program.
The 16U Ruffnecks continued their quest to get better each and every day. After a disappointing opening game 5-5 tie, the Ruffnecks hit and pitched their way to three consecutive wins and the #4 overall seed. Jeremy Krendel, Owen Ellsworth, Jett Little, and Lorcan Lee all sparkled on the mound, with Ellsworth throwing a shutout. Lee sealed the Ruffnecks hold on a top seed with a 5-1 complete game win. Drew Reagan has provided some offensive power, along with some timely hitting. The outfield defense has been led by the superlative play of Will Forman, Bryce Larco, and Sean Watts.
After a rocky start, the 17U Ruffnecks made it to the Diamond Playoff Bracket with two solid wins. The ‘Necks found themselves on the short end of a 6-5 walkoff defeat in Game #1. They lost the lead late in Game #2, but held on for the tie. With no forgiveness left in the schedule, the Ruffnecks needed to win out. Aiden Barclay has led the way with 3 triples and 3 doubles. His bat has been a catalyst for the offense. Jeremy Auren, James Henshon, and Nolan Colby both continue to provide sparks to the offense. Tommy Hennessey has done a fabulous job in the infield. The pitching staff continues to compete. Starters Ian Keusch, James Henshon, John Hegarty, and Matthew deBenedictus have all delivered effective outings.
In the first playoff game the Ruffnecks upended the #2 seed in a 3-0 victory. Brady Lane pitched a complete game and was masterful on the mound. He kept opposing hitters off balance and pitched his way out of trouble with the help of some fine infield defense. Nolan Colby and Tommy Hennessey played air tight infield, while turning two big double plays. Colby, James Henshon, Jeremy Auren, and Nick Andersen led the offense with two hits apiece. The 17’s made it to the quarterfinals where they faced off against a formidable Louisville Legends squad. After falling behind 3-0 in the bottom of the 1st inning, the Ruffnecks scored 3 in the top of the 2nd to tie the score. Nick Andersen had a big double and James Henshon contributed an RBI. The ‘Necks again fell behind 4-3 in the 4th, but rallied for 4 runs in the 5th to take a 7-4 lead. Devin Hunt would make that score stand with dominant pitching in relief. Nolan Bibbo gave the team a sound start.
On Sunday, August 6th at Miami of Ohio, the Senior Ruffnecks found a way to play themselves into the last possible game of the season. In the semifinal game Ian Keusch took the ball against a formidable opponent in the Louisville Vipers. He responded with a complete game 4-3 victory. Nick Andersen drove in the winning run in the top of the 6th with a line double. In the championship, “Playoff Dan” MacLean got the nod and pitched valliantly. The Ruffnecks fell short against the Richmond Braves in a 5-3 exciting championship contest.
The concept of challenging oneself is not new. The 15U Ruffnecks season is designed to challenge the players and the team with a plan that can, at times be uncomfortable, and is almost always difficult. The 15U season is a transition in the context of the Ruffnecks program. We chase opportunities to elevate the tempo, attention to detail, and the demands of playing “clean” baseball. The 15u schedule has few, if any, easy moments. Not every 15u roster can meet the challenge. It is not for anxious or results-oriented players and families. Nevertheless, it is uncommon for the 15U Ruffnecks to achieve the kind of success they experienced in the 17u/18u Summer Classic July 23-27.
The 15U Ruffnecks entered the 17u/18u Summer Classic at the tail end of a stretch in which the team played eleven out of twelve consecutive days, the sole “off day” a rainout at the Boston College Team Camp. In the first game of the tournament, the ‘Necks found a way to grind out a comeback, 7-5 win against a 17u opponent that was more physical and experienced. Cole DeFina started on the mound and gave the Ruffnecks a great effort. Ronan Sullivan got the win in relief. The defense was solid behind a tight infield of William Goggin, Garrett Falahee, and William Broderick. Bear Adams anchored 1B (for the entire event). In the second game of pool play, Dylan Muccini was unhittable on the mound as the 15’s raced out to an impressive 8-1 victory against a less challenging opponent. Rain, lightning, tournament format changes, and other unexpected disruptions plagued the event during the week. After achieving a 2-0 record in “pool play,” The Ruffnecks found themselves in the confusing position of being one of only two teams asked to play a third pool play game in order to advance to the playoff round. In other words, they had to win, go 3-0, and beat a formidable opponent to play “bonus” baseball. Jon Condlin started on the mound and gave the Ruffnecks a gritty start. Angus McKenna contributed in relief, and Garrett Falahee got the save as “closer.” Again the defense was excellent. The lineup found ways to get timely hits. The catching duo of Talen Rosborough and Owen Callahan showed their experience and leadership the entire tournament. The outfield of Ryan Ruggiero, Jackson Fulginite, Jack Weireman, and Ronan Sullivan were outstanding. Michael Fiengo contributed with his bat and infield defense.
After finishing at 9:30pm on Wednesday night the ‘Necks faced a worthy, mature, and physical opponent at 8:00am on Thursday morning July 27th. Ryan Ruggiero took the ball and pitched five outstanding innings, exiting with a 4-2 lead. The game was an intense, well played contest that provided an unexpected challenge to a decidedly more experienced and talented 17u team. The Ruffneck forced their opponent to the brink as the tying and go ahead runs crossed the plate in the 7th inning. Alas, the 15u Ruffnecks bowed out in a 5-4 loss to the eventual Chmpionship Game finalists. It was a great effort from a group of players working to get better every day. Congrats.
Both the 13u and 14u Ruffnecks traveled July 12-16 to Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky for the CABA World Series. The 13u Ruffnecks played in the 14u division of the CABA World Series, while the 14u Ruffnecks played in the 15u division. The teams did very well.
The 13’s started slowly dropping their first two games in disappointing fashion against 14u opponents. The third game of pool play also finished with a loss, but there was something different about the game. The ‘Necks found a way to compete against an opponent that was the leader of the pool. After battling to take a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the 7th inning, the 13’s could not hold onto the victory and lost 4-3 in a walk-off defeat. Nevertheless, the game was a turning point for the tournament. The Ruffnecks went on a 3 game winning streak, including a decisive 5-0 shutout effort against the very same team that hooted and hollared in the 4-3 walk-off disappointment just days earlier. Quinn Healey was dominant on the mound and the defense backed him up with all the plays. Among the highlights of the tournament, were Liam Eder-Linnell’s one hitter in a night game at Miami of Ohio University. John MacLean and JT Taylor both had inside the park home runs. To say that the 13’s performed in a complete team effort is not enough to describe the success of the trip. Even a championship game defeat could not dampen the effort and feeling of accomplishment for an outstanding 13u season.
The 14u Ruffnecks took their game to Ohio expecting to compete against older competition. They found success. A decisive first game 9-1 victory got the team rolling in the right direction. In the second game of the tournament the Ruffnecks fell 6-4 to a worthy opponent in a hard fought contest. The catching duo of Logan Katz and Andrew Plante played well the entire week, managing a pitching staff that also battled every game. Outstanding outings by Alistair Cooper, Angus McKenna, Leo Sacerdote, Sam Carbeau, Kaden McNeice,and Matthew Howell gave the Ruffnecks a chance each and every game. Up and down the lineup hitters contributed along with solid defense. The infield of Grady Walsh, Devin Constantino, and Andrew Palmer saw plenty of action. The outfiled was anchored by Nuri Gutman, Albin Valdez, Nick O’Neil, Sam Carbeau, and Matthew Howell. Kaden McNeice, Angus McKenna, and Alistair Cooper split duties at 1B. The 14u Ruffnecks advanced to the semifinals of the event. In a controversial rain-delayed game, the ‘Necks were declared the winner, before being called at the hotel to resume the game 6 hours later. Unfortunately, the outcome was reversed after the resumption of the game. Nonetheless, it was a good, final, event for a successful 14u season.
Both teams capped off the trip with an enjoyable outing at the Cincinnati Reds game on Saturday, July 15th. The parents hosted both teams in the Bally Club with all-you-can-eat accommodations. Thank you to both groups for a wonderful finish to th 2023 season.
Week of Dec. 4-10
Sunday, Dec. 3
Open Hitting All Day
10:00am to 6:00pm
Monday, Dec. 4
2:00pm to Close
Tuesday, Dec. 5
2:00pm to Close
15U Team Meeting
Wednesday, Dec. 6
2:00pm to Close
Gedman Catcher Clinic
5:30 & 6:30
Thursday, Dec. 7
2:00pm to Close
Friday, Dec. 8
2:00pm to Close
Saturday, Dec. 9
10:00am to 5:00pm
Sunday, December 10
Pro Scout Hitting Clinic
8:30am to 10:00
10:30am to Noon
Open Hitting follows to 5:00pm