Essex Archers @ home to Bracknell Inferno | Single A South Pool A | Sunday 28th July, 2019

The Archers showed both sides to their game on Sunday, which turned out to be a roller coaster emotional ride.

The Archers were up against Bracknell Inferno, who had previously swept them earlier in the season. Everyone knew how well the Archers would have to play in order to get the wins.

In game 1 Jamie pitched really well. Defensively the infield was doing its job with plays being made and catches being taken, with sold outfield play as well. The Archers were playing to a really good standard of error-less baseball through all the capped innings. It was playoff standard stuff, and arguably better than the fantastic performance put in against Richmond Dukes the previous week.

The Archers kept in the game against Bracknell’s starting pitcher, who out-played them back in May. This time the Archers unsettled him, worked walks, worked some hits and ran the bases really well. He was pulled in the 5th inning and the Archers continued to hit well against Bracknell’s relief pitcher. Going into the final inning the Archers had an 8 run lead.

However, unfortunately the Archers slipped in the final inning with errors made both infield and outfield, which put them 2 runs behind Bracknell. But it wasn’t over.

Andy got on base and stole 2nd, then Tomi got a hit which bought Andy home. Dave N then hit a deep fly ball which was caught out, but Tomi now at 2nd was caught out in no mans land and subsequently picked off. James made it to 1st base and Joey came into pinch run and got to 2nd on another steal. Jamie then came in with the tying run on 2nd, but a good catch in the outfield meant that it was game over. So close.

Game 1 final score: Essex Archers 17 – 16 Bracknell Inferno

Game 2 saw Bracknell send up their next pitcher which made a mockery of Single A pitching standards. He was good!

Dave N took to the mound and pitched really well for the Archers. Defensively the Archers weren’t as clean as they were for the first 5/6 innings of game 1, but Bracknell's run count was kept low.

The Archers initially found it tough going against Bracknell's hard throwing rightly, but choking up, standing in the back of the batter’s box and with some adjustments, the Archers started to chip away at Bracknell’s lead. After a variety of changes the Archers found themselves back in the game going into the last inning, only 2 runs down after plating a full 5 runs in the last capped inning! The Archers were back in business against arguably the best pitcher they’ve come up against this season.

Alas, the Archers last inning hoodoo came back to bite, and with a few more missed plays and some timely hitting from Bracknell, they saw a number of runs plated and the Archers just weren’t able to respond.

Game 2 final score: Essex Archers 8 – 18 Bracknell Inferno

Essex Archers @ home to London Mustangs | Single A South POOL A | Sunday 12th May, 2019

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.

Essex Archers @ Forest Glade Redbacks | Single A South POOL A | Sunday 5th May, 2019

After having a good go but ultimately coming up short against London Musketeers, Sunday 5th May saw the Essex Archers get to have their only league look at Forest Glade Redbacks in season play for the year. Always a nice team to go up against and always a great contest played in the right way; it promised to be a good day of Baseball all round.

The usual personnel merry go round would be in effect with the returning Andy Gardner, Simon Goodwin and Joey Wednesday who all missed the opening game of the season, and Paul Tuson would also make his debut in game 1, with Billy, Jesus, Olli, Roy the Boy Winston all missing this weekend for varying reasons.

Simon Goodwin and Geoff Thomas will be battling all season for the lead off spot, and game 1 gave the opportunity to Simon. With the Archers in anticipation of a standard Geoff style Walk in the lead off spot, Simon promptly struck out in his first at bat, however with a hit and a walk in game 1 Simon done his job at lead off well. In the field he took a great running catch and played his center field position well. Unfortunately Simon's foot did take a battering - it is normally wise to hit the ball into the massive green area which is the field, but Simon managed to hit the ball straight down onto his foot. At least Simon didn't make too much of a fuss over it.

Geoff batted consistently as always going 6 for 8, with a walk across the two games, hitting several singles, a double, and as solid as ever in the field leading the communication for the team from Shortstop.

Dave Evans went 6 for 8 with a strike out. On two occasions was subject to the new 5 run limit rule, twice coming in to the plate with bases loaded and 4 runs in. On the first occasion he was tempted to bunt for the first time ever, but seeing Jamie Steed at 3rd, Dave didn't think he'd appreciate the squeeze play. Playing at 2B in game 1 not one grounder, however he did stop a guaranteed extra base hit in game 2 with a great diving grab!
Dave pitched in game 2 having worked all off-season trying to develop and become a viable pitching option, and came away with the win pitching a complete game, including 6Ks and limiting the Redbacks to 6 runs!

Andy Gardner caught both games brilliantly and did the job with the bat getting on base with 4 hits in game 1, 2 hits in game 2, and also took a hit by pitch. Line score says 8 stolen bases across two games, which (if accurate) is great heads-up base running…and most importantly he didn't get himself caught out when stealing! Andy also managed both games brilliantly behind the plate when catching, and was solid throughout the game. A welcome return to the 4-hole where his presence was certainly missed from the previous week.

Bret Cuming in game 1 made a couple of hits and a stolen base. In game 2 he had a couple of walks, getting on base consistently ensuring that the batting line kept moving back to the top of the order, which cannot be under estimated how important that is. Brett had a great game with the bat, made several good picks and made some throws look better than they were.

Dave Nagler was twice victim to some excellent fielding from the Redbacks infield, but kept going and still got a Run, RBI and stolen bases in both games. Dave excelled in the field making several good catches in both games and twice made diving stops to his left, firstly a diving grab and got up and made the throw to first (which the runner managed to beat out with some great speed). Really good fielding performance with a solid glove.

Joey Wednesday was disappointed with a missed catch at the start of game 1, but baseball will always bring you another chance, and Joey more than made up for it throughout the rest of the two games. taking several catches throughout. On base, Joey got some great hits going a total of 4 for 7 across the two games. He also did well stealing bases taking 3 in the first game and another in the second game.

Game 1 Paul Tuson played RF where the ball managed to avoid him throughout. Although no hits, he did get a Walk and came in for a Run. "Walks are just as good as a hit"!

Game 1 Jamie Steed pitched brilliantly with minimal walks and 4K's. Jamie's consistency over the plate, which are forever inviting, still gets the job done for the Archers.  A number of fly ball outs and grounders for the Archers to gobble up. Although one cracking hit from the Redback catcher nearly cleared the fence, the outfield had Jamie's back with some great catches. Second week in a row was another solid pitching display. Jamie was also effective with the bat going 1 for 2 with a walk, as well and 2 stolen bases.

Rachael played game 2 in right field and like in game 1 the ball didn’t find its way to right field. With the bat Rachael was 0 for 2 with 2 Walks and came in for a Run. It would have been another Run for Rach if it wasn’t for the 5 run limit that is in place. Rach has been working hard in all aspects of her game over the off-season, and almost had an infield hit of the Redbacks in game 2, but just didn’t make it to first in time. Continued improvement and it won't be long until the hits consistently start coming.

Finally, but no means least, Tomi Keeling played game 2 in left field and brought his bat to play. Going 2 for 2 with 2 walks and 4 RBIs, making it very difficult for team Manager Dave Evans not to play him in both games next week. Tomi fielded well and took a brilliant running catch to end the game as well, a great contribution having sat out of game 1.

Game 1 result
Forest Glade Redbacks - 9
Essex Archers - 14

 Game 2 result
Forest Glade Redbacks - 6
Essex Archers – 14

All in all, a great result for the Archers who had lost the pre-season friendly to the Forest Glade Redbacks a few weeks ago. Contributions from everyone all over the field and the bats were working. Still a few fielding errors that need to be tightened up going forward, but seeing as it was only game 3 and game 4 in the young season, that area is sure to only improve.
A team performance we can all be very happy with against good opposition and good pitching. It’s always a battle against Forest Glade and the Archers were really pleased to come away with 2 wins, moving to 2 wins and 2 losses in the season.

The Archers return home for their next game on Sunday 12th May against the London Mustangs, which is set to be another great encounter, and the first time the Archers and the newly formed Mustangs come across each other.