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.