Home British baseball British Baseball Beat: Falcons flying on 7-game winning streak

British Baseball Beat: Falcons flying on 7-game winning streak

by Matt Smith

There’s a new sole leader in the National Baseball League (NBL).

The Herts Falcons (12-4) are flying high with a one-game lead over both the London Mets (9-3) and the Southampton Mustangs (11-5) after they swept a double-header on the road against the Bracknell Blazers (7-9) last Sunday.

The victories, by scores of 9-1 and 13-1, extended the Falcons’ winning streak to seven games, firmly establishing them as the form team in the NBL.

The Southampton Mustangs and Harlow Nationals (9-7) are also both on a good run having won their last four games each respectively. The Mustangs got the better of the Lakenheath Diamondbacks (7-7) at RAF Feltwell last Sunday, whilst the Nationals picked up two wins at home against the Essex Arrows (7-9) to make it six wins from eight games for the two-time reigning champions.

Something will have to give this Sunday as the Mustangs and Nationals meet for a double-header at the latter’s Northbrooks Park. The two teams met in the reverse fixture on Opening Day back in April and took one win apiece.

In fact, all four double-headers in the NBL this Sunday are a repeat of the Opening Day schedule.

Herts Falcons will travel to Croydon to take on the South London Pirates (4-10). The division-leaders would seem a good bet to complete a sweep on the back of their current winning streak and their broom-waving against the same opponents on Opening Day. However, the Pirates’ surprising win last Sunday in the second game of a double-header against the London Mets should warn Herts off from underestimating their opponents at all.

The Mets, currently dealing with several injuries, have now lost three of their last four games after winning their first eight in a row. It’s far from being a crisis, but they will be keen to get back on track this Sunday against the Lakenheath Diamondbacks, who they defeated twice to start their season in style on Opening Day.

As for the Essex Redbacks (2-14), they will travel to the Bracknell Blazers carrying the weight of a ten-game losing streak. The Blazers were the Redbacks’ first NBL opponents in this their debut season and what better way to end a losing sequence than by gaining a measure of revenge against the team that ‘welcomed’ them to the top-tier with two defeats.

Around the leagues

Elsewhere, the Nottingham Rebels are now 11-0 in the AAA-Midlands after two victories over the Birmingham Maple Leafs last Sunday. The Stourbridge Titans (1-11) will have the next attempt to end the Rebels’ run, although the odds are in Nottingham’s favour to extend their streak to 12 games.

The Liverpool Trojans lead the way in the AAA-North with a 10-1 record and, once again, you would expect them to add two more wins to their tally this Sunday as they take on AA-North teams the Oldham North Stars and Bolton Robots of Doom. Bolton did get the better of the AAA-North’s Halton Jaguars last Sunday and after a stuttering start to the season, losing four of their first five games, the Robots have won five in a row to pull themselves back into contention in the AA-North division, which the Hull Scorpions still lead with an 11-1 record.

The Cambridge Royals and Oxford Kings couldn’t be separated last Sunday as the two teams split a double-header and they are locked together at the top of the AAA-South division with 10-4 records. The Royals travel to Richmond to face the Knights this Sunday, whilst the Kings are at home against the Herts Ravens.

Hove Tuesday (9-1) won two games against the Kent Mariners last Sunday to stretch their winning streak to nine games and to keep the Daws Hill Spitfires (7-0) behind them in the AA-South even though the Spitfires beat the Herts Hawks 15-3 to continue their unbeaten start to the season. Both teams face tough games this Sunday, with Hove taking on the 8-2 Guildford Mavericks and Daws Hill hosting the 8-2 London Mammoths.

As for the A-South, the Herts Raptors and Milton Keynes Coyotes both earned a victory to improve their records to 5-2. The team on the rise is the 2013 debutants Haverhill Blackjacks. After dropping their first two games of the season, the Blackjacks have won four in a row and they will face a good test of their recent progress this Sunday against the 5-2 London Marauders.

iScore therefore I am

Last week, the British Baseball Federation endorsed the iScore app as the preferred scorekeeping application for British baseball.

As an entrenched pencil-and-paper scorer, the prospect of scorekeeping being reduced to tapping on an iPhone does sadden me a little (‘enhanced features’ for me means using coloured pens), but then again my scorekeeping is normally done for enjoyment rather than what you could describe as an administrative task.

There are various benefits to British baseball fans of teams using the iScore system. Using the technology may make the task of scorekeeping more appealing to more people for a start, subsequently resulting in more records being created.

We then have the benefit of the MLB.com Gameday-esque iScorecast feature that allows fans to ‘watch’ the game from anywhere in the world. Finally it should make the collation and publication of stats an easier task and therefore, hopefully, see more of this data collected and available for fans and researchers to look at.

A number of teams have previously used the GameChanger scoring system that works in a similar way to iScore; however you have to pay the company a ‘Premium’ subscription fee to get to individual player stats (even for box scores from individual games). For a developing sport that wants to get more people interested in the domestic leagues, having the stats behind a paywall was a major drawback and one that the iScore system will rectify as the stats will be imported directly into the BBF website, on public display where they should be.

Hopefully the move to iScore will prove to be a positive step for teams and fans alike.

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