Twice as Nice: Valley Blue Sox Repeat as NECBL Champions
August 10, 2018 - New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) News Release
WAKEFIELD, R.I. - The defending champs are back on top!
For the first time since the Vermont Mountaineers took the crown in consecutive years in both 2006 and 2007, the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL) has a back-to-back champion; the Valley Blue Sox are back on top of the New England League in emphatic fashion, hoisting the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup for the second straight season after sweeping the Ocean State Waves in the best-of-three championship series.
Early big innings proved to be thematic to the Blue Sox defending their title, and that started on Wednesday night at MacKenzie Stadium. Valley broke open a scoreless tie in that game with a four-run bottom of the third inning and led by four (5-1) with three innings to play before ultimately hanging on for a 5-3 victory to take the upper hand in the series.
Rising senior Nate Cardy (Gannon) had two hits for the Blue Sox in the opener and drove in a team-high two runs while scoring another. On the bump, it was All-Star Game starter Endy Morales (SNHU) tossing seven innings of one-run ball with seven strikeouts, two walks and four hits before senior Benny Wagner (Yale) shut the door by retiring the final five batters of the game.
Thursday's game was far less dramatic, as Valley once again hopped out to an early lead and only piled it on from there. A five-run first inning eventually became an eight-run lead and then a 12-run cushion after the Blue Sox batted six times, leading by a 15-3 score at one point. They added four more runs before the final out was recorded to cement their mini-dynasty status with their second straight league championship.
Valley outslugged Ocean State by a 20-13 margin in terms of total hits in Thursday's clinching game, with senior infielder Simon Whiteman (Yale) bashing six hits with a triple, five runs scored and four RBIs to pace the Blue Sox offense. It was All-Star closer Ricky Reynoso (Pacific) who appropriately recorded the final three outs to cap off an incredible summer in the Pioneer Valley.
For the second straight season, Valley completed a perfect postseason, going 4-0 with sweeps in the NECBL Divisional Championship as well as the league's championship series. Valley won the North Division regular season title with a 30-12 record, clearing the next-closest team by six games. But while last year the Blue Sox might have been the underdog against an Ocean State that was ranked No. 1 nationally in all of collegiate summer league baseball at one point, this year's Blue Sox squad never left any doubt and solidified their status as the undeniable top team in the league.
Valley and Ocean State's second straight meeting in the league's championship series marks only the third time in league history when two teams have met in back-to-back years in the finals with the same result; the last two teams to do so were Newport and Keene in 2001 and 2002. Ocean State, meanwhile, reached its second straight championship series for a franchise that has been around for only six years.
The Blue Sox head home with the Fay Vincent Sr. Cup, putting a bow on the NECBL's 25th season, which was held in memory of Joe Consentino, the league's co-founder and one of the most influential figures in the 25-year history of the league. Consentino and fellow co-founder, former Cincinnati Reds outfielder and National League MVP George Foster, envisioned a summer league in New England where college players would have a chance to develop their skills in front of MLB scouts. That dream became a reality, and 25 years later, the "New England League" is more prosperous than ever.
The New England Collegiate Baseball League is a wooden bat college summer league that fields teams in all six New England states. Partially funded by Major League Baseball, the NECBL started play in 1994 and is enjoying its 25th-year anniversary season this summer. The New England League has sent nearly 150 alumni to the Major Leagues and has had close to 100 alumni taken in the MLB Draft in each of the last 10 seasons.
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Valley Blue Sox celebrate NECBL championship
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New England Collegiate Baseball League Stories from August 10, 2018
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