Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Road Warriors gone...for now

After the 2004 season in which the Road Warriors went a horrific 23-103 the team finally went away when the Lancaster Barnstormers took the field in the 2005 season. It was thought that the nomadic baseball team wouldn't have to be a schedule filler ever again or at least for a good amount of time. However, the Road Warriors were back once again in 2006 after the Nashua Pride left for the Can-Am League. 2 seasons later the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs may finally put the Road Warriors to rest for good. The Atlantic League will have 8 teams with fairly strong fan bases going into its 11th season.
The 2007 Road Warrior club left in an almost exact opposite way than that of the 2004 club. The 07 Warriors set a team high in wins, made possible with their "fight until the end" type of attitude that was necessary for any player that put on the red and gray. A team high 43 wins in 2007 passed the 06 record of 42, granted the team lost over 80 games both seasons but when taking into account the environment it was done, it is quite an achievement.
Over the 2006 and 2007 seasons, at the helm was Manager Jeff Scott. Scott was formerly a pitching coach for both the Pennsylvania Road Warriors in 2004 and later the Long Island Ducks. This experience was essential to helping Scott work with the inexperienced staff that he was forced to work with on the Road Warriors. Scott was well awarded in 2007 as he was named the Manager of the Year in the Atlantic League. Scott always kept the players in good spirit on the road and kept the team in ball games all throughout the long season. Besides being the manager of the team Scott was the equipment manager and of course the pitching coach. With the mentoring of Scott, mix in the young guys like Charlie Hesseltine, Chris Eickhorst, etc; the veteran leadership of guys like Benito Baez, Jeff Tam and Carlos Castillo (all with Major League experience) and the much traveled minor leaguers like Julio Guerrero and Damien Myers, the Road Warriors pitching staff was able to be a good match up for opposing Atlantic League teams.
Beyond the pitching staff the Road Warriors had a solid line up in 2007. Speed at either end in guys like Travis Ezi, David Housel and Gabe Suarez gave the ability to create rallies. The big bats in the middle were among the best in the A.L. 1b Vito Chiaravalloti had a monster season, which was overshadowed by the rest of the first basemen at the Atlantic League's strongest position. Vito hit .296 with 19 home runs and set team records with 32 doubles and 81 RBIs. Equally impressive was Vito's patience at the plate. He worked out 76 walks which led to a team high .408 OBP. OF Steve Doetsch was equally, if not more impressive than Chiaravalloti, at the dish in 2007. Doetsch hit a lofty .284 and also scored a team record 76 runs. Doetsch tied the season record in home runs with 22 (to Dario Delgado in 2003) and tied a team record (with teammate Travis Ezi) with 7 triples. Steve was a well deserved nominee to the 2007 Atlantic League All Star Team.
The 2007 Road Warriors enjoyed success on the field in their final season. They will be remembered in the Atlantic League for playing 126 games for 5 seasons on the road, with great passion. Most of the players will take this experience to other minor league teams in 2008 and continue to play great baseball. The Road Warriors may be missed by some in 2008, and some others may be glad to see them finally leave, but every fan can agree that the players loved to play the game.

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