Game One: Southern Nationals 9, Southampton Mustangs 7
Game Two: Southern Nationals 11, Southampton Mustangs 12
A brace of thrillers on the south coast saw the two sides split their doubleheader.
The Nationals prevailed in Game One in nine innings 9-7, thanks to a defensive gem from Luis Goncalves to keep the tie in the eighth and a clutch two-run homerun from Edwin Alcantara (his fifth of the season) in the ninth. Will Lintern earned the save for the Nationals.
Game Two was another close-knit affair, but this time the Mustangs emerged victorious 12-11.
A three-run blast from Southern’s Jose Perez looked to have sealed the deal as they entered the seventh with an 11-7 lead, only for the hosts to rally and tie in the bottom of the frame.
Once more the contest went to extras, and Southampton were to steal victory in the bottom of the tenth thanks to a wild pitch.
Nationals coach Jason Greenberg said: “We had opportunities to win Game Two and we failed to seize them. That should not detract though from the tenacity of the Mustangs.
“Those were the most intense ballgames we have played all year, and regardless of how deep your bench may be, 19 innings on a single Sunday afternoon is a tall order for any team.
“No matter the standings, these games have helped us prepare for the play-offs, and we don’t plan on taking our foot off the gas between now and the National Baseball Championship.”
The Nationals moved to 11-9, while Southampton are 17-7 after the classics.
Game One: London Mets 7, Richmond Flames 11
Game Two: London Mets 6, Richmond Flames 3
Two more of the NBL’s top sides faced off, serving up another split.
The Flames eased to victory in Game One, Jordan Farkas picking up the win and Grant Delzoppo going 4-for-4 at the plate in an 11-7 triumph.
But the win was considerably soured by an injury to Farkas, who broke his ankle in the closing moments of the game. The Flames were further hit by a hamstring injury to Marcus Simpson.
The injuries seemed to knock the stuffing out of the hosts, and London took advantage as they rallied for a 6-3 win in Game Two, Mike Osborn taking the loss.
Richmond coach Freddy Vibert said: “Game One was just a case of managing our lead but everybody was really shocked by the injuries.
“The team seemed to freeze in game two and it did not help that Mike was also hurt, but he stayed on the mound.
“We have one double-header left and then we will be able to have a good rest ahead of the finals.”
Game One: Herts Falcons 1, Bracknell Blazers 11
Game Two: Herts Falcons 9, Bracknell Blazers 10
Bracknell earned themselves a sweep in two wildly-contrasting games.
The first was a bit of a stroll for the Blazers as they rolled to an 11-1 victory, Henry Collins pitching a gem. Collins also helped himself to a home run, along with Clint Milner.
Bracknell then jumped out to a 6-0 lead in Game Two, only for Herts to spring into life with an eight-run inning that turned the game on its head.
Suddenly it was game on, and although Kimiyoshi Saionji clubbed a homer for the Falcons, Bracknell tied the game in the bottom of the seventh and then won it on Zack Chambers’ sac fly in the eighth.
Bracknell’s Paul Vernon said: “It was pretty important for our play-off hopes that we took the two games and we showed a lot of character to come back and get that done.
“Guys are playing and pitching hurt and taking that pain for the team.
“Our last six games are against sides with the best records in the league. We still have a chance of the play-offs but we aim to finish strong regardless.”
Game One: Croydon Pirates 7, Lakenheath Diamondbacks 8
Game Two: Croydon Pirates 0, Lakenheath Diamondbacks 10
The Diamondbacks moved to 17-5 for the season with a double victory over the visiting Pirates.
After a real struggle in the first game, which Lakenheath sneaked 8-7, the hosts broke out the bats in game two en route to a comfortable 10-0 win.
The two losses dropped Croydon to 6-13 for the season and saw them fall to the bottom of Pool A.
Mildenhall forfeited both their games at Essex in the other scheduled encounter.