HEMEL HEMPSTEAD - Despite finishing the regular season in third place behind London Mets and Bracknell Blazers, Richmond's top team showed no fear as they began the National Championship weekend on Herts Baseball's newest diamond.
With Ryan Bird on the mound in game 1 the Flames jumped on Bracknell Blazers early, scoring three runs in the first inning. Despite a late surge in the 6th inning when Bracknell closed the gap to a 4-3 lead for Richmond, two more Flames runs put the game out of reach as Robbie Unsell closed out the game for the save. Cody Cain led the way at the plate with a 3-for-4 performance including a home run.
In game 2 Michael Osborn took the ball for Richmond against London Mets and again the Richmond side took a 3 run lead. Although Mets came back with two runs of their own, the Flames opened up the contest with another three runs in the 4th inning. Their patience at the plate forced Mets pitcher Anderson to throw 143 pitches and after scoring in five of the seven innings Richmond were comfortable 8-2 winners.
With two wins from two games, the Flames had to wait to see who they would play in the final. Richmond's quest was no doubt helped by the thriller that kicked off Sunday's action as Bracknell and London went toe-to-toe for 10 innings until Jeffrey's solo homer gave Bracknell the lead for good.
Cody Cain faced Brendan Cunliffe in the final and while Bracknell were looking for back to back championships Richmond were seeking their first NBL title since 2006.
Both pitchers started strong and the game was scoreless until Ryan Bird drove in two runs with his bases loaded single in the third.
Bracknell tried to fight back, but Richmond continued to add to the scoreboard as Chris Cook pinch hit single drove home Grant Delzoppo in the 5th . Cody Cain's dominant performance would ultimately shut down any Blazers comeback and his and his 12 strike outs would lead him to the MVP trophy.
As the light faded, so did Bracknell's hopes, and in the end Richmond concluded their best ever club season with a 10-1 win and the club's second ever National League title.
Victorious captain Grant Delzoppo said: “It feels great. London and Bracknell have been the form teams all year so to come through as underdogs was great. We hit form at the right time and doing well on Saturday gave us that extra rest which was important."
“We have some older guys here," Delzoppo continued, "and I think that experience pulled us through. We had some great pitching, especially from Cody, and we are absolutely delighted to be back on top.”