This article was first published on www.britishbaseball.org

From NBL special correspondent Simon Fitzjohn

It was a day for surprises, as Croydon toppled Bracknell.  It was a day for teams to emerge from a slump, as Herts pasted Essex.  It was a day for close-run things, as Southampton squeezed Mildenhall.  And it was a day for the London Mets to further stretch their lead in the standings with a win over Richmond.  All eight teams took to the fields at Croydon on July 3 for a National Baseball League bonanza.

Croydon Pirates @ Bracknell Blazers

The story of the day undoubtedly came from the host Pirates, who sneaked by the high-flying Blazers 12-11 in a thriller. Croydon jumped out to a 6-0 lead early on, only for Bracknell to slowly chip away at that lead. The Pirates again surged ahead, taking a 12-9 lead into the bottom of the final inning, with the Blazers scoring twice before their rally came to an end.  Tim Ssali took the win, and also clubbed a home run along with Alex Von Rosenbach. For Bracknell, Mike Cattermole was saddled with the loss. Pirates coach Dave Ward said: “This is a great day for us. Over the past few weeks we have had to try and fight our way back into games but today we took the lead early. It looked like we could still throw it away at the end but we held on. This is very uplifting for us and we know we can compete with the better sides in this league.” Bracknell coach Rob Rance said: “All around it was a bad day at the office. We just did not turn up to play. I do not want to dwell too much on the result as it was an awful performance. But credit Croydon as they played very well and I do not want to take that from them.”

Richmond Flames @ London Mets

The clash of the heavyweights took a late twist as the Mets battled back for a 12-5 win. Trailing 5-0 early on, London chipped away but took until the sixth inning to get back into the contest, where a flurry of runs eased them into the lead. Jason Roberts took the win, his 11th of a magnificent season on the mound. Mets coach Alex Pike said: “It was a tough game. Richmond really came out firing. We kept chipping away but we did not find an answer until late. I am pretty happy with the boys as they did what they had to do to find a way to win.”

Herts Falcons @ Essex Arrows

Herts got things back on track by pounding the Arrows 18-6, backed by strong pitching from Pete Kikel. Richard Chesterton took the loss as Essex were well beaten in a battle between teams looking to kick-start their seasons. Herts’ Aspi Dimitrov said: “It is a real boost for us to get a win like this. We have suffered a bit recently and it has started to weigh on the minds of the players. It is great to get back on the winning trail. Apart from the top couple of teams it is still a tight league and we have to be looking for a play-off spot.”

Mildenhall Bulldogs @ Southampton Mustangs

Another thriller saw Southampton move their season record to 10-10 after a comeback 7-6 win over Mildenhall. The Mustangs grabbed two runs in the bottom of the ninth, erasing a 6-4 deficit and then struck again in the bottom of the tenth as Phil Johnson bunted home Oscar Sierra. Southampton coach Ben Davis said: “It was a really big win for us. Mildenhall had some of their players back that were huge early this season and it was a tough game. We played a really good game – we kept plugging away and we managed to sneak the win.”

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