The 2021 Autumn Baseball League kicked off its opening weekend of games yesterday throughout Rhode Island and Massachusetts. I got an opportunity to speak with ABL Founder Herman Bomback on the phone yesterday morning to learn more about the game schedules and the league’s history. Herman has set up a website of the various ABL divisions, schedule of games, standings, rules, and all things Autumn Baseball League at www.autumnbaseballleague.com.
Just recently, I wrote a post about the Rhode Island Devils Baseball organization and wanted to check out one of their games. On the ABL website, teams are scheduled per Herman and his staff, then the individual teams are to coordinate times and field locations with each other. I reached out to the RI Devils Instagram page and found out that the RI Devils (16U) team was playing Vogie (Mt. Hope High School players) at Prete-Metcalf Field, Providence for a Saturday doubleheader starting at 3:30. So, I made plans to attend Game 2 of the doubleheader, which would start around 5:30.
I have visited Prete-Metcalf Field a number of times over the years. The field is located off Hawkins St in Providence. It features two fields (big and small), an awesome playground, and walking track. From my home in North Kingstown, I took Route 4 to Route 95 to Route 146, then took the Branch Ave exit. If you follow Branch Ave up just past the Wanskuck Boys and Girls Club, you will see Hawkins St. A right on Hawkins, then a left into the parking lot just past the playground and I found a parking spot behind the “small” field known as Prete Field. As I was pulling in, I noticed the second game had started, so I headed over to the “big” field which is just up a small hill from the “small” field.
Rachel and I took seats in the bleachers located next to the first base dugout. The RI Devils were in the first base dugout and Vogie was in the third base dugout. The sun was setting as I arrived and shadows from the large trees that surrounded the fields were stretched across the field. Still plenty of daylight at 5:45 and I settled in to watch the two teams compete. Fans had found seats around the backstop curling around to the third base dugout as well as in the right field area on the other side of the first base dugout. The field was in really good shape for September. There was a slight breeze and the air temperature was just amazingly comfortable. Great night (weather wise) for baseball in Rhode Island in September.
The RI Devils Justin Odsen was on the mound the entire time I was at the game. Odsen threw hard, worked fast, had a power pitcher’s windup and release. He pitched to contact, threw a lot of strikes, and his defense stepped up to help him out when the ball was put in play.
Vogie’s Pitcher (Ethan, didn’t get his last name) was a left hander with more of a side arm delivery. Ethan would go into his windup, then drop down, and fire the baseball to home plate, sort of a variation of Boston’s Chris Sale’s windup. He had good command and pitched to contact as well.
Both teams, Vogie and The RI Devils, had hitters that really put a charge into the baseball. There were a few balls hit with authority into the outfield gaps for doubles. Both teams used wood bats, so you got to hear that “THWAAACK” when the ball was hit solidly.
The lights at Prete-Metcalf came on around 7pm, which made a huge difference in the lighting on the field. By 7pm, and before the lights came on, the sun had set passed the trees and the daylight was just about non-existent. Night baseball (with lights) is so awesome to play in and experience. And it’s great for photography purposes as well.
In the end, Vogie and The RI Devils split their opening day doubleheader. Vogie took Game 1 by a score of 1-0. The RI Devils took Game 2 by a score of 9-1. To recap the game I was at (Game 2), it was a well pitched game, lot of strikes, lot of contact, routine plays made in the field, good energy, and good pace by each pitcher and the game itself. The field looked great and the weather was just spectacular for a baseball game. After the game, Rachel and I headed over to Olneyville’s Wes’ Rib House for some BBQ. Baseball and BBQ – what a night!!!
Good luck to Vogie and the RI Devils this fall in the Autumn Baseball League. For more information on the 2021 Autumn Baseball League, check out their official website at www.autumnbaseballleague.com. And if you are playing in the ABL this year and would like me to feature your team in an article, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will do my best to get out to one of your games.
The RIBBE is The Rhode Island Baseball Experience. It is promoting the game of baseball here in the great state of Rhode Island for the entire baseball world to see. The RIBBE is positive stories, photos, videos, and responsible social media posts. The RIBBE is an information resource for families looking for an AAU team or a summer camp or a great place to buy a first baseman’s mitt. The RIBBE is a network of coaches, tournament directors, parents, leagues, and baseball junkies whose passion of the game of baseball is unquestioned. I believe that providing expert analysis, information and directions to ballfields, and coaching advice from some of the top RI baseball minds will help promote the game of baseball here in RI to a whole new level.