An Autumn Baseball League Double Feature On The Last Weekend of Summer, 2021

This past weekend marked the final official weekend of Summer for 2021. I know, I know. Labor Day is the “unofficial” end of the Summer for most. However, my calendar says that September 22nd is the First Day of Autumn, so there!!! So, I decided to check out a few Autumn Baseball League games on Sunday and to meet some of the coaches I have been communicating with over the past few weeks. Here is a photo recap of the games and places I visited on Sunday.

My first stop was LaSalle Academy for a 16U Divisional matchup between Vogie (Mt. Hope High School) and Swarm. I arrived as the first game was wrapping up.

With the score being tied, the ABL extra inning rule of placing a runner at 2nd base was in effect. Swarm, the home team, batted with a runner on 2nd and was able to score the winning run after just a few pitches to take Game 1 of the doubleheader.

In between games, I hopped up to the top row of the bleachers, which overlook the athletic fields at LaSalle Academy. The bleachers face the football field but you can still get an incredible view of the baseball field and LaSalle campus.

Bleacher cam – LaSalle Academy

LaSalle Academy’s baseball field features artificial turf covering the entire field area, except for the mound. The pitcher’s mound is a dirt mound and you can see the dirt from the pitcher’s windups and follow throughs sprayed all around the outer perimeter.

Vogie’s Manager Jason Gale emailed me “You need to see AJ (Andrew) Jones pitch. A top pitcher in the state of RI.” Jones has an exceptional arm – explosive fastball, sharp breaking ball. Smooth delivery. He worked fast and was a bulldog on the mound. Definitely one to watch in 2021/2022! Thanks for the tip Coach!

The sun was out in full force on Sunday. Very few clouds, if any. It was an incredible weather day for baseball on the last weekend of Summer.

From LaSalle Academy, I took the short 5 mile drive up to Smithfield’s Whipple Field. Field 5 is located in the far corner of the complex, which had every field filled with youth baseball, softball players. The parking lot was packed with cars and parents lined bleachers and backstops to watch baseball and softball. Very cool scene at Whipple.

I arrived pre-game 1 for Smithfield vs RI Devils in the 18U Division. Smithfield Manager Joe Coelho had invited me to the game and he was excited about the opportunity to play the highly touted RI Devils under the lights at Whipple.

When I arrived, I ran into the game umpires and we chatted about a recent article I had written about one of their peers, Alfred Travieso. We chatted about the state of baseball in RI, this upcoming game, our kids, and I thanked them for their service to youth baseball in RI. And both called a great game!

Smithfield starter for Game 1 was Cal Battersby. The right hander from West Warwick according to his manager, “looks to build off strong spring and summer seasons with respective West Warwick teams.” Battersby had a Bronson Arroyo type leg kick, good command of his fastball and off speed pitches that really stymied the Devils bats for the first 5 innings. He would also vary his windups (quick pitch at times) to throw off the timing of the batters. Battersby pitched a heck of a game!

The RI Devils countered with Carlos Santos, who threw strike after strike all game. Santos was not fazed by runners on base or the cleanup batter or any batter for that matter. He remained focus and in control all game and pitched a gem. There were some hard hit balls hit and a few runs scored off Santos. But for the most part, Santos worked in and out of trouble on the mound.

Game 1 was indeed a pitcher’s duel up and into the 6th inning. Battersby was sharp and held the bats of the Devils at bay. Santos was exact and pitched like a seasoned veteran. Going into the top of the 6th inning, it was anyone’s game. Until it wasn’t.

Almost like a light switching on in the top of the 6th inning, The RI Devils batters got hot and didn’t cool off. Battersby had pitched a great game and was relieved by 2 other pitchers. By the third out, the Devils had put up 11 runs and had put on a power display of hitting at the plate, punctuated by a towering 3-run home run by catcher Carlos Merejo.

Carlos Santos pitched the bottom of the 6th inning and recorded 3 quick outs to secure the RI Devils win, the last two on an incredible defensive play by the Devils’ second baseman who fielded a short hop line drive, stepped on 2nd and then fired a strike to first to end the game.

Two fantastic Autumn Baseball League games on a spectacular, sunny Sunday in September. In between games, I got to catch a bit of the Patriots game (victorious over the Jets) in the car ride from Providence to Smithfield. The weather was very Summer-like, probably because it is still Summer until Wednesday the 22nd. It was great to meet Vogie Manager Jason Gale and chat with him about his team. It was great to meet up with Smithfield’s Manager Joe Coelho and chat with him about his team, the walkup music for his Smithfield teams at bats. It was great to meet RI Devils Jason Sanford and chat about the Devils program and where they are headed. And it was great to chat with the game umps and have a few laughs about family, baseball, and life. An awesome Rhode Island Baseball Experience watching a double feature of talented Rhode Island baseball players in the Autumn Baseball League on Sunday!!!

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