British Baseball Beat: League titles for Liverpool and Bolton

bbbHlsqThere were celebrations this week as a pair of teams wrapped up their league titles, while others made sure of a playoff spot in the British Baseball Federation 2010 season competition.

National Baseball League: Falcons and Bulldogs set for a showdown

Baseball schedules have an uncanny knack of setting up thrilling finales and that’s going to be the case this Sunday in the NBL.  Five of the six playoff qualifiers are now known, but there is one place still up for grabs after Mildenhall Bulldogs (8-16) swept a double-header against Southampton Mustangs (13-15) and Herts Falcons (9-17) could only manage a split against Essex Arrows (4-24).

The Arrows will be extremely pleased to have added a fourth win to their final record in what has been a challenging first year in the top-tier and they did it in style by turning around a 3-2 deficit into a 7-3 victory in the final inning.  A great comeback for one team is a devastating blow for the other, so credit Jason Greenberg’s men for showing ‘bouncebackability’ and winning the second game 15-4. 

Those results set up a playoff decider at RAF Feltwell this weekend between the Bulldogs and Falcons.  A sweep for the home team will see them jump over Herts to claim the final playoff place, while the Falcons need just one win to hold off the Bulldogs’ challenge. The teams that finish 3rd to 6th will meet in an NBL playoff day and that will take place at Richmond’s Connare Field after the Flames (15-11)earned a split with the league-leading London Mets (24-4) to secure third place in the standings.  Second placed Bracknell Blazers (21-3) won two games against Croydon Pirates (10-18).  Reaction from the games can be found in Simon Fitzjohn’s report

AAA: Trojans take the title

Liverpool Trojans (19-5) are celebrating their first AAA North title since 2007 after winning both games of a double-header against Menwith Hill Patriots (16-6).  The Trojans went into the game knowing that only a sweep would do if they wanted to be crowned as champions.  It looked like the chance had passed them by in the first game as the Patriots scored four runs in the fourth inning to take a 4-2 lead, but Liverpool hit straight back with a run in the bottom of the inning and then won the game in the seventh and final inning 5-4 as starting pitcher Ron Vondy stroked home the game-winning hit. 

That gave Martin Godsall the opportunity to pitch his team to the title in the second game and he didn’t disappoint.  He limited the Patriots to a solitary run as the Trojans won 5-1, sparking scenes of jubilation among the Liverpool players and the home supporters at Bootle Stadium.  The Patriots still have two regular season games to play away to Glasgow (1-21), but they will join the Trojans in the AAA NBC regardless of the results in those two contests. 

The champions are still to be crowned in the South as Oxford Kings (18-4) and Herts Eagles (18-6) split a double-header in “two very competitive and closely fought games”.  The Kings now need to win one of their two games this Sunday against Bracknell Inferno (15-7) to win the league.  If Inferno sweep the Kings, the Eagles will take the title.  Whoever finishes second will face Bracknell Inferno in a single-game playoff after they took two hard-fought wins over London Metros to guarantee them third place in the standings.  Essex Redbacks (14-10) added 3-1 to their season record after they split a double-header with Bristol Badgers (8-14) and were awarded two forfeit wins over Kent Mariners (0-22).  Inferno’s wins meant that the Redbacks missed out on a playoff berth, but they can be extremely proud of their efforts in their first BBF season. 

AA: Bolton win the AA North

Bolton Robots of Doom (18-6) edged two games over Humber Pilots (14-8) to win the AA North.  The Pilots had swept a double-header over Bolton on 4 July, so it would have been a particularly sweet way for the Robots to win the league.  Sheffield Bladerunners (16-8) leap-frogged the Pilots into second place after they won both games of a double-header against Oldham North Stars (0-24).   Humber still have two games left to play at home to Manchester Torrent (9-13).  If they win both games they will equal the Bladerunners’ win-loss record and it looks like the Pilots would take second spot on account of Sheffield’s forfeited game against Bolton on 27 June.

Milton Keynes Bucks (13-7) outscored Leicester Blue Sox 2 (4-16) by a combined score of 51-6 as they took both games of a double-header on the road.  The Bucks and Blue Sox 2 will both head on to the A playoffs, while the champion Blue Sox (15-5) and Birmingham Maple Leafs (15-5) compete in the AA playoffs.  They are all waiting for the final standings in the AA North before knowing who their opponents will be, but Leicester and Birmingham are sure to be confident whoever they meet after their starring roles on ITV Central Tonight this week.

In the South, Herts Hawks (5-13) signed off their season with two victories over Brentwood Stags (2-16).  The Hawks called up a few players from their Single-A Raptors team, for the British equivalent of an end-of-season ‘cup of coffee’ (surely a ‘cup of tea’ over here?!), and the players acquitted themselves well as they won by scores of 9-1 and 13-11.

A: Mavericks make it to the playoffs

Guildford Mavericks (9-4) will join Richmond Dragons in the A playoffs as they secured second place in Pool A by beating London Marauders (5-7) 22-2.  Southampton Mustangs II (8-4) picked up a forfeit win over Bracknell Pyros (4-9) to keep within half a game of the Mavericks and they could equal Guildford’s season record if they win their final game at home to Braintree Rays (6-6).  However, the Mustangs II have a forfeit against their name (coincidentally a game against the Mavericks) and that means the Mavericks will finish second on the tie-break rule regardless of the Mustang II’s final result.

As explained by Chelmsford Clippers’ Club Secretary Michael Jones in the comments on last week’s column, the outcome of Pool B is still up in the air and it will be fascinating to see how that plays out.

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11 Responses to British Baseball Beat: League titles for Liverpool and Bolton

  1. Cleetis August 19, 2010 at 7:42 am #

    Are Mildenhall and Bracknell not making up their doubleheader that was supposed to be played 18 July? Seems only fair that everyone play the full 28 games and get a chance at the playoffs! Doesn’t Bracknell still have a shot at the #1 seed with the games against Richmond and Mildenhall? With a sweep of Herts and a split with Bracknell, Mildenhall could be the 5th seed with 11 wins. I havent heard of Bracknell and Mildenhall making up that doubleheader which could have a big impact on the playoffs!

  2. Michael Jones August 19, 2010 at 9:51 am #

    We found out the outcome:

    After the Marauders lost to Guildford, and the non-results, Braintree finished second and the Clippers third.

    However, the Old Timers have decided not to participate in the post-season, meaning the Clippers go up to second to play against the highly-fancied Richmond Dragons (which the Dragons have kindly rearranged for Sunday so we would have the numbers to play; thinking we were out of the playoffs most of us made plans for Saturday), whilst the Rays take the Old Timers’ spot and host the Mavericks in Braintree on Saturday.

    And that’s A South explained!

    Michael Jones
    Club Secretary
    Chelmsford Clippers Baseball Club

  3. Matthew Crawshaw August 19, 2010 at 1:32 pm #

    ….In the Midlands/North AA/A bracket:

    Bladerunners @ Blue Sox 1

    Maple Leafs @ Robots of Doom

    Blue Sox 2 @ Pilots

    Torrent @ Bucks

  4. Matt Smith August 19, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    Michael & Matthew: thanks for the updates. Good luck to both of your clubs in the upcoming playoffs.

    Cleetis: I’m assuming the double-header will not now be played as there wouldn’t be a spare date for it. As to how that will be taken into account in the final standings, I’ll hopefully get an answer in due course.

  5. Matt Smith August 20, 2010 at 7:00 am #

    Re the Bracknell-Mildenhall double-header, Aspi Dimitrov, Southern Senior League Commissioner, kindly got back to me about this.

    Despite the best efforts of all involved, it’s ultimately not been possible to find another date for the double-header. Therefore the games will not be played. The BBF regulations state that if teams have played an unequal amount of games, the “Games Behind” indicator will determine the standings.

    Therefore Bracknell have a chance to clinch first place if they sweep Richmond (tie-break rule is in Bracknell’s favour) and Mildenhall have a chance to clinch a playoff place by sweeping Herts. A split for the Bulldogs will mean they drop to 7th on the tie break rule.

  6. Cleetis August 20, 2010 at 7:36 am #

    Thanks Matt for the clarification!

  7. Joe Gray August 20, 2010 at 6:20 pm #

    The second game at Roundshaw between Croydon and Bracknell was the best regular-season action I have seen anywhere since the double-header between London and Croydon in August 2007 where Croydon gained a split to deprive London of an unbeaten record.

    Croydon led 3-1, then Bracknell shot out into a 5-3 lead, but a Carlos Diaz single up the middle drove in two Pirates in the bottom of the seventh to send the game into extra innings.

    If anyone at Roundshaw thought that this game did not matter, they only needed to watch Diaz standing at first after his game-tying single. He was pumping his fists as if he had just hit a cross-court winner to take the Wimbledon title. And he was fully justified to do so. The grit shown by the Pirates in the seventh inning was the cumination of over 12 months’ hard work by Alex von Rosenbach, Matt Schwartz, Dave Ward and others in turning the club around from a winless 2008.

    The game was won in the tenth, with Bracknell plating the only other run in the contest in the top of that frame. They were deserving winners of a game played in a great spirit, but Croydon had proved that they were really ready to mix it up with the big teams once more.

    On the subject of the National Baseball League, I don’t believe that what Simon Fitzjohn has written in his NBL report is correct. For a start, a Falcons sweep would vault them above the Pirates. In addition, there is one scenario in which the Falcons and Bulldogs could both reach the play-offs. There was some talk of the Bulldogs making up their postponed double-header against Bracknell on Saturday, in addition to playing Herts on Sunday. If Mildenhall swept Bracknell and then Herts won one game against Mildnehall with the other being rained out, then – by my calculations – the Pirates would miss out.

  8. Joe Gray August 20, 2010 at 7:47 pm #

    Totally unrelated comment…

    This is a must-see film for baseball fans (note – it’s just after lunch, not just after midnight):

    The Rookie (2001)
    Sunday 22nd August on BBC2 from 12:10pm to 2:10pm
    Touching drama based on the true life story of a coach who dropped out of minor league baseball because of an injury, aged 23, and coached high school baseball during the twelve years since. His team’s surprise success means he must honour a promise to try out as a pitcher for a professional team, with inspiring results. With Dennis Quaid, Rachel Griffiths, Jay Hernandez, Beth Grant, and Angus T Jones.

  9. The Cram-man August 21, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    So technically the London Mets could finish with a higher winning percentage then the Bracknell Blazers but come second?

  10. Michael Jones August 22, 2010 at 6:42 pm #

    Chelmsford Clippers 16-12 Richmond Dragons

    Both teams were massively improved from the first fixture of the season, but Chelmsford edged this nail-biter with Ken MacKenzie in centre field robbing a would-be three-run home run to make the final out, then fell over the fence.

    Superb game, the Clippers’ charge continues. I’ll get our full match report up sometime this evening.

    Michael Jones
    Club Secretary
    Chelmsford Clippers Baseball Club

  11. Matt Smith August 22, 2010 at 7:06 pm #

    Great win for the Clippers. Congratulations

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