Teams are now jockeying for position in the final few weeks of the regular season, looking to book a place in the postseason or to create some positives to build on in 2014.
Three can’t go into two in the National Baseball League
In the top-tier there’s a compelling race for the top two league positions – and automatic qualification to the National Baseball Championships (NBC) – with three teams all determined to avoid being the odd one out.
The Herts Falcons currently lead the way and are in a ridiculously good run of form having won their last 13 games in a row. The third-placed Southampton Mustangs are one game behind the Falcons in the standings and they have a 10-game winning streak on the go too. Whilst the London Mets’ 6-game winning streak doesn’t look quite so impressive in comparison with those runs, they are arguably the team to keep an eye on.
The Mets have played 18 games, four less than both of their rivals, and if they are able to complete those fixtures and win them all then they would be in pole position.
The above table includes the season win-loss records for the Falcons, Mets and Mustangs and then the numbers in brackets are their records so far against the teams they are due to play. The Mets’ games in hand are double-headers against the Bracknell Blazers and Harlow Nationals and they are already due to play those teams during their remaining three scheduled match-ups of the season.
Neither the Blazers or Nationals are scheduled to be in action on 11 August so the Mets may be able to make up one of those double-headers that Sunday, with the gap weekend of 24-25 August before the NBL playoffs start on 1 September a potential chance to make up the other double-header.
The run-in looks favourable on paper for the Mustangs as they’ve got three home double-headers against teams they have already swept over a twin-bill already this season, starting with the Essex Arrows this Sunday.
The Falcons split a double-header against the Lakenheath Diamondbacks earlier in the year so they could pose a threat to Herts’ winning streak this Sunday, although the D-Backs were unable to field a team last time out and a repeat would hand two more wins to the Falcons’ total. The Mets complete the home set for the top three – facing the Harlow Nationals – and it may be that if any of the leading sides slip up on their own turf this weekend then it could prove very costly.
There’s plenty at stake in the other NBL double-header this Sunday too. The Essex Redbacks have the daunting task of facing the Mets and Falcons in their final two double-headers of the season. After a creditable 2-4 start, the NBL newcomers have lost their last 16 games and their home match-up against the South London Pirates is their best chance of adding to their win tally.
Other key fixtures this weekend
Cartmel Valley Lions at Halton Jaguars (AAA North) – The league-leading Liverpool Trojans (12-1) will likely further improve their win tally with two scheduled games against the 0-12 Menwith Hill Patriots, leaving the Lions and Jagaurs battling it out for the second playoff spot. The two teams have split their first two double-headers this season.
Milton Keynes Bucks at Leicester Blue Sox (AAA Midlands) – The Bucks (12-2) are now just half a game behind the Nottingham Rebels (13-2) in the standings and, with their rivals not playing this weekend, Milton Keynes will jump to the top of the division if they secure a sweep. The Bucks are 3-0 against the Blue Sox so far this season.
Bristol Badgers at Cambridge Royals (AAA South) – The standings are so tight at the top of the AAA-South that several match-ups could have made this list. This clash between the teams currently lying second and third in the division is arguably the pick of the bunch.
London Mammoths at Hove Tuesday (AA South) – The division’s top two teams meet at Pavilion Field, Brighton, in Hove’s final game of a very successful regular season.
Harrogate Tigers at Sheffield Bladerunners (AA North) – The second-placed Tigers travel to Sheffield to take on the third-placed Bladerunners.
Herts Raptors at Guildford Mavericks II (A South) – The Raptors look to become the first team in Single-A to reach double digits in the win column.