Twas a balmy evening in June when the Pimilico Pirates (second in league) took on the might of the Richmond Swingers (first in league). This was the biggy- the Man Utd vs Man City, the Ali vs Foreman, the Federer vs Nadal etc and potentially the Minor division 2 championship was at stake. Put simply by Neil it was a MUST WIN game!
Unlike the past couple of weeks we had a full team of guys with the return of Shorty and with the newly recruited ringers (Natalie and Nira) we were good to go with a 6-6 line up (Bola and Mira DH).
The start of the game could not have been better for us. As the Raiders like to chant it was a case of 3up, 3 down with Neil taking down the first two swingers with ground balls pick-ups to Sohan on first and a catch for Tom to dismiss the third. What a cracking start from the cheeky Pirates with Chris up to bat, who immediately takes a walk from the Swimgers stand in pictcher. Up steps Fiona with a nice strike but unfortunately into the safe hands of a fielder with me next to bat. Ordinarily I would love to swing at the low balls but this time thought better of it. Unfortunately this was to be my demise in the first innings as I was struck out on a ball that was lower than my knees! It was at this point in time that we got to see how the Raider blue was going to umpire the game- inconsistent and badly. For future reference a strike is apparently anything you can hit regardless of height as Sohan, Josie, Alice and Neil will confirm who were all subjected to low ‘strikes’.
Fortunately it was Alice up to bat, fresh from her slugging efforts over the weekend. She was able to whack it in the hole allowing Chris to progress to third. It’s Neil next with a nice hit from Neil allowing Chris run into home clutching his groin. Not great news for Chris as he had to retire from the game though featured heavily on the sideline with younger brother, Mike. Baldeep ended the innings with another blue strikeout special- courtesy of some more low ball strikes (booooooooooo).
Pirates 1, Swingers 0
The second innings saw the Swingers dig deep with a 4 ball rally after two players were caught in the outfield on high balls but we could only increase our score by 1 after some cheeky running and a nice slide from Tom into second and a solid hit from Josie (though out on first) followed bu Shorty to allow him to run home (also clutching a tender muscle). Natalie also hit well, as did Sohan and Nira who was unlucky to get called out on first, though she performed a lovely head first dive.
Pirates 2, Swingers 4
The next innings was another close one as each team only scored 1 run each with some more solid defence from both teams and good catches in the outfield. Once again the umpiring came in to question with my ball down the left line into the bushes. In my opinion it was a foul though she called it good and I got to take second base and then make home thanks to Neil hitting the spot on the right field. Pirates 2, Swingers 5
Into the fourth now with the game still at tight as a gnat’s chuff. This time we manage only to concede one run whilst picking up a couple of runs thanks to aggressive hitting from Tom, Shorty, Nat an Sohan. A special mention for Tom’s diving ground ball stop and throw back to first for the out and Shorty’s great run in to take the catch from the Swinger’s big pitcher.
Pirates 4, Swingers 6
The fifth continued the same way with the game being on a knife edge but the Pirates were clawing their way back into it despite some more poor calls and her silent assistant. RBIs from Alice and Neil managed to get us to within one run of the Swingers and everyone felt the tide was turning after clawing back some runs. Pirates 6, Swingers 7.
So it’s top of the 6th and once again we have managed to just about hold the Swingers as they only picked up 2 runs but were still three ahead. Against the run of play and inspired by some screaming from Chris we began to rally. Solid hits from Jose (RBI), Shorty, Nat and Sohan and a priceless piece of running from Bola to second (where he slid in and almost took out the short the short stop). Next thing you know and the Pirates are back on top of the game and ahead by 3 runs going into the 7th. What a turn around.
Pirates 12, Swingers 9.
7th innings and the game in our hands now or so we thought as the Swingers really went for it and put on another big rally of 6 runs including a loaded base home run and some great hitting from them in the gaps though Fiona took a lovely catch in left field. Of course with the Pirates there is always some form of controversy and it came with two down for the swingers and a full count for the Swinger. Neil pitches in a ball not too dissimilar to the rest of the ‘strikes’ we endured only for the blue to call it a ball and allow the walk. Useless, useless, inconsistent blue and her mute assistant! They scored an additional 2 runs after that which once again meant we were playing catch up and catch up with did with runs in from Bola and Alice and myself (Neil RBI) to tie the game at 15-15 with Tom up to bat. He hits a sweet line drive and guns it to first with Neil racing to third to try and squeeze for the winning home run. Hats off to the Swingers as they read the play well and they pinged the ball into third and got the tag on Neil!
Pirates 15, Swingers 15- extra innings
And so it went to extra innings and the blue clearly wanted to leave as she put the last runner on second to speed things up. Once again the Swingers pulled out a big score (6) but Neil took a great catch and Alice ending their steak with a lovely catch running backward on second but we were fighting to catch up . The rest is history- we lost by 4. Pirates 17 Swingers 21. Needless to say the blue decline our offer of having a drink with us and was out of there faster than sh1t through a goose.
Bola: Neil (for lovely pitch when the batter was in the box but not ready)
Honourable mentions: Tom’s diving catch, short’s run in to catch, Nat runner up MVP
Lessons learnt: Raider’s umpires are rubbish.
Disclaimer: The events above might have been slightly embellished and/or imagined as part of my ‘build up’ for the story.