British Baseball Beat: Herts take top spot

Last Sunday was the first day of the 2013 British baseball season in which teams from all divisions took to the field.

Herts sweep Harlow to take NBL league lead

The Herts Falcons (5-1) flew to the top of the NBL standings last Sunday with an impressive double-header sweep of the reigning champions, the Harlow Nationals.

The Falcons won by scores of 16-8 and 8-1 and they have averaged just over 10 runs scored per game over their first six contests of the 2013 season. The Nationals’ manager Marty Cullen told the BBF NBL report that he was pleased with the efforts from his pitchers, Ben Powell and Robbie Almanzar, but the ruthless Falcons capitalised on 11 National errors and showed that even when facing effective pitching, they can find a way to put crooked numbers on the scoreboard.

The Falcons aren’t in action this Sunday and that will give the Southampton Mustangs the chance to regain a share of the NBL top spot if they can secure two victories at home against NBL newcomers the Essex Redbacks.

The Redbacks shared a split with the Essex Arrows last Sunday and showed good character in rebounding from an 11-1 loss in the opener to take the second game 8-4. The Redbacks were swept in their season-opening double-header by the Bracknell Blazer, but they have gone 2-2 since then and a trip to Southampton will be a great test to see how they measure up against one of the pre-season favourites.

The Blazers sat out Week 2 and, on the face of it, were brought back down to earth from their opening-day double victory when they lost twice to the Lakenheath Diamondbacks. However, both games were decided by a single run and the Blazers noted on their Twitter account that the oldest player in their squad that day was only 24. The development of Colin Whitton’s young team will be an intriguing story to follow over the course of this season.

Azcuy adds another longball to the list

The Harlow Nationals’ Maikel Azcuy hit his first home run of the season last Sunday in Game One against the Falcons. It was his 27th career round-tripper in the top-tier of British baseball, putting him four home runs behind joint-second placed hitters Alan Bloomfield and Roddi Liebenberg.

Azcuy would need to equal his best home-run season (6 in 2010 with the Croydon Pirates) to take sole possession of second place on the modern top-tier list by the end of 2013. Simon Pole holds the modern-time record of 35 career home runs.

The home run list can be found on Project COBB (2013 stats not included).

More Miguel magic

Here’s a question for veterans of the British baseball scene: has any pitcher started a season with consecutive no-hitters before?

The number of individual pitching seasons over the years, combined with the presence of some pitchers that have overmatched opponents, make it entirely possible that the feat has been achieved before, but even if the AAA-South Bristol Badgers’ Miguel Peralta feat isn’t unique, it’s still hugely impressive.

Peralta followed up his British baseball no-hit debut against the London Metros on 14 April with another no-no in his next game against the Cambridge Royals last Sunday. The Badgers host the Oxford Kings this coming Sunday, with Bristol’s ace aiming to reign supreme against another regal ballclub.

Marshall back on the mound

British Baseball Hall of Famer Gavin Marshall made his return to the BBF leagues last Sunday as the Hull native donned a Hull Scorpions uniform and helped his new team to a double-header sweep over the Manchester A’s in the AA-North.

Marshall was the first born-and-bred British baseball player to earn a professional contract in the United States (chronicled by BaseballGB writer Mark George in the book ‘Nine Aces’) and he represented the Great Britain national team with distinction between 1993 and 1999.

The Scorpions finished third in the AA-North last season with an 11-15 record, but the addition of Marshall and the team’s overall play against Manchester suggests that they will be a contender for the Double-A title this season.

Rebels and Trojans

The Liverpool Trojans got their AAA-North season underway with a 37-3 mauling of the Menwith Hill Patriots before rain led to the postponement of the second game. Meanwhile the Nottingham Rebels improved to 4-0 with two convincing wins over the Birmingham Maple Leafs in the AAA-Midlands.

With the Midlands division being upgraded to the AAA level this season, we could potentially have a battle for Triple-A supremacy on our hands between Liverpool and Nottingham. The two teams will not meet during the regular season and this separation could make for a fascinating storyline if the two can dominate their divisions as they did in 2012, with the two clubs eyeing each other from afar in anticipation of a National Baseball Championship clash.

Full details of this Sunday’s fixtures can be found on the BBF website.

2 Responses to British Baseball Beat: Herts take top spot

  1. Michael Jones April 25, 2013 at 8:31 am #

    AAA really is an exciting division this year – if MK Bucks can keep pace with the Rebels this year and other clubs in the south emerge (I fancy London Mets II to take that division), then we could be on for a cracking post-season!

    Mike

    • Matt Smith April 25, 2013 at 9:48 pm #

      Hi Mike, yep, should be a great division this year. Will be great to see the Midlands, North and South teams collide in the playoffs and I’m sure they’ll be plenty of exciting games over the regular season to get there.

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