The Imperial Falcons were the winners of the 2010 University Fall Cup overcoming Nottingham University in the final after an exciting weekend of baseball in Hertfordshire.
While the Texas Rangers and the San Francisco Giants were slugging it out in the MLB World Series, five of the best teams from the British University Baseball Association came to Grovehill Ballpark, the home of Herts Baseball Club, for some October baseball of their own.
Imperial Falcons catcher Gary Lam clashes with Nottingham runner representing the tying run to apply
the game-ending tag in the opening game of the weekend
The weekend got off to the best possible start with the clash between Imperial College and last year’s losing finalists, Nottingham University. The two teams produced a classic pitching duel which Imperial won 2-1. Many who were watching the game predicted that these two teams will actually meet each other again in the Final.
Before that all the teams had to go through the gruelling league stage of the schedule which meant that each team had to play 5 games in total over two days which amounted to nearly 8 hours of baseball. It was clear that the teams with the largest squads would have a clear advantage. Imperial College and Nottingham University both had strength in depth with 18 players on their rosters. University of Southampton could count on 15 players while University of East Anglia (UEA) and King’s College were facing an uphill struggle with 11 and 10 players, respectively.
After their win in the opening game the Imperial Falcons managed to book their place in the Final by staying unbeaten over the next 3 games of the league stage. They drew with Southampton (5-5) and UEA (3-3), and won against King’s College and (8-1). This left Nottingham and Southampton facing each other in their final league game to determine who will play in the Final against Imperial. A dominant performance on the mound by Gordon Sheppard for Nottingham frustrated the Southampton sluggers. He allowed only two hits over 4 innings and only a temporary loss of control gave the Mustangs a glimmer of hope with several batters managing to get on base with walks. But all too often those runners were left on base unable to come home. Nottingham won 5-1 and booked their place in the final.
The Imperial Falcons’ team spirit carried them through the daunting tournament schedule on the way to victory.
The persistent rain left significant amount of water on the field so the conditions were not ideal. Starting pitchers George Lintern and Vassil Botev struggled to get a good grip on the slippery balls leading to a large number of wild pitches and walks. Despite this both teams were neck and neck inning-after-inning. Going into the final inning Nottingham were in the lead, 6-5. Imperial started the inning in the best possible way getting their leadoff batter, Hanson Cheung, on base. The next batter also reached base with a walk. Kevin Ling then hit a ground ball to second baseman, Teddy Smith, who managed to get the force out at second base. Hanson Cheung, representing the tying run was now on third base with 1 out, but at least Smith’s heads-up play at second meant that the go-ahead run was not in scoring position. Hajime Urata then stepped up and grounded to the pitcher, which is exactly what Nottingham needed, but then disaster struck. Just as pitcher George Lintern was about to make the play and get the second out, the soft ground gave way from underneath him sending him sliding on the wet surface. Cheung came in to score from third and everybody was safe. The next batter Arun Krishnan walked to load the bases. Up stepped Bulgarian pitcher, Vassil Botev, to deliver the final blow with a single to right field bringing in the winning run and starting wild celebrations for the Imperial Falcons.
This was an incredible achievement by Imperial College who just 12 months ago were playing in the lower bracket of this competition. Since then they have built a formidable squad which deservedly crowned as the winner of the 2010 University Fall Cup.
In the battle for the Shield, it was another dramatic 1-run game which Southampton won. It included a towering home run by Victor Aizburua.
|SCHEDULE (LEAGUE STAGE)|
|Southampton Mustangs||13||King’s College||0|
|Southampton Mustangs||5||Imperial Falcons||5|
|Imperial Falcons||8||King’s College||1|
|FALL CUP FINAL|