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British Baseball Beat: From Three to Two

by Matt Smith

There are now only two teams in the British Baseball Leagues that remain unbeaten after the London Mets’ brilliant winning start to their campaign was ended at eight games last Sunday.

The Nottingham Rebels and Daws Hill Spitfires kept their perfect seasons going, but the Herts Falcons won both games of a double-header against the Mets and showed just how competitive the National Baseball League is this year in the process.

British Baseball Federation NBL report

AAA-South report

AA-South report

The Mets may have lost their unbeaten record but, as you would expect, they showed plenty of quality whilst trying to keep the run alive. At 2-0 down heading into the top of the seventh inning of the opener, the Mets scored twice and could have taken the lead had reliever Jordan Farkas not managed to escape a bases-loaded jam. With three Mets base-runners left stranded, the momentum swung firmly in the Falcons’ favour and they completed the 3-2 victory in the bottom of the inning with a walk-off single by Dave House.

The second game was just as tight as the Falcons prevailed by a score of 4-2. The fact that the games were low-scoring affairs suggests that they were two crisply-played games and that impression is emphatically backed up by Cristobal Hiche’s closing comments in the Herts’ Website review of the double-header:

“I have been saying it for the last two weeks and I’ll repeat it again, this is quality baseball not only by the Falcons but by most teams in the NBL. Every game is going to be close with great pitching, good hitting, and fantastic defence. Just as an example, only 2 errors were made in the 2nd game by both teams combined! That’s MLB level right there.

Just take a look at the box score and replace the Falcons name with the Yankees and you would think this box score was taken out from the MLB subway series (i.e. Yankees-Mets rivalry). So come down to the ballpark and check out the Falcons next time”.

Despite the Mets’ two losses, they remain at the top of the National Baseball League standings with an 8-2 record having played four games less than both the second-placed Falcons (10-4) and the third-placed Southampton Mustangs (9-5), who gained two comprehensive victories over the Essex Redbacks in what was a thoroughly disappointing day for Redbacks Manager Vince Warner.

The London Mets’ pitching has been excellent so far this season and the team has conceded an average of only 2.8 runs per game through their first ten contests, over half a run better than the next best 3.5 (over 14 games) allowed per game by the Mustangs. At the other end of the scale, NBL-newcomers the Redbacks are currently giving themselves a mountain to climb while conceding an average of 11.19 runs per game in their sixteen contests.

As for run-scoring, the reigning champion Harlow Nationals lead the way both in actual runs scored (103) and runs scored per game (7.36). They added 21 to their total last Sunday with 8-6 and 13-0 victories over the South London Pirates.

The second game was most notable for an impressive pitching debut by 15-year-old Marty Cullen Junior. He went the full five innings in a mercy-rule shortened game, shutting out the Pirates and allowing only two hits. They were two much-needed wins by the Nationals who evened up their record to 7-7 and put themselves firmly back into the playoff race.

Photos from Grovehill Ballpark

The Mets-Falcons double-header didn’t just produce some quality baseball. It also inspired some great shots by intrepid baseball photographers, most notably:

Jim Garnett

Richard Lee

And our own Joe Gray (@Project_COBB):


Rebels and Spitfires

Outside of the NBL, the Nottingham Rebels and Daws Hill Spitfires remain as the two unbeaten teams.

The Rebels have won their first nine games of the season and lead the AAA-Midlands division by 2.5 games ahead of the MK Bucks (6-2). The Birmingham Maple Leafs will be the latest team looking to end the Rebels’ run as they host the division  leaders at their Marston Green field this Sunday. The Leafs suffered two defeats, by scores of 14-3 and 12-2, when the two teams met in Nottingham back on 21 April, but they go into this fixture in good form having won their last three games.

As for Daws Hill, they sit on top of the AA-South division with a 6-0 record, just ahead of Hove Tuesday (7-1) and the London Mammoths (7-2), with games in hand on both. The Spitfires took two wins on the road against the Brentwood Stags last Sunday and go for win number seven this weekend in a home game against the Herts Hawks. The Hawks are 2-3 so far this season and will be eager to return to action after their scheduled game against the Sidewinders last weekend had to be postponed.

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