Blue Sox Split Thieves Thrillers

The UEA Blue Sox baseball team finished their 2011/12 league season with two home games against the University of Nottingham Thieves on Saturday 10th March.

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The UEA Blue Sox baseball team finished their 2011/12 league season with two home games against the University of Nottingham Thieves on Saturday 10th March. A couple of close games were split in dramatic circumstances and both teams came away with a win to finish the season.

After several tight games between the two teams during the year, including the final of the Fall Cup, everyone expected a close encounter and some late drama. The games did not disappoint.

Each game came down to the last batter, and the competitive action produced some good quality baseball by both sides.

Nottingham got off to a good start in Game 1 due to a combination of aggressive base running, and UEA starting pitcher Jake Kleiner struggling to find his control. UEA responded with some clean hitting as they dragged themselves back into the game.

The solid all round offensive performance of Thieves pitcher Gordon Sheppard was highlighted by right fielder Chris Blandford going 3 for 3, and rookie left fielder Tom Monson going 2 for 2 with a couple of long hit triples.

By the end of the second inning, UEA had drawn level 8-8 and from there they took the lead, holding the Thieves scoreless for two consecutive innings through some composed defence. The lead was 3 runs going into the final inning but after a pair of walks and a runner scoring on an unlucky wild pitch, the pressure was on.

In spite of this, Kleiner and third baseman Will Holmes combined to pick Nottingham pitcher Sheppard off at third base. From there UEA shut the Thieves batters down to record the first win of the afternoon, 11-9.

UEA called upon their squad depth and rotated their line-up for Game 2 whilst the Thieves fielded the same team. Nottingham again jumped out to an early advantage after some good hitting but UEA were able to restrict the damage thanks to a couple of solid catches in centre field by debutant Stewart Anderson.

The Thieves led 6-0 after the second inning, during which Nottingham President Max Flajsner crushed a two-run home run, his second in as many weeks, over the left field fence off UEA President Sam Rounce’s pitching.

Sheppard had pitched his maximum 6 innings for the day, and the Blue Sox batters did not let Thieves relief pitcher Hans Mehrens settle in, scoring 5 runs in the third inning, highlighted by a couple of doubles hit by first baseman George Boustred and Rounce.

The Thieves kept the scoreboard ticking over and left UEA needing 3 runs in the last inning to win, the same amount Nottingham had failed to score in the first game.

Boustred led the inning off with a hit to left field, but a strong throw saw him tagged out on his way to second. Kleiner then struck out on a good fastball to leave the Sox needing a comeback rally with just one out left.

Rounce duly stepped up, and walked in likely his final UEA at-bat before stealing his way to third base. Rachel Wamboldt also earned her walk and stole her way into scoring position while Rounce scored on a passed ball. Any hopes of a second win were quickly extinguished as the final UEA hitter struck out to end the game with a final score of 10-8 to Nottingham.

Overall UEA finished the season strongly by splitting the double header against the league leaders. It leaves the club with a good foundation to build on next year when they will look to defend their Fall Cup crown and improve their league standing with a mix of current players and hopefully some fresh faces from Sportsmart in September.

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