On a sun-drenched afternoon the players and fans of the Herts Baseball Little League came down to Grovehill Ballpark for the final League day of the season to determine the 2008 Champions. At the end of the day, three teams were still locked in a stalemate at the top of the standings, which meant that everyone will be coming back for one more final day to decide the Winners.
Before the Final Day games, the Herts Cubs were in the lead and they knew that they had their destiny in their own hands. They needed one win to make sure that no one jumps above them. Two wins, and they are the Champions. Even if they were to lose the first game of the day, a win against the Yankees in the second game would still guarantee them the title. The Yankees were one game back on the Cubs and needed to make up that deficit over the two games of the day. The Red Sox were playing catch-up with two games back on the leaders. They needed to win both their games and hope that the Yankees lose to the Blue Jays and beat the Cubs, which at the start of the day seemed like a very, very unlikely scenario.
With all the attention on the three teams at the top of the table, the last-placed Blue Jays caused a major upset by beating the Yankees 4-3. Fearing that they may have blown their chances of becoming Champions, anxious Yankee players and coaches headed towards Field 1 hoping for a Red Sox win against the Cubs. Their hopes were realized. The Red Sox produced their best performance of the season shutting down the Cubs 5-0.
The Cubs may have lost but they knew that a win against the Yankees in the final game of the season and the trophy is theirs. This proved to be one of the most nail-biting games of the year. The Yankees took a 5-2 lead going into the final inning, but the Cubs were not giving up. Despite the Yankees recording two quick outs, the Cubs managed to load the bases. Up stepped the league’s home run leader, Lewis Paterson (3 HR), to face GB National team pitcher Marty Cullen Jr in a power-versus-power duel. With the count full at 3 balls and 2 strikes, Paterson kept fighting, fouling off some tough pitches. In the eighth pitch of the at bat, Cullen threw a hard inside fastball. Great pitch but it glanced off Paterson’s leg. An epic at bat which made the score 5-3 and the bases were still loaded. Cullen Jr may have been shaken up by this, but with the tying run on second base he kept his composure striking out the next batter to secure the win for the Yankees.
The unthinkable had happened. The Herts Cubs needed to win only one of their two games to become Champions but lost both. The Red Sox on the other hand have put together a 5-game winning streak just at the right time and the outcome of all the other games was exactly what they were hoping for. Not even J.K. Rawlings could have written a better script.
In sports such as football a tie in the league table is usually resolved on the basis of goal difference. In baseball, however, the tradition is that if teams have the same win-loss record at the end of the season they play an extra tie-break game. The Herts Baseball Little League will follow the true baseball tradition and so the season has been extended and extra games will be played.
With the Herts Cubs having a better head-to-head and run difference record than the Yankees and the Red Sox, they have secured their place in the Championship deciding game. To determine their opponent, the Yankees and the Red Sox will battle it out next week.
This is the schedule for the “final” Final day of the season next Saturday, 20 September.
FIRST SET OF GAMES
Red Sox @ Yankees (to determine the second Championship Game Finalist)
Cubs @ Blue Jays (exhibition game)
SECOND SET OF GAMES
Yankees or Red Sox @ Cubs (Herts Little League Championship Game)
Blue Jays @ Yankees or Red Sox (3rd/4th Place Final)