The omens looked good for this game. Not only had we bounced back from some defeats with a thrashing of the Moanadoes but we had also come a very respectable 4th in the Bristol Tournament. On top of that our record against the Loan Wolves was 100%, having never lost to them in either the league or any tournament. Surely only an act of God could prevent victory here? Either that or a travesty of justice??
Once again we were playing an almost full strength team with Chris and Ruth back from injury and Donna (she said something about a wedding??) Marines and Fiona absent. As always it was down to Shorty to lead off and in typical fashion he pinged out a lovely ground ball and took first, with Babe Ruth up to bat. Great hit again and Shorty strolls to second while Ruth charges to first. Chris up next and he twats the ball to right field, makes second whilst driving in Shorty and allowing Ruth to make the ‘suicide run’ to third and then home. Looking good so far with no outs and Alice, Tom, Nadine and Neil still to bat. Alice hits nicely but was unlucky not to make first while Tom took advantage of a missing Wolves fielder and hit far right along the line, sending Chris home and making second. Nadine hits well but fell foul of the short stop, which left Neil in bat with two down. After a strike and then a pop up Neil composed himself to hit a ground ball in between third and short stop. He sprints to first and is clearly in but instead is called out by the Heat blue who despite standing about 30 feet directly behind the base saw the play in apparent slow motion.
Up come the Loan Wolves, still with a player short but with some decent looking hitters. As expected they come out hitting hard and manage to chalk up a couple of runs with solid batting but we also defended well with a lovely kneeling catch from Shorty, a throw from Neil to first and a forced play and they were all out for four runs.
Wolves 4, Pirates 3
Baldeep steps up for the second innings and hits well but unfortunately right into the glove of their short stop with me up next. After a few dodgy hits I got lucky and managed to hit down the line and beat the throw into first. It became clear at this point that ground balls were not moving anyway in the sticky mud except Sharon managed to whack it far enough to make first and allow me to make third. Once again Mr Consistent aka Shorty was next up and managed another sweet short allowing me to run home AND for Sharon to do the unthinkable- charge from second to third and then force the overthrow to make home (GOOOOO Shaz!). Three runs scored again but with Ruth tagged between second and Alice the third out the Wolves were back in. This time we managed to hold them to only 1 run after an amazing roll-over catch in the foul zone from Chris, and some well taken catches in the outfield where the Loan Wolves love to hit.
Wolves 5, Pirates 6
Third innings now with Tom leading off and making first, followed by Nadine making first (Tom out running to second). Neil punishes the pitcher by taking the walk and with Baldeep out it was up to me to bring Neil and Nadine home with a nice big hit to left field, though not far enough for the homer. Sharon was the third out and the Wolves were back in. Once again the Pirates were up for the job and managed to hold the Loan Wolves with great plays including a relay which saw a bare handed scoop from Tom who flicked the ball back to Alice for the out. Another catch in the outfield and some solid pitching from Neil and the Pirates were back in command!
Wolves 4, Pirates 8.
Round 4 with Sohan and Josie into the game as designated hitters which was slightly ironic as both took the walk. Another cracking shot from Shorty (though Sohan and Josie had to sacrifice themselves for the play) followed by a 5 run rally from Ruth, Chris, Alice, Tom and Nadine saw us build on our lead by 8 runs up to 14.
The Wolves responded with some well placed balls and some powerful hitting. Nadine took a storming catch on third (snag of the day) and a Tom/Sohan relay took out the next player but they were still able to make 4 runs before going all out. Wolves 9, Pirates 14
So we’re into the fifth and the Wolves mixed it up by changing the pitcher. It didn’t help much with another down the line ground ball from me, a walk from Sharon and Sohan making first. Once again following a hit from Shorty, Sharon’s charge forced the overthrow on third and was able to run home for the second time, followed quickly by Sohan. With Ruth out on the next pitch and a nice lead Neil volunteered to sub out so that all the guys would get equal play time.
With Chris up to pitch and throwing in his trademark corner of the box strikes all was looking good. It was 2 outs and then came THE play that changed everything. With bases loaded the ball was smacked out to the outfield and over Shorty’s head. Unbeknownst to the Wolves Shorty possesses the arm of angry God and was able to relay the ball into Tom, who hammers it straight to Chris at home for the catch and tag the unsuspecting runner. Batter out- play of the day or so we thought!
Apparently tagging a runner going home constitutes an ‘obstruction’ and they were called safe. It’s amazing what you new rules you can learn from the Hampstead (c)heat umpires! It didn’t matter that we got the next person out- that bad decision from the Duracell headed blue cost 4 runs and rattled the team whilst galvanising the Wolves.
Wolves 13, Pirates 16
After Chris had attempted to calm down and stopped shouted the rules at the blue he led off for the 6th and got some payback with a walk. A cracking hit from Alice saw her reach second with her trademark ‘hands covering face sprint’ and Chris came home. Tom also belted out a nice one, taking second and driving Alice home. It looked as if we were going to bat through the line up until Nadine was out on first and Bola was called out running to first, even though the ball was not controlled by 1st base. Of course the Blue saw the whole play and called Bola out much to Neil’s anger who smashed his beer can (which was full) to the ground. I have never seen Neil so angry especially as we were all out with the next play. Still 3 runs scored so we still had a decent lead of 6 runs at the bottom of the sixth.
Unfortunately it didn’t quite work for us as The Loan Wolves managed to take advantage of our frustration and turn it to their advantage. They hit big and it managed to pay off as they loaded the bases through a couple of walks and we got more riled. After conceding 6 runs Chris and I swapped over and I proceeded to walk the next batter and then take a couple of catches to end the innings. 8 runs conceded though but we were still in it with one inning to play.
Wolves 21- Pirates 19
Sadly it was not to be with myself going out on yet another dubious umpire decision (he didn’t see the play) and with Sharon out on first and Sohan caught on a huge hit, we were all out!
Final Score- Wolves 21, Pirates 19
runners up: Dave, Sharon
Bola award: Bola For sacrificing his game time for the good of the team (going home to collect the jackets)
Defence: Chris For the tumbling catch in the foul zone
Runners up: Nadine (snag of the season), Tom (barehanded scoop)
Lessons learnt: Never let Hampstead Heat umpire a game again!