BBF Single-A League,
Herts Raptors 9 London Marauders 20,
Adrian Smithers, reporting from Finsbury Park
There’s always a special feeling on the day of the first baseball game of the season. This was noticeable amongst the Raptors who arrived at 8am, on a dreary grey Sunday morning in Finsbury park, only to find not a Marauder in sight. This despite furious communication upon social media the previous evening, about whether the game would take place, resulted in the Raptors being informed of an 8am inspection. Little did they know that what this actually involved was opposing manager Ryan Turtill peering out of his window to see what the weather was doing before strolling down Seven sisters road to meet and greet them.
As the home team finally arrived, the light drizzle over the park faded away to become just an overcast sky. The game was on!
The score was close for the first two innings with the Marauders leading 6-5 at the end of two. However after failing to score in the top half of the third, the Raptors conceded 10 runs in the bottom half of the inning as the Marauders plate discipline payed off. As a tiring Ralph Bartholemew (112 pitches through 3 innings) was on the end of a lot of full counts and a few ball four calls that could have been called strikes on another day by another umpire had they been umpiring from behind the plate. This inning was the main difference between the two teams and pushed the London team to an 11 run lead that the Raptors were never able to close. The Raptors added a run in the top of the fourth before Jeff Witter took over the pitching duties in relief through innings 4, 5 and 6, limiting the Marauders to four more runs, two of which were unearned. The Raptors remained scoreless in the fifth and sixth innings before a rally in the top of the seventh, trying to prolong the game ahead of the dreaded mercy rule, scored three more runs but fell short as the final out of the inning and the game was made with the bases loaded and the game extending run stranded on second base. So with a final score of 20-9 to the Marauders and the sun finally blazing in the north London sky, the Raptors were left to reflect upon an opening game loss.
It was noticeable that this was a team that had vastly improved its fielding and were now making the routine outs that had so often eluded them as the Eagles in previous seasons. Prompting Raptors co-manager, Rob Jones, to pragmatically reflect upon the day with the words, “I was really impressed with how the guys performed against a tough team. There are a lot of positives to build on.”
The Raptors highlight of the day was the sight of long term injury Joel Osborne-Brade (pictured) lining his first competitive bat in nearly two years straight back up the middle for a single. Along with four catches playing CF. Two of which, were BBF ‘A’ baseball to have a web gems feature, would have surely been contenders. He went on to produce batting stats for the day that read 1-2, 2R, 2BB, 2SB. Other notable stats were Michael Cresswell 2-2, RBI, R, 3BB, 3SB. Jeff Witter 1-2, RBI, 3BB. Jamie Lang 1-5, 2RBI & Rob Jones 2-5, RBI, 3R, 3SB. Although other Raptors reached base on errors, walks and a HBP, these five supplied the only hits on the day.
Raptors will be hoping to cut out the big inning next week as they look to build upon a solid, albeit losing, performance at Brentwood on Sunday.