Sunday saw a two game international challenge series played between the Northern Knights and the Scotland national team at the home of the Harrogate Tigers Baseball club, set to join the leagues in 2008. The Knights were drawn from the very best of the ball clubs that play in the BBF Northern leagues whilst Team Scotland featured the top players from north of the border.
The event, aimed at promoting the sport to the locals, would prove to be a terrific advertisement for baseball in the northern half of the United Kingdom, showcasing the talent on both sides.
Game 1 would see the power hitting Knights squad pull ahead early as the Scots struggled to adjust to the conditions and wood bats. Liverpool’s Mike Waisome hit a first inning Grand Slam and Tyler Smith added a solo homer in the second. However, as the pitching found its spots and the defense picked up their game, Team Scotland would roar back to overcome a 6-1 deficit to take a 9-6 lead. Two late runs for the Knights, off Bolton’s Tyler Smith’s 2 run homer would ensure an exciting finish but the visitors would hold their nerve to close out a 9-8 win. Knight’s starter Rich Klijn, from Manchester, pitched well through the first four innings and left with a 6-2 lead.
GBA player Juanito Renau was outstanding at the plate going 4 for 4 and scoring 2 runs. GBA pitcher Mark Quinn had a rough start but settled down and collected the win whilst Blair McClelland nailed down the save.
Game 2 would see the Knights yet again get on the scoreboard early but this time their pitching, provided by Bolton’s Tyler Smith, would prove to be too strong for the Scots to muster any reply. Rock solid defense and timely gap hitting to key the Knights attack would keep Scotland off the scoreboard until the 7th inning as the Knights ran out worthy 11-2 winners. Smith would pitch a 2 hit shut out thru five innings striking out 9 while walking 3 to earn the victory. The Knights batters would contribute collectively in a 14 hit attack. Edinburgh Devils pitcher Jason Derr took the loss.
The display put on by both teams illustrated the quality of baseball in the north of England and in Scotland. It also showed a unified spirit focused on improving the game in both regions.
Both teams and their coaches combined, with excellent supporters had a great day for baseball and was just the way to end the season and will no doubt turn into an annual event.
We also must thank Robbie Orme for keeping everyone informed during the game with his unique play by play announcements. Mike Hurkmans and Simon Radge did a fine job umpiring both games.
The Knights Baseball club offers players from both regions a chance to play at a higher level. The aim of the program is to develop better league players who can progress to a National team standard or take back what they have learned and make their club team even better.
The team in the North send our best wishes to all Scottish teams playing in this weekend Scottish Cup.