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Blue Rocks Run Ends A Week Early

By Dan Mele, 11/16/22, 9:30PM CST


Blue Rocks Fall to the Storm Chasers in the Semi Final Round


I took longer than normal to write this week’s article, as I wanted to really ponder our last weekend as a team.  First off, I tip my hat to Pease’s Storm Chasers.  They bounced back after losing game 1, and Pease himself made the tough decision to switch around the fielding lineup.  Mike Babb is an incredible pitcher, not only in the pitching itself, but in the way he fields the position.  And putting Brian Ortega at short stop for the final 2 games punched their ticket to the championship.  He made incredible plays the whole day.  Congrats to the Storm Chasers for advancing.

Let’s get back on track.  The Blue Rocks had an outstanding season.  If you have never played for Banta, you are missing out on a great experience.  He made everyone enjoy the game week in and week out.  I was lucky enough to be a part of it, albeit just as an assistant coach. We pretty much used the same lineup every week, and never once during the season did we need a sub.  So let’s break it down player by player as you would have seen them come to bat…

Grayson – While playing RCF most of the year, I was always confident you would make some sliding spectacular catch week after week.  You were a great leadoff hitter for us, and I loved watching you grow as a player.  You were our most vocal player, always cheering everyone on and building them up.

Luke – When Banta and Grayson told me that they wanted to draft you with the 4th pick, I couldn’t have been happier.  Incredible short stop.  Incredible hitter.  Incredible base runner.  Incredible teammate.  I am glad you got to hang with me this season. 

Babbit – I still tell Kelly Alexander, “if you had taken Babbit last fall on the Trash Pandas, we would have walked through that season”.  Almost anything hit to third this season was an automatic out.  Your strength at the plate had me comfortable that we would always score as long as Luke was on first before you came up. 

D Bone…always seemed to take the most round about way to catch a fly ball, but you constantly made the catches.  And the grunts at the plate are only second to Michael Barth’s, but the power is undeniable.

Banta – The pitching kept us in every game.  The attitude and motivation in the dugout kept us going.  The sneaky pop at the plate had me saying “Banta’s still got it”. 

Simo – I played with you many many years ago, when we were both way younger and way more resilient.  You moved to first base for this team, and never once complained.  The hustle is still there, and it was a pleasure being your teammate again.

Dalton – You still own one of the best diving plays I have ever seen by a LCF.  I also watched you throw a ball flat footed from the fence and almost gun down a guy tagging from third.  A sneaky strong arm.  And so cool, calm and collective.  Nothing ever seemed to agitate you. 

Strull – Ever since that Shalom Live when they compared you to Larry David, I can’t get that out of my head.  You had the best batting average on our team.  When you came to bat, I was preparing the last guy that got out to be ready to run.  Mr. Automatic.  One of the smartest hitters I have ever played with.

Beas – I can still remember sitting next to Banta in the draft, and when he got to you, he smiled and said “give me Beas!”.  He was excited and I now understand why.  Great teammate, great player. 

Matt – Held down RF all year long.  And your hustle at the plate caused more than a few errant throws from the other teams.  You always seemed to start a rally for us.

Timmy – I probably talked to you the most throughout the year.  You always smiled and laughed, even if it was at your own expense.  In the last regular season weekend, you were perfect at the plate, and I loved watching it.

Ozzie – I still don’t know how you were still on the board when it was our pick in the 12th.  I can’t imagine you will ever fall that far again.  You hit 500 this season, and just like Strull, I always felt good with you at the plate and us needing a hit. 

I will be sad this weekend that we are not on the field playing for a repeat Blue Rocks Championship.  But there was nothing to be sad about this season.  I had a great time, and I look forward to seeing all of you out there in the spring.