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Southern Nationals

Regular Season 2011
The Southern Nationals are the first rookie outfit to win a National Championship since 2007

Southern Nationals crowned 2011 National Champions

09/11/2011, 6:45pm BST
By British Baseball Federation

The 2011 Champions of British baseball have been crowned, with the Southern Nationals stunning the NBL, Liverpool taking AAA honours, and Bolton and Cambridge winning the AA and A leagues respectively.

The Southern Nationals steamrollered the reigning champion Richmond Flames and the Lakenheath Diamondbacks en route to the nation's top baseball title.

The Liverpool Trojans won the AAA National Championship in a repeat of last year's final versus the Oxford Kings.

The Bolton Robots of Doom prevailed in AA and the re-formed Cambridge Royals took the Single-A title.


A FULL REPORT OF ALL NBC GAMES, INCLUDING STATS AND BOX SCORES, WILL BE RELEASED LATER THIS WEEK.

SA-IMAGES (official event photographers)

All photos that appear in this article are courtesy of SA Images. View the full 2011 National Baseball Championships photo gallery online and order prints SA Images.


The National Baseball Championships in Hemel Hempstead proved to be an enjoyable end to the 2011 season. Twelve teams descended on Grovehill Ballpark on 10-11 September for some excellent baseball and a broader celebration of the British game.

The event was hosted by the Great Britain National Teams programme, which managed to raise close to £2000 from a fundraising raffle, BBQ catering and the sale of team merchandise. Players, coaches and family members from all three GB squads (Seniors, Juniors and Cadets) formed the hard-working volunteer staff, cooking burgers, manning the scoreboards and tending to the well-kept baseball diamonds.

Despite the pessimistic predictions, there was only one 20-minute downpour of rain during Sunday's finals, and otherwise the full menu of baseball games from all four divisions ran ahead of schedule. 

The Southern Nationals scored 40 runs and allowed just 12 in the 2011 postseason

The Southern Nationals scored 40 runs and allowed just 12 in the 2011 postseason

NATIONAL BASEBALL LEAGUE

National Baseball League newcomers the Southern Nationals defied the regular season standings and the predictions of Britain's online baseball pundits by sweeping through to the 2011 championship title.

On 3 September they had faced a do-or-die playoff game against the three-time national champions London Mets. The Mets had despatched the Nationals in all four of their regular season match-ups, but the Southern side had the last word when the playoff game (and the Mets' season) ended in a 9-3 victory that sent the Nationals on to the finals. 

FLAMES v NATIONALS

On Saturday 10 September at the National Baseball Championships, the Nationals faced the reigning national champions Richmond Flames, with Robbie Unsell on the hill for Richmond.

Unsell has been a force on the mound this season, leading the league in ERA and WHIP. For seven innings he suppressed a hard-hitting Nationals lineup, including triple crown winner Edwin Alcantara.

But in the eighth inning, Alcantara launched a two-run homer and his teammates Leo Perez and Maikel Azcuy followed shortly thereafter with blasts of their own.

The Nationals scored 11 times in that inning off four different Richmond pitchers and five more times in the ninth en route to a 18-6 dousing of the Flames. 

Lakenheath Diamondbacks had a walk-off semi-final victory over the Southampton Mustangs

Lakenheath Diamondbacks had a walk-off semi-final victory over the Southampton Mustangs

DIAMONDBACKS v MUSTANGS

Earlier in the day, the Southampton Mustangs jostled for nine innings with the Lakenheath Diamondbacks in the NBL's other semi-final. The Diamondbacks scored runs consistently throughout the game on eleven hits, but big rallies in the third and ninth innings allowed the Mustangs to take an 11-9 lead as Lakenheath came up for their final at-bat.

Lakenheath worked the bases loaded with nobody out, and scored the tying runs -- but now there were two outs. The Mustangs had a chance to prolong their excellent season. But it was not to be: Ken Reber, the Diamondbacks' manager and catcher, knocked a hard-hit single to drive in the winning run and push the D'Backs into the Sunday NBL final. 


Southern Nationals pitching stymied the competition at the 2011 NBCs

FINAL: NATIONALS v DIAMONDBACKS

Unlike their semi-final the day before, the Southern Nationals did not need eight innings of baseball to find their rhythm against the Lakenheath Diamondbacks. By the third frame they were leading 4-1, and by the end of the sixth the score was a lopsided 13-2.

Nationals pitcher Jamie Ratcliff - a member of the Great Britain Junior National Team - had a near-flawless performance on the mound, allowing just four Lakenheath hits and two runs over six innings. The Diamondbacks simply could not get the bat on the ball, and Ratcliff was throwing far more strikes than balls. That, combined with the fact that the Nationals played errorless defence on the day, meant that every Lakenheath run would have to be earned.

In the seventh inning, the previous day's winner for the Nationals, Jason Roberts, took over for Ratcliff in relief. Despite allowing a run, the Nationals maintained a 10-run lead over the Diamondbacks when the third out was recorded, and the team erupted in jubilation to celebrate the championship title.

Jamie Ratcliff was named the MVP of the National Baseball League championship series, a decision made by the official scorers. Nationals shortstop Maikel Azcuy was also honoured, named as the MVP of the tournament overall.


AAA FINAL

In the AAA division, the Liverpool Trojans took home top honours after besting last year's victors, the Oxford Kings, by a score of 11-1. The Kings had been ushered into the NBC despite an 18-10 finish in the regular season when northern teams Halton Jaguars and Manchester A's were unable to attend the championships.

The day before, Liverpool had shot down the Essex Redbacks by a score of 9-6 to advance to the Championship game while the Kings had beaten the Bristol Badgers by a similarly close score of 11-7. This created a rematch of the 2010 final, but the Trojans, undefeated in AAA North play, were determined to force a different outcome this year and played high-stakes baseball from the very start.

Behind pitcher Martin Godsall, the Trojans scored 11 times off the Kings, who could only manage one run throughout the entire game. The affair lasted just seven innings before the mercy rule took effect.

Godsall was named AAA MVP for his outstanding performance, which was merely a reflection of his excellent pitching all season long for the Trojans. 

Liverpool Trojans were undefeated in 2011, both in the regular and post-seasons

Liverpool Trojans were undefeated in 2011, both in the regular and post-seasons


AA FINAL

The Bolton Robots of Doom defeated the Latin Boys in the AA competition, but not before some fascinating fireworks exploded on the second diamond at Grovehill Ballpark.

The game was evenly matched through the first six innings, with Bolton clinging tightly to a 6-5 lead and two more runs in the seventh driven in by Kieran O'Leary put the Robots up by a score of 8-5. By the bottom of the ninth inning, the Latin Boys were down by three runs, but they were able to tie the game as Bolton pitcher Zak O'Boyle struggled to find the strike zone.

Bolton was unwilling to let the game slip away as it headed into extra innings, and the middle of their lineup connected for four runs on five hits. The Latin Boys tried to mount a comeback, but despite a single and two hit batsmen (followed by a bench-clearing stare-down), the game was too far out of reach and the Robots of Doom were crowned AA champions after a 12-8 victory. 

Bolton Robots of Doom won the AA final, beating the Latin Boys in ten-innings

Bolton Robots of Doom won the AA final, beating the Latin Boys in ten-innings


SINGLE-A FINAL

In Sunday's first matchup, the Cambridge Royals enjoyed a 10-run mercy rule victory over the Birmingham Maple Leafs to win the Single-A title.

The Royals were convincing victors, bolstered by a dominant pitching performance from Brett Curran, who allowed just six hits and tallied 12 strikeouts over seven innings. Despite some offensive fireworks from Maple Leafs catcher James Moran, who hit the day's first home run, the Birmingham team was overpowered by Curran and ultimately fell 14-4. 

Cambridge Royals, re-formed as a Single-A powerhouse in 2011, won the final in a mercy-rule victory over the AA Midlands Birmingham Maple Leafs

Cambridge Royals, re-formed as a Single-A powerhouse in 2011, won the final in a mercy-rule victory over the AA Midlands Birmingham Maple Leafs

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