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IMAGE of the WEEK: Matt Bruce
The Guildford Mavericks managed to take two games from the London Mammoths on Sunday despite a week of wondering whether the games would even be played. After the opening weekend at Broadwater School the locals complained that the noise was too loud and balls were flying into people’s yards. Though they were fairly legit complaints these events had happened in the past. For whatever reason the principal of the school decided that the club could no longer use the current diamond despite the amount of work that had been put into it during the offseason.
With no home to speak of and only a handful of days to secure a diamond for the fixtures Vivica Munger spoke to the good people of ACS Cobham and was able to arrange for the side(s) to play on their diamond. Upon arrival the club was instantly impressed with the field and facilities attached to it. With all the drama aside it was time to play Baseball and the two games provided a bit of drama themselves.
Game one was a pitcher’s duel. Chad Munger started for the Mavericks and came out firing bullets retiring the first 8 batters he faced. A walk with 2 outs in the 3rd inning broke up a potential perfect game. Guildford’s offense also struggled in the early innings going down 1,2,3 in the first two. The third inning proved to be the difference maker as the Mavericks broke through for seven runs on only three hits, taking advantage of walks and errors. This would be the only inning the Mav's would score in as London righted the ship and kept the club off balance at the plate for the remainder of the game. Chad Munger continued to dominate though and had a no hitter going into the sixth inning until a one out single by Bob le Flame broke it up. Though the Mammoths did scratch a run in each of the final three frames it was not enough to come back and the homeless Mavericks came out victorious by a final score of 7-3. Chad Munger finished the game going 7 innings fanning an impressive 12 batters for his first win and complete game for the side. It should be said though that without the defensive play of Jimmy Shaw this game may have actually been lost. He finished the game with 4 assists (one of which included a sliding stop on a hard hit grounder in the hole between 1st and 2nd) and also making a leaping grab of a liner up the middle then turning it into an unassisted double play to kill what looked like London's best rally.
Game 2 would prove to be the bipolar opposite of the first. Starter Tetsuro Shinkawa started strong for the Guildford side in the first allowing only one base runner on an error. The Mavericks took advantage of control issues from London starter Randy Branzen who struggled to find the strike zone in the first inning, walking 7, hitting 1 and surrendering 6 runs on only 1 hit by Jimmy Shaw. The Mammoths timed Shinkawa well in the 2nd, stinging him for 4 runs on three hits including a 2b by Greerson who was the DH. Tetsuro would not record an out in the 3rd and John Kristensen took over and also struggled to find the strike zone. Once the top of the third inning was over the Mammoths found themselves up by a score of 11-6. In the bottom of the inning Branzen once again couldn't locate the zone and the Mav's pulled 4 back cutting the deficit to one.
At this point JK righted the ship and tossed a quiet 4th inning allowing no base runners. The home side managed to tie the game in the bottom half starting with one of the 5 walks Tetsuro Shinkawa accumulated during the game. It seemed the London side didn't want to face the former National leaguer as he went the entire game without an official at bat. London were not about to give up though, they continued to hit the ball extremely well plating 2 more in the 5th and again in the 6th. The scrappy Mavericks continued to claw and scratch and found themselves up by one going into the bottom of the 6th inning.
At this point the bats finally came alive. The Mavericks plated 10 runs in the inning led by both John Sparks and Matt Bruce who both had two hits in the inning, with Bruce putting the finishing touches on with an RBI double to end the game in a mercy rule victory.
Patrick Matias, who had suffered an eye injury during work managed to play both games and contributed on both sides of the field when the club needed him most. Carlos (Santana) Garcia also played through injury during game one ensuring the club was not short a player on the field. Mike Burdett who had umpired game one contributed big time in game two showing infinite patience and scoring 4 runs tying for the team lead.
Special thanks must go out to ACS Cobham for letting the teams play on thier lovely diamond and to Vivica Munger for making it all happen.
With the Sidewinders looming on May 12th this reporter wonders if the Mavericks bats as they are right now will be able to overcome the pitching of the Enfield side. With the Speed of Thom Doggett missing the club is going to have to rely on true hitting rather than walks and errors in order to win.
The Guildford Mavericks opened the season in style crushing the Kent Mariners by a score of 29-2.
Last seasons AA HR champ JK (John Kristensen) brought his AK (Bat) and destroyed everything in the strike zone going a whopping 5-5 with three doubles, six runs scored, four RBI and six stolen bases.
Chad Munger started the game for the Broadwater side and threw four stellar innings allowing only one run on two hits while striking out six. Patrick Matias closed the game out with three innings of his own allowing a run on 2 hits while fanning two himself.
John Sparks looked eager to get going and drove in six runs to lead the team. James Guerra was outstanding behind the plate and at the bat calling a great game and scoring four runs of his own. Carlos Garcia returned to the side with a booming double and a couple of runs scored.
The top side welcomed back Mike Burdett who responded by going 4-5 with 4 RBI.
The Mavericks plated a total of ten runs in the first two innings completely taking the wind out of the Mariners sails. First baseman Matt Bruce said "early on we had some rust to shake off defensively and it showed. Though a lot of us worked on hitting during the winter indoors we only managed to get outside a handful of times this offseason so we had almost no fielding work. Once we had a play or two each we looked like the side that went 16-0 last season. With the additions of Patrick and Chad our team Is going to be extremely difficult to beat this season".
Sadly it wasn't all fun and games for the side as the Mer Man Thom Doggett went down with an aparent quad injury and may be out for a couple of weeks. How the team will respond to losing their starting CF remains to be seen but they may be able to tread water for a couple of weeks. "It's a huge blow to our team" said Matt Bruce "We need speed to win and with him down for a couple of weeks were going to really have to stick the ball to score runs".
Looking forward the Mavericks face off against London Mammoths in a twin billing next Sunday. This reporter looks forward to seeing how the club will respond being down a key player.
The Mavericks will look to put the disappointing finish to last season behind them when they open the year on Sunday against Daws Hill. Last year the Spitfires gave the Mav’s their toughest fixture of the regular season with the visitors needing extra innings to come away with the victory. They met again in the playoffs and once again came out victorious.
It has been a tireless offseason for the Mavericks. They started indoor classes for newcomers in October and began indoor training soon after that. The focus this offseason, hit, hit, hit. Head coach Tony Oliva has stated that “We need to hit the ball this year. Last season we had to play small ball to win but this year I want us to hit”. Oliva has worked tirelessly with the team and it’s their time to shine.
The club enters the season with one goal in mind. Win the League. The core of the team remains unchanged with MVP John Kristensen (ss) returning for his 5th season as well as James Guerra behind the plate. John Sparks will once again be the glove at third and GB player James Shaw will be the teams starting 2nd baseman. With the signings of Patrick Matias and Chad Munger the sky is the limit for the Godalming based side. Mike Burdett will return to the top side adding a power bat and an outstanding glove to the team not to mention a lifetime of experience on the diamond. The Mer Man Thom Doggett will once again bring his legs and glove to anchor the outfield along with Tetsuro Shinkawa to provide an outstanding defense for those who manage to hit fly balls off of the clubs pitching. Kyle Dooley and Carlos Garcia will round out the side ensuring depth and talent from all spots. First Baseman Matthew Bruce stated “This is a tough side to crack. With this team we have no position safe at any time. The kids are going to take our spots long term but it’s up to us to perform and show that we belong”.
It certainly seems that a title is within the teams grasp. How they respond to the pressure of being the team to beat remains to be seen. This reporter looks forward to seeing how they fare.