Tournaments : : Story
Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Ruffnecks rough up competition

Tiffany Seal        
Photo: Perfect Game

EMERSON, Ga. — The New England Ruffnecks lived up to their name, as they took the third of four round-robin games in the 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin to the FTB Rockets, 7-5 Wednesday. 
The Ruffnecks jumped on the Rockets early, racking up six of their seven runs in the first two innings.

Leading the barrage was third baseman Christian Walsh, who went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs and one run scored. 

“Personally I pride myself on my bat, and trying to help the team as much as I can at the plate, and just staying solid in the field,” said Welsh.

Center fielder Joe Simourian followed close behind, with a 2-for-3 day with an RBI and one run scored.

“I like to think of myself as well-rounded,” said Simourian. “I try to not let anything drop in the outfield and I think I succeed at that for the most part, and still swing the bat pretty well.”

The team as a whole swung the bats well enough to fend off the Rockets, who began to threaten by scoring three runs in the fourth and two in the sixth to bring the game within a two-run deficit.

“One strength of our team is that we grind,” said Walsh. “We don’t have a lot of individual players, we play as a team and that’s one thing that helps us win.”

The Ruffnecks are based out of the greater-Boston area, with players from surrounding suburbs and a few from New Hampshire and Michigan. They are a historically well-traveled team to the northern Atlanta area and Perfect Game circuit.

“It’s a first of all beautiful fields and really good competition,” said head coach John Toffey. “And then it’s tremendous exposure for our boys. Most of them all have goals of playing college baseball, so when we come down here, we get to play against really good teams and beautiful fields, and also get exposure to lots of different colleges.”

One of the three committed players on the Ruffnecks is Simourian, who will spend his next four years come 2018 in Annapolis at the Naval Academy.

“They do have a great baseball program, but [I'm] mostly [looking forward] to the lifestyle and preparing myself to be a leader, and going to serve in the Navy is something that has always been a dream of mine,” said Simourian. “In addition to that, they are not too bad baseball-wise, they won the Patriot League a couple years in a row, so I’m really excited for it, it’s a beautiful place.”

For those still uncommitted, the next two weeks of baseball will be opportunities to change that. The 17u WWBA Elite Round Robin precedes the 17U WWBA National Championship. The tournament allows teams to play four times at the LakePoint complex to tune up for the bigger event starting Friday June 30.

“We just try and go out there and play fundamentally sound baseball,” said Toffey. “Whether it’s the Round Robin or WWBA or if we’re playing baseball back home, we just try and go out there and play fundamentally sound baseball and try and improve individually and as a team.”

The New England area is well represented in the Round Robin, with three of the 24 teams hailing from the state of Massachusetts. 

“We definitely had a lot of work to do once we got down here,” said Simourian. “We’ve had a couple practices and touched on it all. We really haven’t had a lot of games so far this summer, so [we’ve done] a lot of fielding and a lot of hitting, and it was well-reflected today.”

The three games so far have shown a well-rounded team, having timely hitting and strong pitching to carry them through the National Championship week.

“We’ve been playing better defense and our pitchers have done a good job on cutting down on our walks,” said Toffey. “We’ve had some big two-out hits, so [we're] starting to play more sound baseball and more complete baseball games.”

The repetition coupled with the high visibility Perfect Game tournaments offer, are just two of the reasons the New England Ruffnecks make their way down each summer.

“I think this is a great tournament,” said Walsh. “I like the fact that you can come down here and get 15, 20 games in a two week span and just play in front of the best coaches in the country. Down here, the competition it’s real and you have to come to play everyday.”

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