The Oxford Kings threw away an early and commanding lead to lose narrowly to the Richmond Flames. After a win against the Enfield Sidewinders their chances of a playoff spot, the top spot in their division, was in jeopardy after this disappointing defeat. Baseball consists of nine innings; good fielding and pitching typified the first four of those. In each inning both teams bat, until three of the batters are declared out by either three strikes delivered by the pitcher, or a catch by a fielder. Only 30 minutes had elapsed in these opening innings, and a mere two points scored, points achieved by batters passing the four bases of the diamond shaped field. Both of these points were scored by the Kings, and in the fifth innings their advantage was increased. Richmond were dispatched easily from the batting, and Oxford doubled their lead when Masaharu blasted over the first Home Run of the game. However, in the seventh innings the Richmond Flames started their fightback. A home run brought the scores back to 4-2, and excellent fielding gave them renewed hope of completing the comeback. Possibly a pivotal moment in the game was when a Kings player Williams tried to be too clever. A desperate lunge back to first base was not enough to stop him being declared out, after the pitcher noticed him running to the next base before he had thrown the ball. In a sport which is complicated by terminology and statistics, Williams had been ‘picked’. During that innings the two other Oxford batters were caught . At the beginning of the eighth innings Masaharu, again displaying his superb abilities, made a great diving catch. However, the rest of the fielding during this inning was very sloppy indeed. Richmond capitalised on poor fielding to get two men ‘home’, and then the Flames took the lead. It was only good pitching by Williams which saved yet more damage. In the ninth innings Williams pitched a man out, but could not prevent conceding another run. A time out was called by the Oxford coach, and the duty of pitching was delegated to the gifted allrounder Masaharu. He successfully struck out the two Flames batsmen, leaving Oxford 6-4 behind with one last batting chance. It started well when Schauer’s hit let Frasher run home to decrease the deficit to one. However, Williams could not tie the scores and force the game into another inning, as his shot was weak and he was beaten to first base. This defeat was a setback for the Kings, a team of both university and non-university players. There is the Varsity match to look forward to though, and an opportunity to seek revenge after missing out on the playoff spot to the Cambridge Monarchs last year. On this fixture, to be held later this term, the Kings university president Joon-Jae Bahk said, “with a full strength side we should easily walk all over them.”
ARCHIVE: 4th week TT 2003