The Essex Archers confidence was high coming into the game with the newly formed London Mustangs, but knew that mistakes would need to be kept to a minimum with a very close contest expected.
The Archers lined up for game 1 with a couple of positional changes from the previous week. Game 1 was a low scoring affair with both the Mustangs pitcher and the Archers starting pitcher, Jamie, minimising walks hammering the zone. Hits were few with only a scattering of walks (5 in total) from the Mustangs, meaning when the Archers got on base it was important to put the pressure on and make the opportunities count.
The Archers had their best defensive performance to date in both games, even with a couple of missed plays, the standard had certainly improved from the last couple of weeks as the rust was starting to ware off.
Jamie in the 1st inning gave up only 2 runs, and got all three outs via the K. Jamie then went on and put up zeros in both the 2nd and 3rd innings, and gave up only 1 run in both the 4th and 5th innings. Jamie had another K in the 3rd inning, giving him 4Ks on the day, and only 2 walks in 5 innings. A brilliant and consistent performance.
In the field Simon had a great running catch in CF, Geoff had several put outs from 2B and helped himself to an unassisted double play, Dave N at 3B also had his put outs, as well as Dave E at Short who took his put opportunities along with a catch.
Going in to the 4th the score was 2 – 2, and the Archers had the small break they needed. At the top of the 4th the Archers gave up 1 run, and in the bottom of the 4th the Archers managed to break through with a 5-run inning, giving them the smallest and tightest of leads. The Archers went into the 5th and the last capped inning 7 – 3 up.
The Archers gave up 1 more run in the 5th, and the Mustangs pitcher came back and shut the door at the bottom with a score of 7 – 4. In the top of the final inning, the Archers gave up 1 run but held on with some excellent pitching and fielding, with the final out falling to Geoff at 2B.
The Archers did make some mistakes in the final inning missing a double play chance, however stayed calm and got the win. Their performance was more about fielding and pitching than batting on this occasion, and was a great win for the Archers.
Game 1 final score: Essex Archers 7 – 5 London Mustangs.
Game 2 would see a shuffle around from the Archers. Geoff continued at lead off and was to make his first start at 3B. Simon shifted to 2B, Tomi moved to CF, Rachael came into the game in RF and Olli in LF. Dave N started his first game of the season on the mound, and would round off the batting order.
Game 2 continued to be a tight affair with a few more walks from both starting pitchers and a few more base runners compared to the first, but just as much pressure on the Archers who were now looking for their second sweep in two weeks.
Dave N started well on the mound inducing an easy ground out to Short which was sent over to 1B for the first put out of the game. Dave N also got his first K of the season and finished the inning having only given up 3 runs.
The Archers responded with a great 1st inning plating 4 runs themselves, with a culmination of singles, great heads up base running, and making good contact at bat.
Going into the 2nd, the Archers gave up 2 runs and unfortunately missed out on a glorious double play opportunity which wasn’t handled well enough and could have changed the inning. However, the Archers pressed on and got out of the inning giving up only 2 runs. The Archers in the bottom of the 2nd were shut down thus going into the 3rd 5 – 4 down.
With the hot weather, pitch count and a few walks starting to creep in, the Archers made a pitching change. Nothing to be taken away from Dave N, it was a very good first outing and Dave N will only get stronger and better as he starts to eat through a few more innings. Dave N went back to 3B, Geoff to Short and Dave E came in to the game to relieve. Dave E struggled early with command, but then found some rhythm striking out two batters and got out the inning with only the 1 run scored.
Bottom of the 3rd the Archers managed to plate another run bringing the score to 6 – 5 going into the 4th ,which was then confirmed as the last capped inning of game.
Dave E pitched well again in the 4th giving up only 1 run, a great double play turned in the field. Andy behind the plate took a big pop up and quick thinking meant he doubled up at 1B after the runner hadn’t tagged up. Along with an excellent running catch by Tomi in CF, the Archers brought the inning to a close.
The Archers responded in the bottom of the 4th by scoring 5 runs. However this effort didn’t come without sacrifice. From his hit, Andy pulled a muscle when running to first, and after moving from base to base with a couple of runs in, Andy found himself at third. A passed ball came in which tied the game, but Andy’s sprint home was too much, as he then limped towards the dugout.
At the top of the 5th and possibly the final inning, Dave E replaced Andy behind the plate, Rachael was sacrificed in order to bring Brett back into the game at 1B, Roy was moved to 2B, Olli to RF, Simon to CF and Tomi went to LF. Jamie took the mound to finish the inning with the score at 10 – 7.
The Mustangs weren’t going down without a fight, with the lead off hitter pounding a double straight over Simon’s head in CF, the Archers under threw a ground out which evaded the outstretched glove at 1B.
A moment of composure and the outs started to come, notably at 3B from Dave N with a good throw across the diamond, and the final out was a well hit grounder to 2B which bounced nicely into Roy's glove for the put out, and the Archers held on with a final score of 10 - 9 to take the win and take the sweep, in what was a very competitive two games of baseball.
Both Jamie and Dave E picked up their second wins of the season and Jamie picked up the first save of the season as well.
Overall an excellent fielding and pitching performance form the Essex Archers, who have started to get back to the standard of defence that the Archers achieved in the previous season, with contributions all over the field along with everyone contributing with the bat.
The Archers will be back on the road on the 19th May away at Bracknell which is lined up to be another great game of baseball.