The 8th of March saw another edition of the London baseball varsity game between the UCL Capitals and the KCL Virgina Wolves played out at the London Marathon community track. The game began with UCL batting first and Kevin Chuang at the mound. The capitals came flying out of the blocks taking a 5-0 lead in the first inning, by earning multiple walks and stealing alertly as the pitcher eased his way into the game. Taimu Masaki contributed to the scoring with his first hit of the game. The inning was ended via the mercy rule
Then the Virginia Wolves came into the bat. Leadoff hitter Kristof Hollstein coming to the fore, walking initially and then stealing all three further bases, stealing home off a wild pitch, to put the wolves on the board. Matt Jackson then scored virtually identically. The subsequent two batters were struck out ending the inning with a score of 5-2.
The Capitals then returned to bat. Lead off batter Jack Pollard was walked and expertly stole second and third. With a further two walks bases were loaded, the score was 7-2. The inning was ended however, by a strike out and one of the Wolves’ best pieces of defensive play. Tatsuya Hirooka expertly caught a ball at short stop before getting the man approaching second out on a double play. 7-2 UCL at the end of the inning
The bottom of the second saw the Wolves make a fantastic comeback! Catcher Daishiro and Kyohei Hayano both managed to walk and steal home to get two valuable runs and coach Kevin himself followed suit, to make the score 7-5. Matt Jackson stepped up the plate and guess what? He walked. On subsequent pitches he stole his way all the way to third. Hiro Funasuka then stepped up and hit a single which sent Matt Jackson home. 7-6. Tatsuya Hirooka then again hit a single for Hiro to score. The Virgina Wolves had improbably evened the scores in the space of one inning and the inning was ended through the mercy rule!
The top of the 3rd then saw the best defensive inning of the game, with Kevin Chuang striking out all three batters, showcasing some impressive skill. The bottom of the 3rd then saw a pitching change from UCL with will Twomey coming in. Things didn’t start too well though with three batter walked all of whom went on to steal bases and steal all four bases, with Francis Bell, Scott Mcclean , Daishiro Kobayashi and Kyohei Hayano all demonstrating great speed, awareness and athleticism to steel bases and score. Kevin Chuang repeated this by walking and stealing 3 bases. Kristof Hollstein then stepped up and was caught in right field however Kevin came into score, to end the inning through the mercy rule. 12-7 KCL
The following inning only saw one run scored by the Capitals, with Ethan Darden walking and stealing his way home. The inning also saw two excellent strike out and a well watched catch by Francis Bell in right field to bring the inning to a close. 12-8 KCL.
The bottom of the 4th saw the Capitals flex some defensive strengths of their own. Matt Jackson waked but was caught trying to steal second, undone by some rapid Capitals fielding. Hiro Funatsuka unfortunately struck out. Tatsuya Hirooka then proceeded to make impressive contact with his at bat with a big hit to right field, he attempted a triple but the capitals somehow managed to get him out at third. 12-8
The top of the 5th saw Kristof Hollstein who had already impressed with the bat replace Kevin Chuang at the mound for the wolves. He began in imperious fashion with a strikeout. However the next batter was walked and a couple of single followed. A couple of runs were subsequently scored by UCL. The game was in the balance but Tatsuya Hirooka stopped UCL momentum in its tracks with a stupendous diving catch near the third base. Catcher Daishiro got the final out catching someone stealing home! 12-10 KCL.
The bottom of the fifth saw the Wolves extend their lead. Francis Bell led off the inning with a single, and stole his way to third base . Francis eventually was able to come home and score due to a wild pitch. Kyohei then came to the plate and hit a ball straight over second base leading to another run scored. The KCL batters made contact again twice through Matt Jackson and Hiro however both of these hits were caught did they did allow runs to be scored through batters who had walked such as Scott and Daiishiro. 15-10 KCL
Into the final inning of the game and the Virginia Wolves had to keep their lead intact to make history. The crucial inning began with lead off man Matthew Pollard being struck by a pitch, and slamming his bat to the ground in frustration, epitomising UCL’s afternoon. Ethan Darden then hit a double for allowing Mansfield to score making it 15-11. Jack Pollard walked and stole his way to third, before Mir Al-Sadi’s hit allowed him to score. 15-12. Ethan Darden then hit a single allowing Al-Sadi to score. 15-13. A further run was scored by UCL, before Scott Mclean managed to get an out at first base off a throw from a ball hit to second. The pulsating tie was bought to a close with a short drive to pitched Kristof who threw home to pick off an attempted steal.
Overall the Virginia Wolves bettered the capitals in every aspect of the game, they outthought and outfought the opposition. Stealing with speed and stealth and through the heroics of Tatsuya Hirooka demonstrating great athleticism in the field. Credit also to manager Moon-Soo Kim whose advice, guidance and strategy paid dividends.