The Spring 2017 edition of the University Baseball Championship had a record number of 15 entries, further emphasising the prestige and significance of the event on the tournament calendar.
The 2017 Spring NUBC was the opening outdoor event on the 2017 baseball and softball calendar, starting off the fourth year of play at the Farnham Park Baseball and Softball Complex. However, the early date for the tournament brought bitterly cold conditions and the tail-end of Storm Stella that had wreaked havoc in the US, with winds of up to 50 mph causing issues for pitchers and fielders alike.
Nevertheless, the tournament was played in a great spirit, with a number of new teams adding extra colour and atmosphere to the event.
University College London (UCL) and Loughborough had been the standout performers in the opening group phase, and were the only teams to progress with a perfect 4-0 record. However, the defending champions from Durham were not going to give up their crown lightly and only a 5-5 tie with the University of East Anglia (UEA) marred their record. All four of these teams progressed to the semi-finals.
A special mention goes to the debutants from Queen Mary College, who narrowly missed out on a semi-final spot at their first attempt, finishing the group phase with a 3-1 record. Their only defeat came against the vastly more experienced Loughborough side.
In the semi-finals, UCL took on defending champions Durham. If you have to beat the best to be the best, then this was the baton-passing moment, as the side from the capital ended Durham’s reign with a convincing 7-4 victory.
The second semi-final, between Loughborough and UEA, was the most dramatic game of the day. Loughborough came from behind to tie the score at 5-5 late in the game, which went to extra innings before Loughborough walked-off with a 6-5 win to edge into the final.
It was tough to know whether the extended semi-final would help or hinder either side – Loughborough having to go straight to the final game but warm, against UCL who had had time to recover from their semi-final but then had to wait in the cold.
Nevertheless, the final was crisply-played, with defenses leading the way and little in the way of scoring opportunities. A solitary run would prove to be enough as UCL scored in the top of the last inning before shutting down Loughborough in the bottom of the inning to seal their first-ever title.
1 - University College London
2 - Loughborough 1
3 - Durham 1
4 - University of East Anglia
5 - Nottingham
6 - Queen Mary
7 - Sheffield
8 - Essex
9 - Southampton
10 - Loughborough 2
11 - Oxford
12 - Goldsmiths College
13 - Imperial College
14 - Coventry
15 - Durham 2