In the biggest game of their nine year history the Falcons proved their readiness to move up to the Premiership of British baseball.  Theirs was an emphatic win over this season’s nearest rivals the Croydon Pirates. The teams have played two closely fought games in this years regular season with the Falcons were victors both times.


As was expected according to form the Falcons bats out-powered the Pirates early on. The Falcon’s batting line up seems to have no weak links this year with the entire order able to produce hits. By the end of the third inning the Falcons were 7 runs to 2 up.


The Pirates were not prepared to go quietly and over the next innings steadily caught up. By the time the Falcons came to bat in fourth inning the Pirates had pulled the game level at 7 all. In a tense half inning the Falcons only managed to produce 2 runs leaving two runners stranded on base. The Pirates were back in contention.


During the fifth inning the pitching strengths began to have an effect. The Falcons had relieved starting pitcher Takashi Hirai with season new comer Jim Denison. The Pirates were forced to continue with rapidly tiring pitcher Saranello. The result was immediate; the Pirates could not hit Denison’s fastball and left the fifth empty handed, whilst the Falcons racked up a massive 9 runs. All the Pirates could do was replace Saranello with the catcher Lee Antonio. This seemed to upset the balance of their team and the Falcons capitalised.


The sixth inning followed the same pattern; the Pirates managed to squeeze in two runs but once again the Falcons battery stepped up and hit another nine runs. Every single batter got on base and all but one scored.


The game was now beyond Croydon’s reach at 27 runs to 9, but they put up a spirited performance in the 7th  inning. They needed to score 8 runs to avoid the automatic 10 run slaughter rule and continue the game into the full nine innings. They hit the Falcons for 6 runs. It was not enough. The final play of the game saw pitcher Jim Denison easily throw out Jeff May at first base. The game was over. The Falcons had finally earned their promotion.

Their last promotion chance had been in 1999 against the Richmond Flames where they narrowly missed out in the bottom of the ninth inning, a defeat they have spent the last 5 years working hard to put right. This year’s promotion was a fitting end for a strong side that under new manager Lee Manning has only lost one league game all season.


The Falcons started the celebrations in true baseball fashion by soaking Manning with the contents of the team ice box, cheered on by the largest crowd of supporters the Grovehill team has ever seen. The celebrations carried on into the night – another Falcon tradition!


Playing for the Falcons: Andy Cornish, Paul Raulbould, John Del Borrello, Jim Denison, John Oliver, Shunji Kakutani, Geoff Hare, Aspi Dimitrov, Paul Auchterlounie, Lee Manning, Takashi Hirai,  Eddie Sierocinski, Dave Hamilton, Kal Dimitrov, Rod Naghar, Mark Houchin, Jacob Kikel


written by Paul Auchterlounie

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