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British Baseball Beat: The playoffs begin

by Matt Smith

bbbHlsqThe 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).

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Michael Jones August 26, 2010 - 3:29 pm

We’re all really looking forward to the Guildford match. We sneaked a tight one earlier in the season and the reports on their Facebook page suggest that revenge will be served. I can’t wait!

Michael Jones
Club Secretary
Chelmsford Clippers Baseball Club

Adam Brown August 26, 2010 - 4:16 pm

Last year teams from the same league were deliberately kept apart until the final. Clearly an excellent, well-thought-out idea, as why would anybody choose to play a team that you had already played on 5 occasions that year instead of testing yourself against a team from another division. The playoffs are fun precisely because of that leap into the unknown.

Whoever it was that decided to rearrange the fixtures in this manner needs their head examining!

First they remove the camping and socialising element, then they move the playoffs to a saturday to make it awkward for people, now they remove the element of playing teams from different leagues. What next?

Matthew Crawshaw August 26, 2010 - 9:05 pm

Home team having to pay for the umpire? (twice!)

Matthew Crawshaw August 26, 2010 - 9:07 pm

AA/A Southern League effectively get a bye into the final.

It’s obviously a conspiracy to stop the Midlands league dominating the AA/A NBC again 😉

Roger August 27, 2010 - 5:19 pm

Nice work by the BBF with the playoffs at Richmond tomorrow. Chance to see two elimination games back to back with good teams involved. Hope the weather stays good!!

With the Final4 next week are A/AA/AAA and NBL all at Herts? They better have the NBL on the new diamond their, would be stupid to put the best league on that back field.

Joe Gray August 27, 2010 - 11:07 pm

Hi Roger,

See this for full details on the finals:

In summary, the A and AA levels have a one-game final at Hemel, while the AAA and NBL levels have double-elimination finals there.


Joe Gray August 27, 2010 - 11:10 pm

With regard to the choice of field, the NBL is on Diamond 1, which I think means the one farther from the clubhouse. I think the rationale – and I agree with them on this – is that the slightly bigger dimensions and full foul territory on the back diamond make it the right choice for the NBL.

Roger August 28, 2010 - 8:35 am

Thanks Joe. Good to have all the divisions at the same location which should mean the biggest crowd for the year at Herts.

The new field had great reviews after the 9 inning games there early in the season from the NBL players. Hopefully an extra 15 or 20 feet down the lines isnt the reason they decide to play on the back field. The back one has literally a 3 inch mound and a hill down the left field line! Its also much easy to watch the game for a fan on the front field.

If the NBL aren’t on that front field there will be a lot of unhappy players

Maybe could have a poll about which ground is better suited for the NBL Final4? Or even some actual confirmation from the people who run the playoffs would be nice.

Joe Gray August 28, 2010 - 12:26 pm

Hi Roger,

It’s a very good point about the relative locations of the field. A newcomer to the sport would certainly form the impression at the finals that the top level was being played on the front field and the lower level on the back field, because of the clustering of fans, food vendors, and PA system around the former. Getting the right mound is definitely an important thing – but in terms of the relative merits of left field (hilly versus limited foul territory) I guess it comes down to personal preference.

I know that the event organizers have been putting a lot of thought into which is the best set-up.



Matthew Crawshaw August 28, 2010 - 8:45 pm

Blue Sox advance to NBC after defeating Maple Leafs in another tight game 10-9.

Nice to see that Leicester will be sharing centre stage with the NBL finale on diamond 1.

Joe Gray September 1, 2010 - 11:42 am

An update on the diamonds – the names have been switched so the newer diamond – i.e. the one closer to the car park – is now Diamond 1 (where the NBL stuff will take place).

Roger September 1, 2010 - 2:47 pm

Good work Joe!

Joe Gray September 1, 2010 - 9:31 pm

Cheers Roger – although all I did was misinterpret what “Diamond 1” meant originally and then managed to find out what it really meant. They had it your suggested way all along. It was just me being a bit slow to pick up on the second diamond to be built becoming “Diamond 1” by name.

All’s well that ends well!



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