It has been a spectacular spring for the 13U and 14U Ruffnecks teams. Team hitting sessions at the Facility continue to augment regular Thursday practices. Both the 13U and 14U teams have played in regular weekend games and tournaments. Nevertheless, it is the evolution of our competitive and developmental model that distinguishes the spring “curriculum” for 13U and 14U Ruffnecks. The design/intent is to build schedules for the 13U and 14U teams that are compatible with careful planning of game lineups and pitching. The 13U Ruffnecks challenge themselves by playing in some 14U events. They hold their own and do a commendable job of staying competitive. The 14U Ruffnecks roster is missing several 9th grade players to high school baseball. Rather than binding ourselves to a weekend schedule of doubleheaders, the program has arranges a mix of weekend opponents with several prep JV and freshman squads. The roster for prep JV games are prioritized for the 14U players, but they are also combined efforts with 13U players joining the action and getting valuable experience. The Ruffnecks have scheduled games with Deerfield Academy, Dexter-Southfield, Phillips Andover, Roxbury Latin, and St. Mark’s School. Some are mid-week games and some are weekends. Playing high school level opponents is great preparation meets our objectives for competitive/developmental baseball. The model continues to evolve, and for the Ruffnecks program, it works!
The 13U Ruffnecks took home the Silver Bracket Championship in the 14U Slugfest Tournament May 14-15. The team put together a good run in winning three out of four games. Josh Jordi got the ‘Necks off to a good start on the mound in Game 1. Nuri Gutman threw a no-hitter in the semifinals. Al Cooper pitched 6 innings in the championship. Defensive play continues to improve with the experience. The infield, beset by some injuries, showed great resilience. Alex Made, Devin Constantino, and Leo Sacerdote played all three games without substitution! Catchers Andrew Plante and Logan Katz did a terrific job. Hitting contributions came from the entire lineup. The 13’s continue to play in a mix of tournaments and with some of the 14’s in mid-week games against some Prep JV teams. With two full months of baseball still in front of them, the 13U Ruffnecks are poised to continue their growth and development
The 14U Ruffnecks showed well in several early tournaments. They continue their spring journey with games against Prep JV teams through the third week of May. As we approach Memorial Weekend the Ruffnecks prepare to become a competitive tournament team. Several of the events after Memorial Day are 15U events. These will challenge and benefit the 14’s as they ready themselves for the uptick in level of play that high school baseball will present a year from now. The pitching has been led by Jett Little and Max Monahan. Lefties Ryan Ruggiero and Ronan Sullivan have been effective. Cole DeFina, Jackson Fulginite, and Tucker Bliss have also contributed solid innings. The lineup shows good potential. The return of infielder Garrett Falahee provides depth and another good bat. The infield has been very solid defensively with William Broderick and William Goggin anchoring the middle. Jackson Fulginite has played well at 3B. Owen Callahan has returned to the lineup and catching duties after on off-season injury. We look forward to the return of Talen Rosborough and Duke Ciongoli for the summer. The 14U Ruffnecks have really embraced the plan for playing mid-week JV games. The experience has been invaluable.
Ready or not, here we go! The 13U and 14U Ruffnecks opened the 2022 season at Diamond Nation in Flemington, New Jersey, March 19-20. Both teams played in the 14U Spring Invitational. It is the first time in three years that the young ‘Necks opened the season on time. The trip to Diamond Nation has long been a traditional trek for the Ruffnecks in March. Over the past 15 years, occasionally weather got in the way. The past two years… well, we know what got in the way!
The 14U Ruffnecks got played three games during their opening weekend. The coaching staff scripted the pitching to cover the three scheduled games. The objective was to get a feel for the mound, game action, and to work toward a command of the strike zone. Defensively, the weekend was an opportunity to get the rust out of our gloves… and the Ruffnecks were, indeed, rusty! The lack of field preparation resulted in giving the opponents more outs than they earned. Meanwhile, the benefits of our work in the new Ruffnecks Facility showed in productive at-bats up and down the lineup. The 14U Ruffnecks had no trouble scoring runs. The club did a great job of playing every inning hard. Once they tighten up the defense and lengthen the pitchers, this team could be quite good. These were “Spring Training” games and valuable to start the season. Our objectives were met in the competitive framework of the Diamond Nation event.
In what was a beautiful Saturday, March 19th with temperatures in the 70’s, the 13U Ruffnecks were looking forward to their opening game at 6:30pm. Great weather gave way to gathering thunderstorms. Three innings, and approximately one hour, into the first game, the skies opened! The game resumed briefly, but after three official innings the score was official, 9-0 for the 14U opponents. Nevertheless, the 13’s got a taste of game experience on the big field. The value of playing older opponents was evident in the situation that resulted from the balls put in play. Well, rain delays are part of baseball, and the 13U Ruffnecks received a full dose of RAIN. For the remainder of the evening, from 7:30pm to 10:00pm the 13U Ruffnecks hunkered in the dugout awaiting a resumption of play. By 8:30, the tournament directors moved on to the next game. After a brief start, that game also was thrown into a rain delay. By 10:00pm it was all over. The 13U Ruffnecks still got a lot out of the experience on Saturday. The rain delay offered time to laugh, get to know each other, and to talk some baseball in the dugout. On Sunday, the 13U Ruffnecks played a run-rule shortened game in an 11-0 defeat. Although we only played 7 innings in two days, the experience helped get their feet wet.
Since December 1, Ruffnecks of all ages benefited from access to The Facility. It has been a home to the program like never before, providing nearly unrestricted access for hitters to do their work and training. Team hitting sessions for the 13U and 14U Ruffnecks were productive, instructive, and valuable. The Facility has also been the center for pitchers’ preparation with Ace Adams. Our hope for the entire program is that the Facility remains a constant part of player preparation and team workouts. Hitting, side sessions, and video review will all be a part of our curriculum at the Facility.
NCAA Division I College Baseball opened the 2022 season the weekend of February 18-20, and Ruffnecks alumni are playing. Presidents Weekend is the traditional start for the majority of Division I baseball programs throughout the country. Some conferences, such as the IVY League start later. New England schools such as Northeastern University, Holy Cross, and Boston College travel south and west to compete. Division III program tend to begin in the first few weeks of March. But baseball is underway… even as MLB continues its lockout.
A number of former Ruffnecks can be found in the lineups and on the rosters of some notable schools. For example, Tommy Seidl, a graduate of Harvard University, is currently playing out his collegiate career at the University of Alabama. Seidl lost two season of IVY baseball to the Covid shutdown. He got the start on opening day for Alabama in the outfield. Tommy’s brother, Billy Seidl, continues his pitching career at Duke University. Billy Seidl and Coach Kevin Graber met in the Cape Cod League several times this past summer. Seamus Barrett continues his journey at Louisville where he is expected to contribute to the mound staff. Evan Sleight has found a home in the Big10 at Rutgers University where he has made an impact in the lineup for the Scarlet Knights. In the Patriot League, hurler Will Greer tossed 7 superb innings in Bucknell University’s opener. Jake McCosker is scheduled to pitch for Holy Cross in the final game of a 4 game series with the Troy (AL) Trojans. He is joined on the Holy Cross roster by freshmen Trevor Neff and Tommy Leimkuhler. Both rookies saw action in the opening weekend. Neff threw four scoreless innings in his debut. Veteran outfielder Joe Simourian continues his regular role for the United States Naval Academy (Navy). The senior has been a four-year contributor. Northeastern University battles to move forward as one of the premier programs in our region. Several players play instrumental roles at NU. Spenser Smith is the short stop, and both catchers, JP Olson and Teddy Beaudet are former Ruffnecks. Current Ruffnecks coach and professional player Scott Holzwasser graduated from Northeastern in 2021. Aidan Harrington begins his freshman season at Boston College where the Eagles compete in the ACC.
Of course there are others at schools that have not yet started their seasons. Ruffnecks alums populate the rosters at the University of Massachusetts, Princeton University, and numerous Division II and III programs throughout the Northeast and elsewhere. Eric Giarnese begins his first season at Assumption, and travels to Rollins College in Florida where he will compete against Joey Rubin. Jack Beverly is on the comeback trail at Lincoln Trail College in Illinois and has several games under his belt. We wish all our Ruffnecks alums success and good health in their 2022 seasons. Any omission or failure to mention players is an unintentional oversight.
We hoped the new Ruffnecks Facility would benefit Ruffnecks players, and especially hitters, but the overall impact is far greater. The Ruffnecks return to a culture where our players can come and go freely, get their work in, be with teammates, and simply get better. The Facility is foremost for hitters. There is no doubt about that. Nevertheless Pitching Coordinator, Ace Adams has also made good use of the space and the dimensions in Tunnel #1. Ace can be seen working with pitchers two to three days a week. His instruction focuses on the little things that need attention during the cold days of winter: Feel, spinning the ball, grips, and body movement. No gimmicks, just good information and sound direction for pitchers. Every day, after school, and into the evenings, Ruffnecks can be found in The Facility hitting and enjoying the work. Routines, routines, routines. The place is a haven for routines.
The Facility has transformed our 13U and 14U regular Team Hitting sessions. Unhurried, and with instructors from the college ranks, and Ruffnecks coaches at all levels, the youngest of Ruffnecks hitters are seeing rapid development in their swings. Again, information is plentiful and the opportunity to get better is at every hitting station and in every session. Greg Sullivan, Boston College coach, has attended several 13U and 14U sessions. Kevin Graber, Head Varsity Baseball Coach at Phillips Andover, conducted the January 22nd session for the 14U Ruffnecks. On Sunday, January 30th, the Winter Workouts officially get underway with Team Hitting sessions for position players on the 15U, 16U, and 17U rosters.
Hitting Clinics & Pitching Appointments
The Facility opened for Ruffnecks on December 11th. In the course of six weeks the program has hosted two successful Pro Scout Hitting Clinics (filled to capacity). In addition to the Pro Scout Clinics, there is a Hitter’s Boot Camp (limited to 6 hitters) that spans five Monday nights in January and early February. More are being considered as we crawl through the winter months in anticipation of Spring and Summer seasons. During the next two months every Ruffnecks pitcher is scheduled for two appointments with Ace Adams. The purpose is to monitor what each pitcher is doing on his own and to provide guidance (less or more) for thoughtful preparation.
Most of all, The Facility is ours. Uncluttered, familiar, and home. It is a place where baseball is spoken, enjoyed, and the Ruffnecks culture grows. No false hustle or sales pitch. Non-commercial. Just our own place to use as much as we want. We are fortunate, indeed.
Tons of swings. Information flowing freely from professional scouts and instructors. Active Listening. Watching peer ballplayers with the same purpose go about their business of getting better. Honest engagement with breaking down and building up a hitter’s swing. All of this was on display as a Ruffnecks-Only two day Pro Scout hitting clinic commenced December 28-29 at the new Facility. Led by New York Yankees Area Scout Matt Hyde, twenty-eight Ruffnecks, in two sessions of 14 hitters each, participated in a “laboratory approach” to hitting. As former All-Star Red Sox catcher (and current Sox hitting instructor) Rich Gedman said, “This is special. Serious kids taking time with their swings in December.” Boston Red Sox Area Scout Ray Fagnant joined Geddy and Matt Hyde on the staff along with Ruffnecks coach John Brickley, Brian Muenzner, and Scott Holzwasser (Ruffnecks alum; Northeastern ’21; Currently in pro ball).
So what was so “special?” For one thing, the atmosphere was exciting. Young Ruffnecks mixed in groups with older Ruffnecks. In fact, groups were organized by left-handed and right-handed hitters as the primary consideration. So 13 year olds and 14 year old players found themselves hitting next to players who are a step away from college… some with the pro scouts’ eyes on them for Area Code or future considerations. And while no hitter in the building is close to being a “complete hitter,” as the coaches spoke about, everyone is putting in the time and effort. The sound in the building was exciting as well. Everyone hit with wood. At times, the sounds were explosive as balls jumped off some older players’ bats. One Ruffneck player summed up the excitement for himself. “The conversations with the coaches were ‘real’ and not just ‘good job kid.’ They talked to us like pros.” That alone is exciting to serious, aspiring hitters.
Since the Pro Scout Hitting is designed for and offered directly to Ruffnecks players, the bar for expectations is high. It is easy to manage for instructors and players. Everyone can see a little bit of themselves in other Ruffnecks… Either in a glimpse of where they once were, or where they want to get to. The encouragement, like the instruction, is real. The organization extends a sincere thank you to the very professional instructors. The engagement, information, and shared experiences were sincere and incomparable.
Week of May 16-22
Facility is Open Daily
9:00 to 6:00
Monday, May 16
at Roxbury Latin Frosh
Wednesday, May 18
at Dexter JV
Thursday, May 19
at Roxbury Latin
Weekend of May 21-22
In 13U Border Battle
Weekend of May 21-22
In 14U Border Battle