After a host of exciting developments in recent weeks, the British Baseball league games from last weekend were something of an anticlimax. Not because of the games that took place, but the games that didn’t.
There were a number of empty ballfields in Britain on Sunday, either through games being postponed or games being forfeited.
Still, that gave the teams that were playing a chance to gain an advantage over their competitors. Add in an impressive schedule for the coming weekend, including the NBL Independence Day event on Saturday, and there’s plenty to take a look at.
NBL: Mets and Blazers stay ahead
The London Mets (17-2) and Bracknell Blazers (15-2) continue to blaze a trail at the top of the National Baseball League as both took double-header sweeps on Sunday.
The Blazers’ two victories came in unusual circumstances as the Richmond Flames (11-6) had to forfeit both games due to Rob Unsell suffering an injury in the first inning of the first scheduled game and the team having no substitutes to call on. The Mets got their wins at the expense of Southampton Mustangs (9-10), although the close score in the second game (8-6) was another sign that the Mustangs have settled into life in the top-tier. Essex Arrows (3-14) and Croydon Pirates (5-12) split a double-header in the other two NBL games of the day. Full details and reaction can be found in Simon Fitzjohn’s weekly report.
The results mean that the London Mets maintain top spot, with the Blazers one game behind and having stretched their lead over the third-placed Flames to four games.
NBL Independence Day event this Saturday
The eight NBL teams will gather at the Croydon Pirates’ Roundshaw Field this Saturday for the second ‘Special Event’ of the 2010 season: the NBL Independence Day event. The new concept is designed to showcase the top-tier of British baseball by bringing all the teams together and putting on a show that can bring in a crowd and generate some positive publicity for the sport. The first event, The Summer Classic at Herts’ Grovehill Ballpark, was deemed to be a success and all involved will be looking to build on that positive start. The schedule, split over two diamonds, is as follows:
12:00 Pirates v Blazers
12:00 Falcons v Arrows
15:00 Flames v Mets
15:00 Bulldogs v Mustangs
AAA: Kings keep on winning, A’s and Patriots split a double-header
The battle between the AAA-North ‘Big Four’ didn’t quite materialize as the double-header between Liverpool Trojans (13-5) and Harrogate Tigers (10-4) was postponed. Manchester A’s (12-6) would have vaulted over the Trojans into the top spot had they won both games of their double-header against Menwith Hill Patriots (11-7), but the Pats recovered from losing the opening game 9-1 and edged the second contest 2-1. The split keeps the A’s one game behind the Trojans, with the Tigers also being one back of the lead but with four games in hand on their rivals. The Tigers and A’s are due to meet for a double-header at the latter’s Allen Field this Sunday.
In the South, Bristol Badgers’ (4-4) playoff hopes took a dent as they lost twice to the league-leading Oxford Kings (11-1). The Badgers still have games in hand on their rivals, but they next face a tricky double-header against Bracknell Inferno (10-4) this Sunday that could push them further behind and make the rest of their games ‘must win’ affairs. Alternatively, the Badgers could win twice and really set up the remainder of their season. That’s what makes this AAA-South race one to watch.
Inferno are a good team but they are not unbeatable, as the Essex Redbacks showed on Sunday by winning the second game of their double-header to earn a split. It was only a few weeks ago that the Redbacks, making their BBF debut this season don’t forget, were 0-6. Now they are 5-7 and showing definite signs of a team improving and growing in confidence as the season progresses.
AA: Bolton boost title hopes, Knights make it ten wins on the spin
In the North, Bolton Robots of Doom (11-3) cemented their place at the top of the table by taking two wins from Sheffield Bladerunners (7-5), the second of which coming via a forfeit by their opponents. The Bladerunners are scheduled to host Oldham North Stars (0-13) this Sunday, while the Robots are away to Humber Pilots (5-4).
In the South, Essex Archers’ (8-3) plan to showcase baseball as part of the Waltham Abbey Town Show on Saturday didn’t come to fruition as Thames Valley Bisons (4-9) forfeited the two scheduled games, although baseball was featured as part of the Show on Sunday thanks to the Essex Arrows and Croydon Pirates. In the other two games, Richmond Knights (10-1) made it ten wins in a row as they defeated Windsor Bears (7-5) twice. This Sunday’s games include a double-header between Croydon Pirates III and Essex Archers and the Pool A-leading Poole Piranhas hosting the Bisons.
In the Midlands, MK Bucks (5-5) and Birmingham Maple Leafs (9-4) earned one win apiece in their double-header, setting the stage for Leicester Blue Sox (8-4) to close within half a game of Birmingham at the top of the table. The Blue Sox got there, but not quite in the way they would have liked. Mildenhall Bulldogs 2 (1-8) had to forfeit their two games against Leicester, handing the Blue Sox two 7-0 victories. They will be hoping their club mates, Leicester Blue Sox 2 (2-8), can do them a huge favour by taking a game or two from the MK Bucks this Sunday.
A: Dragons defeat the Rays in the battle of Pool leaders
The battle between the Pool A and Pool B leaders went the way of Richmond Dragons (8-2) by a score of 6-3. They now have a one-game leader over Guildford Mavericks in Pool A, while Braintree Rays’ (5-3)lead in Pool B is down to half a game over Old Timers. The Rays’ local rivals Chelmsford Clippers (5-5)may have seen their hopes of sneaking into the playoffs put to rest on Sunday as they had to forfeit their game against Bracknell Pyros (2-6). This Sunday, the Old Timers host the Dragons, while the Herts Raptors seek their first win of the season with a game against the Rays.
Great Britain National Rosters announced
On the international scene, Team GB announced their Seniors, Juniors and Cadets rosters for their respective tournaments this summer.
The Seniors are heading to Germany for the European Baseball Championships, aiming to build on their excellent silver-medal showing in the 2007 event and the lessons learned from last year’s World Cup campaign. New Head Coach Pat Doyle and General Manager Jason Greenberg have put together a 40-man preliminary roster that will be reduced to 24 before the tournament begins on 22 July.
The Junior National Team are competing at the CEB European Junior Qualifier in Attnang-Puchheim, Austria, at the beginning of August, while the Cadet National Team will travel to Nykoping, Sweden for the CEB European Cadet Qualifier held between 19 and 24 July.