After a relatively placid first week of the new National Baseball League season, bats exploded on the second Sunday, especially at Westmorland Park, where Bracknell, the defending champions, hosted the Essex Arrows. Game one saw a grand slam from Matt Maitland in the bottom of the first, but no other balls left the park until game two.
In part two of the double-header, Richard Chesterton, the third batter to the plate in the top of the opening frame for the Essex Arrows, connected for the first home run of the game. The contest’s next two round-trippers were also off Essex bats: Lance Louw and Matt Gilbert went back-to-back with the first two pitches of the third inning. In the bottom of the same inning, Michael Trask collected the first dinger of his career, and the first of the game for Bracknell.
Incredibly, the bottom of the fourth saw three more home runs, two of them clubbed by Brendan Cunliffe (pictured to the right). His first was a grand slam and his second a three-run shot, giving him seven RBI in the inning. Behind him in the line-up was Gordon Sheppard, and after the second of Cunliffe’s home runs Sheppard found a gap in the outfield and managed to make it round for an inside-the-park homer – the seventh and final of the game. Cunliffe then came onto pitch, and held Essex scoreless in the top of the fifth to terminate the game early on the mercy rule, with the score standing at 22-6.
There was a third grand slam to report from week two of the National Baseball League, hit by Gary Davison of the Southampton Mustangs against the Croydon Pirates. Records going back to 1995 do not show any other weekends in the top tier with more than one grand slam, so for three of them to be hit last Sunday was truly remarkable.
League leaders and full season statistics, which include a game-by-game breakdown of batting and pitching figures, can be found on the Great Britain Baseball Scorers Association (GBBSA) website.