The 2010 regular season came to an end on Sunday as the final playoff place in the National Baseball League was decided and the final games in the AAA North and South were played.
However, we start in the AA and A leagues as they got the 2010 postseason underway on Saturday and Sunday.
AA: Blue Sox and Maple Leafs to meet again, Knights face Piranhas in the South
We’re set for a repeat of the great Midlands title decider from just three weeks ago this Sunday, after Leicester Blue Sox and Birmingham Maple Leafs won their first-round playoffs against Northern opposition.
The Blue Sox beat Sheffield Bladerunners 19-9, while the Maple Leafs just fell short of equalling their rival’s scoring exploits as they picked up an 18-1 victory over Bolton Robots of Doom. Western Park will once again be the venue as these two great rivals are set to collide following the double-header split on 8 August. The Blue Sox won the Midlands league title that day, but the Maple Leafs won the second game and both matches were decided by just a single run. These are two even sides who know each other well and there’s a bit of spice between them, so it should be a belter of a game. Get down to Western Park in Leicester if you can for first pitch at 12pm this Saturday.
There were no surprises in the Southern section of the AA playoffs. Pool A winners Poole Piranhas defeated Essex Archers 17-3 and Pool B winners Richmond Knights extended their winning streak to 18 games with a 10-6 victory over Windsor Bears. The Knights took two comfortable victories over the Piranhas when they met for a double-header on 1 August, but anything can happen in a single-game showdown and Richmond will not be taking Poole lightly when they meet on Saturday.
A: Clippers slay the Dragons to set up a clash with the Mavericks, Bucks and Pilots meet
We didn’t get a surprise in the AA playoffs, but we undoubtedly did in the A playoffs. Chelmsford Clippers produced an incredible display to beat the 11-2 Richmond Dragons by a score of 16-12. As noted by club secretary Michael Jones, the game ended in dramatic circumstances as Canadian Ken MacKenzie robbed the Dragons of a potential three-run homer for the last out and then went head-over-heels over the outfield fence. Richmond appealed the call, but the umpires determined that the out had been made in fair territory and the game was over.
The Clippers’ reward is a second round game away to Guildford Mavericks after they got the better of Braintree Rays 22-14. It was a convincing win for Guildford in a game played in slightly less than ideal conditions. As the Mavericks’ excellent match report states: “Despite pitcher Matt Bruce promising to ‘bring the kitchen sink’, it was Braintree who gave him the draining board to go with it, as the local authority had failed to remark the field, and the only thing used to build the mound, was a spirit level”.
In the Midlands/Northern section, MK Bucks gained an impressive 22-3 victory over Manchester Torrent, while Humber Pilots managed to avert a complete sweep of the Northern teams by the Midlanders thanks to a 36-12 win over Leicester Blue Sox II.
NBL: Heartache for Herts
There was heartache for Herts Baseball Club as they dropped out of the playoff places on the final day of the regular season. They lost both games of a double-header against Mildenhall Bulldogs, meaning that the Bulldogs jumped up from seventh to fifth and Herts Falcons slipped into seventh behind Croydon Pirates. Richmond Flames finished in third place with a 17-11 record thanks to two final day victories over Bracknell Blazers that also meant London Mets finished ahead of the Blazers to top the regular season league.
The NBL playoff round will be held on Saturday at Richmond’s Connare Field. The third placed Flames face Croydon Pirates, while Southampton Mustangs take on Mildenhall Bulldogs. The winners will join the Mets and Blazers in the NBC.
AAA: Eagles and Inferno battling for the final spot
In the North, Menwith Hill Patriots (18-6) signed off with two wins against Glasgow (1-23), but the Scottish side pushed them all the way in the first game, narrowly losing 14-13. In the South, London Metros earned two wins against Bristol Badgers to leave them joined together on 8-16 records.
Liverpool Trojans, Menwith Hill Patriots and Oxford Kings are already planning for the NBC, with the final AAA spot due to be decided on Saturday as Herts Eagles (18-6) host Bracknell Inferno (16-8).