Following a relatively comfortable semi-final win over Halton on Saturday, the Cobham Cougars had to work harder on Sunday 15 September at the BBF's Pony National Baseball Championships at Farnham Park, but ultimately had enough to overcome a feisty Herts Harriers side and defend their Pony title.
Manchester started brightly retiring the first two hitters before conceding three consecutive singles and with it, two runs. Jonas Grader, Sam David and Dan Entwistle all singled for the Polecats to make it 2-0 The Saints responded immediately in the bottom of the first, a hard hit flyball and two singles drilled up the middle culminated in two runs to erase the deficit and even the scoreline at two apiece going into the second.
Both pitchers settled in the second inning as both recorded 1-2-3 innings, Jordan in 15 pitches, and Patrick in just 8 pitches.
In the third, the Halton offense broke the deadlock as they exploded for the maximum five runs – Patrick Hansford and Sam David both lined singles through the left side of the infield whilst Matt Moran, Dan Entwistle, Dan Pickering and Josh Pearson all drew walks.
The Polecats strove to create an insurmountable lead, further extending their lead in the fourth and seventh inning. In the fourth, Hansford and Grader both worked walks before scoring on Sam David’s single. In the seventh, Moran walked before scoring on Pickering’s single to center.
On the mound, Hansford kept the Saints offense in check, limiting Manchester to just a single run the rest of the way. He allowed just 7 baserunners and struck out 6.
Matt Moran replaced Hansford on the mound and quelled any hopes of a Saints resurgence. The game almost concluded an out earlier than it did when shortstop Owen Williams darted to his right and dived acrobatically to snare a line drive but unfortunately he fell just shy. The last at bat of the opening game at Wythenshawe field ended when Manchester starting pitcher Jordan skied a mammoth flyball to deep center field that was corralled safely by Polecats center fielder Dan Pickering.
Despite the lop-sided result, in the first inning, Halton hitters once again succumbed under the pressure of two outs and the bases loaded as Jordan struck out Dan to keep the game level. Eventually the unrelenting number of hitters reaching base paid dividends for the home side as the Polecats offense erupted for a five run second. Walks ruled the inning as four Halton hitters were gifted bases on balls. This paved the way for Dan Pickering’s two RBI single to increase the Polecats advantage to five. The searing offense continued throughout, as Halton raced to four and five runs in the third and fourth, aided by 8 walks in back-to-back innings.
The rout was completed when, after a lead-off single from Patrick Hansford, Jonas Grader walked and both put their speed to good use to bring the game to a speedy conclusion.
Hansford was also exemplary on the mound as he allowed just a single unearned run through five innings of work. He made short work of the Saints line-up, allowing just two hits and compiling five strikeouts.