This article written by Rob Jones, was first published on britishbaseball.org
Liverpool Trojans and the Essex Arrows lead the charge for the big prize at the 2011 London Tournament in Croydon. Both sides went undefeated on day one.
Meanwhile, Team France, Milton Keynes Bucks and Birmingham Maple Leafs won two out of two and will prove stiff competition on the second day of competition.
Liverpool’s first victims were the Southampton Mustangs, essentially fielding their single-A side with a couple of upgrades. The Trojans won 14-4. Later they had a comprehensive win against Richmond, who had patched together a team in order to take part. A revamped combination of Flames, Knight and Dragons looks to be more of a threat in the Frank Brady Trophy on Sunday.
Essex Arrows also fielded an impromptu team – but it wasn’t weakened so much as strengthened. “Arrows Plus” is the way the club described it, as they recruited Adwin Alcantara from the Nationals as well as members of the Mildenhall Bulldogs. Essex beat Richmond 6-2 in one of the games of the day, before mercilessly crushing Southampton.
Saturday had begun with an international matchup, with Team France facing Zuidvogels from the Netherlands. The game saw the first home run of the weekend, with a Dutch player hitting a screaming line drive into the trees in right field on Diamond 2. But France ultimately took the win 4-2, and later came from behind to beat Essex Redbacks 6-3 to claim their spot for Sunday.
The Milton Keynes Bucks – last year’s national champions at single-A – had the most dramatic route through to the Sunday playoffs. After beating Herts convincingly in their first match, they were trailing Croydon Pirates II in the final stages of their next game. Somehow, they managed an extraordinary rally and as the rain fell harder they surged ahead 10-7. With the clock ticking on the game, Ernie Ayala induced three fly ball outs to secure the win.
The Maple Leafs secured two one-run victories, showing they can also come through in the clutch. The main competition is completed with Croydon’s other two teams – Pirates I and III – and the Essex Redbacks. The action starts at 9.45 on Sunday, with the champions due to be crowned at about 6pm. Competition will be just as fierce for the Frank Brady Trophy, with Richmond joined by Herts, Zuidvogels, Pirates II, Southampton and Latin Boys.