Red Sox Optimist – 2008

2008 Season Record: 45-21-1

April 269:30 AMvs. *Cly Mudcats
Susquehanna League Early-Bird Tournament
East Prospect
W(10-0)
April 2612:30 PMvs. *Dauphin
Susquehanna League Early-Bird Tournament
East Prospect
L(0-10)
April 263:30 PMvs. *York Township
Susquehanna League Early-Bird Tournament
McWilliams Field
L(1-7)
May 41:00 PMat *Middletown 
Middletown High School
W(7-0)
May 44:00 PMat *Linglestown
Coon's Park
T(6-6)
May 87:00 PMat *Memory 21
Egelmans Park
W(9-0)
May 97:30 PMvs. *Middletown
Egelmans Park
W(9-0)
May 1012:00 PMvs. *Berkshire Blue Sox (Game 1)
Birdsboro Optimist Field
L(1-8)
May 102:30 PMvs. *Berkshire Blue Sox (Game 2)
Birdsboro Optimist Field
W(4-3)
May 136:00 PMat *Memory 21
Egelmans Park
W(13-3)
May 147:00 PMat *Berkshire Blue Sox
Egelmans Park
W(5-1)
May 156:00 PMat *Smitty's Cardinals
Hempfield High School
L(2-3)
May 179:00 AMvs. *Berkshire Blue Sox
Rawlings Wood Bat Jamboree
L(2-5)
May 1711:30 AMvs. *Norristown Agents
Rawlings Wood Bat Jamboree
Egelmans Park
W(2-0)
May 207:00 PMvs. *Smitty's Cardinals
Egelmans Park
W(7-0)
May 215:45 PMat *Exeter Blue Jays
Exeter High School
W(9-0)
May 2412:45 PMvs. *Charlotte Chiefs
Ripken Spring Classic
Griffith Field @ The Ripken Experience
W(5-0)
May 245:00 PMvs. *North Myrtle Beach Braves
Ripken Spring Classic
Myrtle Beach High School
W(8-4)
May 2510:00 AMvs. *Wilmington Indians
Ripken Spring Classic
Griffith Field @ The Ripken Experience
L(3-4)
May 2512:45 PMvs. *Virginia Diamondbacks
Ripken Spring Classic
Griffith Field @ The Ripken Experience
W(14-4)
May 2610:00 AMvs. *Myrtle Beach White Sox
Ripken Spring Classic Semi-Final
Griffith Field @ The Ripken Experience
L(3-6)
May 296:00 PMat Memory 21
Pendora Park
W(8-2)
May 307:00 PMvs. Pottstown A's
George Field
W(16-0)
June 15:05 PMat Berkshire Blue Sox (bt)
Baseballtown Benefit Game (ESPN 1240 AM)
First Energy Stadium
W(5-4)
June 36:00 PMat PlayBall Black Sox
Union Township Recreation Facility
L(0-3)
June 55:45 PMvs. PlayBall Black Sox
George Field
L(3-4 (8))
June 67:00 PMat Ephrata Blue Coats
War Memorial Stadium
W(11-4)
June 71:30 PMat Manheim Township Black Hats (Game 1)
Manheim Township High School
L(3-4)
June 74:00 PMat Manheim Township Black Hats (Game 2)
Manheim Township High School
W(10-0)
June 117:00 PMvs. Lancaster Braves
George Field
W(7-4)
June 126:00 PMvs. *Smitty's Cardinals
Rawlings Berkshire Showdown
Egelmans Park
W(4-0)
June 128:30 PMvs. *Linglestown
Rawlings Berkshire Showdown
Egelmans Park
L(1-3)
June 136:00 PMvs. *Susquehanna All-Stars
Rawlings Berkshire Showdown
George Field
W(8-3)
June 149:00 AMvs. *Cly Mudcats
Rawlings Berkshire Showdown
George Field
W(8-6)
June 152:00 PMvs. *Baltimore Cooper Cleaning
Rawlings Berkshire Showdown Semi-Final
George Field
L(4-5)
June 185:45 PMvs. Memory 21
George Field
L(2-11)
June 198:15 PMvs. Ephrata Blue Coats
George Field
W(2-1 (10))
June 211:00 PMat Lititz Pirates (Game 1)
Warwick High School
W(4-2)
June 213:30 PMat Lititz Pirates (Game 2)
Warwick High School
W(7-3)
June 237:05 PMvs. Berkshire Blue Sox
George Field
L(0-1)
June 247:05 PMat Berkshire Blue Sox
George Field
W(6-5)
June 256:00 PMat SWS Nationals
Lampeter-Strasburg High School
W(6-1)
June 266:00 PMat Pottstown A's
Pottstown Memorial Park
W(7-0)
June 289:00 AMat *Virginia Senators
Tallgran Games for Luekemia
Vets Park Field #3, Woodbridge, VA
W(5-4 (10))
June 283:00 PMvs. *FedLock Falcons
Tallgran Games for Luekemia
Vets Park Field #3, Woodbridge, VA
L(1-4)
June 299:00 AMat *Greenbriar Knights
Tallgran Games for Luekemia
Vets Park Field #3, Woodbridge, VA
L(3-5)
June 307:00 PMvs. Lancaster Braves
George Field
W(8-7)
July 17:00 PMat Ephrata Blue Coats
War Memorial Stadium
W(6-4 (11))
July 61:00 PMvs. *Berkshire Blue Sox
George Field
W(7-1)
July 63:30 PMvs. *Fairfax Heat
George Field
W(7-0)
July 85:45 PMvs. Smitty's Cardinals
George Field
W(5-0)
July 95:45 PMvs. PlayBall Black Sox
George Field
W(4-0)
July 106:00 PMat Memory 21
Pendora Park
L(2-9)
July 1212:00 PMat *Cumberland Orioles (Game 1)
Hot Stove Complex, Cumberland, MD
L(6-7 (12))
July 122:30 PMat *Cumberland Orioles (Game 2)
Hot Stove Complex, Cumberland, MD
W(6-1)
July 147:00 PMat SWS NATIONALS
George Field
W(7-0)
July 158:15 PMvs. Smitty's Cardinals (mb)
Mini-Bat Night/Chamber of Commerce Night
George Field
W(8-7 (9))
July 166:00 PMvs. Pottstown A's
George Field
W(7-0)
July 168:15 PMvs. *Sam's Goosehouse Mets
George Field
W(5-0)
July 194:30 PMvs. Jonestown (Game 1)
George Field
W(9-3)
July 197:00 PMvs. Jonestown (Game 2)
George Field
W(11-1)
July 227:00 PMvs. PlayBall Black Sox
Eastern Division Championship Game
George Field
W(7-6)
July 257:00 PMvs. Memory 21
Eastern Divisional Series (Game 1)
George Field
W(12-1)
July 267:00 PMat Memory 21
Eastern Divisional Series (Game 2)
Egelmans Park
W(4-2)
July 287:00 PMvs. PlayBall Black Sox
Eastern Division Championship Series (Game 1)
George Field
L(0-6)
July 297:00 PMvs. PlayBall Black Sox
Eastern Division Championship Series (Game 2)
George Field
L(4-6 (9))
July 305:45 PMat PlayBall Black Sox
Eastern Division Championship Series (Game 3)
Union Twp. Field
L(0-7)
5Dan Clouser   (Head Coach)
1Nate Weiss - OF
2Dave Morris - Utl.
3Josh McDevitt - Utl.
4Peter Jordan - OF
6Sean Morris - OF
8Danny Morris - IF
9Kyle Stover - IF
11Jeremy Hess - RHP/IF
12Kevin Morganti - RHP (DL)
14Kevin Lengyel - RHP/IF
15Kevin Thomas - RHP
16Pat Kramer - IF (L)
17John Guiseppe - C
19Brock Laubenstine - RHP
20John Pisker - OF (DL)
21Leon Adams - IF
22Mike Billera-Smith - RHP/IF
23Matt Freiwald - OF
24Joe Harris - LHP
25Jason Dunkelberger - IF/RHP
26Andrew Ball - RHP
27Billy Huntzinger - RHP/IF
28Gerry Werner - Utl.
31Derreck Boyer - LHP (L)
32Zac Schneider - IF
33Rob Lozenski - OF/C/1B
35Chad Denunzio - 1B
39Shane Stein - OF/LHP
41Dave Schaeffer - RHP

MVP – Dave Morris & Leon Adams
Outstanding Pitcher – Billy Huntzinger
Sportsmanship/Hustle – Shane Stein
Defensive Player of the Year – Peter Jordan

Back to back championships are hard enough to come by. After accomplishing that feat, the 2008 Berkshire Red Sox Quad County Optimist League team set out to become the first three-peat champion in Quad County Optimist League history.

As if those preseason expectations weren’t enough, the Red Sox had a streak of five consecutive appearances in the League Championship Series, another Quad County League record.

Manager Dan Clouser returned at the helm for his 9th season as Red Sox skipper, after an offseason filled with uncertainty about his return.

The Red Sox returned a plethora of seasoned leaders, including 2007 MVP Peter Jordan, Kyle Stover, Leon Adams, Dave Morris, Zac Schneider, and Rob “The Cap” Lozenski.

They also added some new faces in the offseason. They picked up three starting pitchers, Andrew Ball, Billy Huntzinger, and Kevin Thomas, as well as a few solid relievers in Dave Schaeffer, Brock Laubenstine, and a bona fide closer in Andy Long.

When Long left to play in an independent summer league in New York, 17 year old Laubenstine was eager to step up and fill the closers role, thriving in high pressure situations.

Pitching was the biggest question coming into the 2008 season. The departure of Pittsburgh University standout Nate Reed to the prestigious Cape Cod League, as well as a wrist injury to expected starter Kevin Morganti, really set the team back. Add to that the unknown of Kevin Lengyel, coming off 2007 shoulder surgery, and this pitching staff was left looking for answers.

Luckily, they found them.

From day one, the Red Sox starting rotation of veterans Jeremy Hess and Joey Harris, along with rookies Andrew Ball, Billy Huntzinger, and Kevin Thomas, performed at a level that put the Red Sox in prime position to three-peat. They had their ups and downs as any pitching staff does, but consistently gave their team a chance to win.

The Red Sox got off to a hot start, winning their first three games, including a 5-4 win over the Berkshire Blue Sox at First Energy Stadium.

They were set back rather quickly, however, dropping back to back games to the Playball Black Sox, who would turn out to be the biggest obstacle to a Red Sox third consecutive championship. Ever since last year’s Red Sox sweep of the Black Sox in the playoffs, the heated rivalry has been escalating.

The Red Sox had some peaks and valleys throughout the summer, as expected with a long season.

Solid wins against a tough Ephrata Blue Coats team were offset by a couple of bad blowout losses to Memory 21. The Red Sox battled, however, and put themselves in prime position to win the Eastern Division Championship.

A group of unsung heroes for the Red Sox in 2008 was the bullpen. The combination of Mike Billera-Smith, Dave Schaeffer, Andy Long, Shane Stein, Jason Dunkelberger, legion add-on Derreck Boyer, and closer Brock Laubenstine instilled a great amount of confidence in Manager Dan Clouser late in games.

This was made evident in a key July 1 game at Ephrata. The Red Sox, needing a win to keep pace with the Playball Black Sox, had to turn to the bullpen early. The unsung pen allowed just one run over 8 innings, holding Ephrata long enough for Dave Morris to deliver a 2-out, 2-RBI triple to give the Red Sox a 6-4, 11-inning thrilling win.

In early July, the Red Sox added a familiar face to their roster. Chad Denunzio came out of retirement to try to give the Red Sox a much needed lift, as well as some veteran leadership and power in the middle of the lineup.

After a bad loss to Memory 21 on July 10 at Pendora Park, the Red Sox ripped off five straight league wins, and found themselves tied with the Playball Black Sox atop the Eastern Division, which forced a one game playoff for the Eastern Division title.

The Red Sox jumped out to a 4-0 lead, and were well on their way to a Division Championship.

Not so fast.

The Black Sox stormed back to take a 6-4 lead. It didn’t phase the resilient Red Sox, however, who battled right back to tie the game at 6. These Red Sox were not to be denied this game.

Leon Adams, who was a consistent force at the top of the lineup all year, was driven in by Jason Dunkelberger in the bottom of the 7th inning to give the Red Sox a 7-6 win, as well as the Eastern Division Championship.

First goal, achieved.

On to the playoffs, where the top-seeded Red Sox took on a tough Memory 21 team, which was a daunting task considering Memory 21 had trounced the Red Sox a combined 20-4 the past two regular season games.

In the best of three series, the Red Sox quickly erased all doubts, pounding Memory 21 in game one, 12-1.

The series then shifted to Egelman’s Park, where the Red Sox jumped out to a quick lead on a Leon Adams home run on the first pitch of the game. The Red Sox’ bats when silent after that, which would turn out to be an unfortunate foreshadowing ahead to the rest of the playoffs.

The Sox battled, however, and down 2-1 in their last at bats, the resilient Red Sox strung together one last rally, combining some key hits with some key hit by pitches, as well as some flat out luck. They scored 3 runs in the inning, and Brock Laubenstine shut the door to give the Red Sox a 2-0 series win, their 6th straight playoff series victory.

The win set up a date with the all-to-familiar Playball Black Sox, who the Red Sox swept out of the playoffs last year en route to their second straight championship.

The stage was set for a great series, with each team beating the other twice in 2008.

This year, however, Playball had a chip on their shoulders, and the Red Sox’ inconsistent offense was shut down by Playball’s dominant pitching.

After a 6-0 Playball win in game one, the Red Sox battled back in game two, sending the game all the way to 9 innings. The Red Sox squandered too many opportunities, however, and Playball capitalized, pulling out a 6-4 win at George Field.

Down 2-0 in the series, the Red Sox headed to Union Township to try to keep their season alive. The Red Sox tried to pull some magic from the 2006 season, when they came back from a 2-0 deficit to stun the Smitty’s Cardinals on their way to the championship.

It just wasn’t meant to be.

The Black Sox used four home runs and a Thomas Ashman 2-hit shutout to end the Red Sox season short of the championship series for the first time in 6 years. It snapped the Red Sox streak of 6 consecutive playoff series wins.

The Black Sox would go on to sweep Manheim Township in the League Championship series for their first ever League Championship, going 8-0 in the postseason.

After failing to win a third straight championship, the offseason for the Red Sox will surely be filled with many decisions. Many veterans will consider retirement after magnificent careers in the Red Sox organization. Manager Dan Clouser will have to search for ways to improve the team and load up again for 2009.

Despite the unknowns, one thing is for sure.

The Red Sox will be hungry in 2009.

©2017 Berkshire Baseball & Softball Club / BIG Vision Foundation

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Berkshire Baseball & Softball Club
BIG Vision Sports Complex

1098 County Welfare Road
Leesport, PA 19533

Phone 484-577-4133
FAX 484-577-4205

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