GB U23s sweep NBL All-Stars (27 May 2018)
There was plenty of baseball talent on display at Farnham Park on Sunday 27 May as the Great Britain U23 Team and the National Baseball League All-Stars clashed in a doubleheader.
The weather forecast for the day had looked grim beforehand, but apart from a few light sprinklings of rain in the early going, it was a perfect day for baseball under mainly bright sunshine.
The GB squad, preparing for their European U23 Championship Qualifiers in August, looked in fine form as they defeated the All-Stars for the first time in the history of this annual meeting, winning the first game 7-4 before romping to a 15-4 victory in the second contest.
GB Head Coach Liam Carroll said, “I’m really happy. Given how little we get to see NBL players, since they’re busy with their clubs, for them to come in and pull together and play as a team was impressive. There were some strong individual performances, but collectively we pulled together and it was an impressive team win. This was an opportunity for U23 players to earn a spot for the Qualifiers this August, so we were giving guys opportunities to impress.”
“We got some good karma for all the efforts that the volunteers put on behind the scenes,” Carroll added. “This is an event that has tremendous scope and I think it can be a signature event for the Federation, for baseball and for softball. We have four fields here at Farnham Park, and I would love to see this become a weekend on which everyone in British baseball and softball can pull together, and see kids to adults play the sport. This was a great day today, with a good turnout on a nice day, and hopefully it can keep growing.”
The first game got off to a rocky start for the GB U23s, as All-Star lead-off man Brendan Power from London Mets reached second base following a throwing error. After moving to third on a sacrifice by Mets teammate Armando da Silva, Power came home to score on a wild pitch.
But the GB U23s got the run back in the bottom of the first inning as right fielder Rory Chandler was hit by a pitch, and after surviving a rundown opportunity while trying to steal second, Chandler crossed the plate on a double by centre fielder Jamie Dix.
In the second inning, GB took the lead thanks to Juan Diaz, who tripled home Matthew Moran and Sebastian Molina-Chocron after both had walked earlier in the inning.
An RBI single by Mets’ first baseman Richard Minford drew the All-Stars to within a run in the top of the third inning, but GB blew the game open in the bottom of the frame. Rory Chandler led off with a single and stole second, and after a fly out, Callum Vinall reached on a dropped third strike and also stole second. Miguel Rodriguez singled home Chandler and moved Vinall to third, and then the two pulled off a double steal to make the score 5-2. RBI singles from Moran and Juan Diaz increased the lead to five runs, and drove All-Stars starting pitcher, The London Capitals’ Anderson, from the game.
The All-Stars were able to plate a pair of runs in the top of the fourth inning after a pickoff attempt at third sailed into left field, but then Rory Chandler continued his great day by making an amazing catch to rob Jamie Gregory of a hit, and the rally fizzled out.
All-Stars’ relief pitcher Tosh Lawson shut the GB offense down for the remainder of the game, but the damage had already been done and GB were winners by a score of 7-4.
Liam Carroll said during the interval that he wanted his GB players to be aggressive -- though he also wanted to cut down on the errors!
The team did both in the second game, playing clean baseball and showing a positive attitude at the plate that saw them score nine runs in the top of the first inning.
Singles from Freddy Mosier and Elliott Berger started things off, and then All-Stars starting pitcher Mario Rueda walked Jamie Dix to load the bases. Zach Stroman singled home Mosier, and then Jordan Edmonds walked to force home a run. Juan Diaz continued his fine day at the plate, clearing the bases with a triple and coming home on a throwing error. Conner Brown also tripled, and was singled home by Will Zucker, who was pushed around the bases as well. Finally, Freddy Mosier scored for the second time in the inning before the All-Stars got out of the jam.
The All-Stars tried to duplicate this run-scoring feat in the bottom of the first inning, but after loading the bases with one out, they were unable to bring anyone home. GB were held off the scoreboard in the second inning, but then the runs resumed.
The U23 squad scored twice in the third inning, and then the All-Stars finally got on the scoreboard as GB pitcher Matthew Waddington walked four batters in the bottom of the third. But GB was not about to let the momentum go the way of the All-Stars, and in the top of the fourth inning they took advantage of two hit batters and a triple by Rory Chandler to score three more times.
GB led 14-1 at that stage and there was no way back for the All-Stars as GB went on to win the game 15-4. GB’s Juan Diaz was named MVP on the day for his fine play on defense and his stellar offensive numbers.
A spokesperson for the British Baseball Federation, said "We would like to thank everyone who took part in our All-Star game and worked behind the scenes from the volunteers and coaches in GB Baseball. Further thank you to head coach Drew Spencer (NBL All-Stars) and the NBL and GB All Stars themselves. There was plenty of baseball, great action and support from the fans who came out. All proceeds raised on the day go to support GB Baseball."
Reporting by Don Mc Dermott
2018 All-Star MVP | .375 avg | 4 RBIs