The Ruffnecks put together an amazing run in a competitive pool at the 17U WWBA in Emerson, Georgia in one of the most competitive national events on the calendar. Henry Ennen led a pitching staff that put up a 1.55 ERA over seven pool play games. The showdown took place on Wednesday morning, July 6, in front of nearly 30 college and pro scouts at the East Cobb complex against the East Cobb Astros. Ennen staked the Ruffnecks to a 1-0 lead through six innings in the game that would decide who advanced from pool play to the playoff round. In the top of the 7th, the Astros #3 hitter took a 1-1 fastball over the fence for a solo HR that tied the game. It was a heartbreaking moment, but the Ruffnecks got men on 1st and 2nd in the bottom of the 7th. A competitive at-bat and a hard line drive by Eric Pappas was caught for the final out. The “tie-loss” under the rules of the tournament bumped the Ruffnecks out of the playoff round by the slimmest of margins. The ‘Necks gave up the fewest runs in the pool (13) over 7 games. Ennen pitched 14 innings during the tournament earning tremendous respect. He allowed just 4 hits in 14IP, 1R, no walks, and 19Ks.
The first three games were defined by outstanding starting pitching behind Henry Ennen, Robby Cerulle, and Dylan Presnal. Ennen threw a 1 hit, 10K gem at a strong DBAT team from Texas and Arkansas. In the second game Robby Cerulle lost a no-hit bid in the 7th while throwing just 64 pitches in a 2-0 shutout win. In Game 3 Dylan Presnal gave up one earned run in a 10-2 victory. Owen Batchelder also pitched well in Game 4, he struck out 10 before leaving in the 6th with a 3-2 lead. Unfortunately, the bullpen couldn’t hold, and the Ruffnecks suffered a 5-3 defeat. In Game 5, Will Simeone battled on the mound giving up only 2ER in 5 innings. He threw 81 pitches, with 52 for strikes. He left with a 3-2 lead… just prior to a 12 run 6th inning outburst led by Taylor Beckett’s grand slam, Christian Walsh’s 2R HR, and a 2 run triple by Tyler Cedeno. Beckett also contributed an RBI double in the same inning.
The Ruffnecks put up some impressive numbers. Taylor Beckett and Chris Galland were among the tournament leaders in hitting with over .400 averages. Robbie Cronin hit .375 with a team leading .583 OBP. Beckett, Galland, and Eric Pappas led the way with 8, 7, and 6 RBI respectively. The team hit .267 over the tournament with .368 slugging and a team .400 OBP. Pitching was the story for the Ruffnecks. In addition to Ennen’s impressive performance, Robby Cerulle, Dylan Presnal, Dario Tarquinio, and Owen Batchelder all delivered ERAs of 1.50 or lower. Cerulle barely lost a no hitter (noted above) while Presnal posted a 1.16 ERA. The team played exceptionally well defensively.
Despite the bitter disappointment of losing out on the playoff round, the Ruffnecks validated a national reputation as one of the most competitive teams at the 17U WWBA. The team returns home after a 16 day road trip to participate in the Boston Invitational and the Boston Open, as well as several other events in the northeast.