National League: Eagles eye first finals

The Manchester Eagles swept the Menwith Hill Patriots on Sunday, aided by their second one-run win in three games. The scorelines were 6-3 and 8-7, and this leaves the Eagles two games ahead of the Liverpool Trojans (who did not play), with the Patriots a further 1.5 games back. There are still a good number of games to go, but at the moment the Eagles are looking like strong contenders to qualify for the Final Fours, and if they did it would be the first time for the club.

In the inaugural season of the National League North, back in 2004, the Eagles finished with an unenviable 0-20 record, but they have improved greatly since then. In 2006, they were knocked out in a play-off for the Final Fours, while last year they finished just one game back from the Patriots, who claimed the final automatic qualifying spot.

Meanwhile, in the South, the London Mets had a comfortable victory in game one of their double-header against the Richmond Flames (by a score of 11-0), but in game two were made to work harder in order to preserve their perfect record. Richmond managed to get the tying run to third base after a one-out rally in the bottom of the seventh, but starting pitcher Troy Kantor struck out the next two batters to seal a 4-3 victory for the Mets.

Like the snooker commentator who suggests that a 147 break is on after four reds and four blacks, I’m going to suggest that the Mets could repeat Croydon’s feat from last year of going unbeaten through the regular season. And if they were to do it, although they’d have two fewer wins than the Pirates registered last year, owing to a shorter season, they would have done it over an all-National League schedule (last year, a fair chunk of Croydon’s games were interleague affairs).

Of course, even if they go 24-0 in the regular season, there are no guarantees of success at the Final Fours, as Croydon found out last year.

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