2011 Atlantic Division Champion Royals(18) Season Highlights
The 2011 SJMSBL 18+ Champions comprised of TJ Gersey, Eric Pini, Ryan Becks, Jeff Canter, Joey Canter, Brian Thomas, Steve Connolly, Stevie McLean, Casey Tauscher, Nick Rizzi, Rich Rodrigues, Mikey Smith, Joel Salvatierra, Ray Hutchison, Johnny Angleson, Alex Law, Cole Gummere, Randolph Sandoval, and Victor Gonzales showed what you can accomplish with the DESIRE TO BE CHAMPS!
This team set out in February to acquire some talent and fill crucial holes from the 2010 Royals one playoff win team. During the Palm Springs classic, the Royals recruited free agent Stevie McLean to fill a void at SS. At the same time in SJ, recently named Skipper Eric Pini signed on Mikey Smith to play 2B/SS. The Royals then added one more middle infielder name Victor Gonzales out of the SJMSBL Draft. The final piece was acquired at the Bellarmine Alumni game by Brian Thomas who didn’t have to ask LHP Steve Connolly twice to join the beefed up Royals. Half the battle was done, but Question was could this team show they could produce on the field to match what was on paper?
In the season opener, the Royals flexed their muscle by dominating the Phillies (11-0) and officially put the other teams on notice! The Royals sprinted out to a 8-1 start which included an extra inning loss and a (17-1) win over the defending champion Mets!
With an 8-1 record and sole possession of 1st place, the Royals were hit with the worst news possible. SS Stevie Mclean had a torn labrum (out for year) and 2B Mikey Smith had a broken hand and was possibly done for the year!
With two of the Royals best on the sidelines, the Royals pulled together and split with their rival Reds in two games that mirrored what we would ultimately see in the finals! It was hardball at its finest!
Needing a mid season spark and another body who could help fill in for the fallen all stars, Royals Player Personnel Director/1B Ryan Becks called on an old Santa Teresa high school teammate Johnny Angleson. Johnny immediately plugged into the OF and provided the team with much needed speed!
Heading into the final series of the year vs Rival Reds, the Royals needed a split to clinch the #1 seed and the league’s best record. Shorthanded, the Royals backfilled the lineup and still came up big winning game one 17-5, and after dropping game two, finished the year with a 16-4 record! When it couldn’t possibly get better for the Royals, it did, they received news that Mikey Smith would be available for the playoffs after completing rehab of his broken hand!
The Royals went on to sweep both the Phils in round one and the Reds in the SHIP to win the whole enchilada!
Leaders for the Royals included:
Wins: Joey Canter (6), Steve Connolly (5), TJ Gersey (4)
ERA: Joey Canter (4.58)
Ave: Ryan Becks (.617), Stevie McLean (.486), Rich Rodrigues (.484) and Jeff Canter (.475)
Runs: Canter (30), Gonzales (29), Hutchison (28), Becks (27),
RBI: Rich Rodrigues (30), Jeff Canter (26) Randolph Sandoval (22) Becks (21) Cole Gummere (20)
SB: Gonzales (15) Hutchison (11)
HR: Rich Rodrigues (8) Cole Gummere (4)
The Royals could not have been champions without the efforts of a deep bench and key role players who put the team above themselves! Cheers to Nick Rizzi, Casey Tauscher, Alex Law, and TJ Gersey for filling in with huge plays and pitches during the course of this great season!!!
Special thanks to Eric Pini, while he couldn’t participate on the field (destroyed hammy), he donated his time to steer the Ship and keep us calm during the Championship Run.
MVP of the Royals is disputable, but many pointed to the inspired play of COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR Jeff Canter who lead the Royal attack with a Tremendous Season!
It has been an absolute honor to play with this team, who gave up everything for the betterment of the team goals to win this very tough league!
Thank you to the Reds, Mets, Phillies, boo Cubs, and Dbacks for the great competition all season long. The Royals will be back to defend in 2012!