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Blue Sox crowned 2017 Double-A National Champions

Game ReportsPosted by admin Tue, September 19, 2017 16:47:17


SUNDAY 17 SEPTEMBER

Three excellent and dramatic finals were played today at Farnham Park as National Champions for 2017 were crowned in the British Baseball Federation’s Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A divisions.

The first game to get under way, at 11.00 am on a cool and cloudy morning, was the Double-A final between the Leicester Blue Sox and Tonbridge, both teams that had won the Single-A National Championship in recent seasons. This turned out to be a tense and well-pitched game that was in doubt until Leicester scored four runs in a bizarre top of the ninth inning to turn a 5-4 lead into a much more comfortable 9-4 advantage. It’s not often that one player can be said to win a baseball game single-handed, but in this case the evidence was pretty clear. Read the report below to find out why the MVP award could only have gone to Leicester’s Rikson Martina.

DOUBLE-A CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL

Leicester Blue Sox 9, Tonbridge 4

This final was in doubt until Leicester pulled away in what became a nightmare top of the ninth inning for Tonbridge, but in truth, this game was the Rikson Martina show.

The mercurial Leicester star, who was a live-wire catcher in Saturday’s semi-final win over the Latin Boys, took the mound in this game and threw the full nine innings and 139 pitches, giving up only three hits and five walks while striking out five. Tonbridge had baserunners in seven of the nine innings, but Martina used his curve ball to good effect and got 13 infield ground outs.

“I didn’t want to go more than 140 pitches,” Martina said after the game. “And I beat it by one!”

But that was only half of Martina’s contribution; the rest came with the bat.

Martina had four hits in five trips to the plate, including a triple, a double and three RBIs, plus two stolen bases and two runs scored.

If Tonbridge never see Rikson Martina again, it will probably be too soon.

Neither side scored during the first three innings, and to begin with, it was Tonbridge starter Cristian Secareanu who held down the Blue Sox. But Secareanu had pitched the full game during Tonbridge’s semi-final win on Saturday, and he left the mound with one out in the Leicester third inning, replaced by Sorin Puiu.

Puiu finished off the third inning without difficulty, but ran into trouble in the top of the fourth as Leicester opened the scoring with three runs. Rikson Martina’s triple was the big blow, but three Tonbridge errors helped the Blue Sox cause.

Leicester stretched the lead to 4-0 with a run in the top of the fifth inning. Rob Seward singled, stole second, and came in, inedvitably, on Rikson Martina’s double.

But in the bottom of the fifth the Tonbridge offense finally got going and cut the deficit to 4-3 on singles by Matt Styles and Laurence Hodgkins plus two Leicester errors.

Over the next three eventful innings, each team had plenty of chances but could only add one run each, and so Leicester held a slender 5-4 lead when they came to bat in the top of the ninth inning, knowing that Tonbridge would have the final turn at the plate.

But everything that could go wrong for Tonbridge did so in a long and painful half-inning. Leicester had three hits, and none of them left the infield. Sorin Puiu committed a balk that sparked a long argument that got Tonbridge Manager Amanda Murphy ejected. There was also a hit-by-pitch and a throwing error by Puiu when he had a Leicester runner dead to rights between second and third. The result of all this mayhem was four big runs for Leicester that took the wind out of the Tonbridge sails.

A tiring – and no wonder – Rikson Martina walked pinch-hitter Gen Edwards to open the bottom of the ninth inning, and Ben Carter followed with a single. But Leicester’s good fortune continued. Laurence Hodgkins hit a soft liner to Giedrius Janulevicius at third, and even though Janulevicius threw the ball into right field trying to double off Gen Edwards, Leicester got the out anyway when the ball was returned because Edwards had never tagged up.

When Martin Barker hit a one-hopper back to Martina, Rikson held the ball for a second in silent celebration, then fired to first to end the game and cue the real celebrations, with Leicester players forming a mass on the mound.

“We definitely played to our strengths,” Leicester Manager Alan Edington said afterwards, “and micro-managing the players today gave them the freedom to do this. Cool heads prevailed – at least most of the time! And Rikson Martina telling me he wanted to pitch the whole game made things easier – I just had to let him do it!”

SATURDAY 16 SEPTEMBER

Semi-final games in the BBF’s Single-A, Double-A and Triple-A National Championships started at 9.30 this morning and finished in the cold, dark and damp, well after 7.00 pm. But we now know who will play the finals on Sunday.

Six semi-finals were played on the two baseball diamonds at Farnham Park today in weather which was mostly cold and cloudy, but with a few fleeting glimpses of the sun and one short but vicious rain and hailstorm -- weather more suited to March than mid-September.

Leicester Blue Sox 17, Latin Boys 3 (7 innings)

The Latin Boys probably came into this game as favourites, and at the end of three innings they only trailed 3-2.

The threat of a big inning by Leicester in the top of the third was averted when the Latin Boys brought in Yefri Aguilar to replace starter Alex Lopez with one out and the bases loaded, and Aguilar struck out Scott McMillan and Chris Mee to end the threat.

But that was really the end of the road for the Latin Boys, as Leicester scored six runs in the top of the fourth inning and steadily pulled away for a mercy rule win after seven innings, scoring three more in the top of the fifth, two in the sixth and a final three in the seventh.

Catcher Rik Martina had a single, a double and three walks for Leicester while Rob Seward and Andy Davidson each had three hits.

But the main reason for Leicester’s unexpectedly easy win was pitcher Justinas Raupenas, who pitched the full seven innings, struck out 13 Latin Boys and gave up only four hits and four walks. The Latin Boys had at least one baserunner in every inning but the sixth, but Raupenas came up with big pitches when he needed them, ending five of the seven innings on strikeouts.

Long before the end, it was clear that the Blue Sox would be at Farnham Park on Sunday.






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Sox top Storm to advance to 2017 NBCs

Game ReportsPosted by admin Tue, September 05, 2017 20:00:41


The stage was set for the BBF Double-A quarter-final between Leicester Blue Sox and Long Eaton Storm on Sunday just gone. The magnitude and importance was felt across both squads leading up to first pitch, with signs of rain sure to fall.

A solid start to the game was made by the Sox, with Long Eaton falling behind by four runs coming up to the mid-way point of the game. Justas Raupenas was in control of the game at this stage but could the Storm battle back?

In the latter stages of the game, the pressure was starting to tell and nerves were beginning to mount in the Leicester dugout as Long Eaton clawed their way back into the game.

With the rain now in full flow, Blue Sox went into the bottom of the last inning holding onto a 9-5 lead.

Two more runs crossed the plate but Martin Andrews turned the screw on Long Eaton with a vital outfield catch for the second out of the inning and Raupenas held his nerve to strike out the last batter to secure 9-7 win for the Light Blues.

The Sox march onto Farnham Park on the weekend of the 16/17 September for the 2017 Double-A National Baseball Championships. First up on the Saturday is a semi-final encounter against the top seed from the south. Based on current standings that could mean the East London Latin Boys although they need to overcome their own quarter-final playoff this weekend.

With the final set for the Sunday 17 September, Leicester are theoretically two wins away from securing their third National Championship in eight seasons and they will relish going into these finals as underdogs.

Still a lot of baseball to go!

Photo: Julia Upton @JulesU13
Report: Rob Seward



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Legends game kick-starts our 10th Anniversary celebrations

Game ReportsPosted by admin Sat, October 15, 2016 18:54:49


Leicester Blue Sox celebrated their 10th Anniversary in style on Saturday 1 October with day and night events toasting a decade of success at the club.

Legends game

The club began its festivities at our spiritual home, the Western Park diamond, with a specially-arranged game between our current first-team and a ‘Legends’ ensemble featuring past stars of the Blue Sox as well as current players who have suited up for Leicester over many of our past ten seasons.

Shortly after the game started, storm clouds gathered but the resulting rain didn’t dampen the enthusiasm of either side that kept going for four innings before the game was eventually called due to the weather. The games' highlight moment was a fantastic home-run from the Legends’ Cory Shackleton – his first-ever in Blue Sox colours.

Our squads on the day were:

Blue Sox first-team (l-r)

Joel Upton

Rory Chandler

Ron Mason

Dave Burke

Damo Holland

Alan Edgington

Justenas Raupenas

Tomas Juskenas

Legends team (l-r)

Denny Walker

Shaun Hill

Cory Shackleton

Scott McMillan

Mark Hurst

James Corrie

Kev Hurst

and club-founder Mark Meredith

The game was also notable for the introduction of two new baseball players that have moved to Leicester from China to study, Toby Xu and Yifan Li.

Both sides played in great spirits, which set the day up nicely for the evening celebrations that followed later in the day.

The club would like to thank all who braved the wet conditions to play, as well as our loyal supporters who have been right behind the Blue Sox all season long, whatever the weather!


All photos by
Julia Upton



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Blue Sox bow out on high

Game ReportsPosted by admin Mon, September 05, 2016 17:58:34
Leicester Blue Sox concluded their 10th anniversary season, bowing out at the quarter-final stages of the playoffs against the strongly fancied Daws Hill Spitfires.

The game was played in glorious conditions on Bank Holiday Monday at the Farnham Park National Baseball complex near Slough.

Leicester's manager Alan Edgington banked on his Lithuanian pitching duo of Sigitas Juskenas and Justinas Raupenas, but things didn't go according to plan immediately into the first inning.

Juskenas struggled to find the strike zone and was replaced by Raupenas following a succession of walks and five runs coming across the plate.

The game steadied in the subsequent innings but the damage was already done and it was always going to be difficult for the Blue Sox to get a foothold in the game.

There was a moment of brightness in the third when Dave Burke singled to bring Joel Upton home but that was to be only run scored in a game that concluded with a 12-1 win for the Spitfires.

Daws Hill have been very strong all season and took the BBF Double-A championship the following weekend beating Sheffield Bladerunners 10-0 in the final, which perhaps put the Blue Sox result into perspective.

The club now look forward to celebrating their 10th Anniversary on Saturday 1 October, with a Blue Sox Legends game during the day at Western Park and the 2016 awards event at Goals Soccer Centre during the evening.


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Blue Sox progress to National quater-finals

Game ReportsPosted by admin Tue, August 23, 2016 15:02:59


Leicester Blue Sox have progressed to the quarter-final stage of the BBF Double-A playoffs following an emphatic victory over their local rivals Nottingham Rebels last Sunday.

Pitcher Justinas Raupenas got the start for Leicester, but ran into early trouble allowing a couple of runs to cross the plate for the Rebels in the first inning.

In reply, the Blue Sox bats cranked up the pressure on Nottingham when a colossal ten runs were scored. Hits were achieved up and down the Leicester line-up as they piled on the pressure from the start.

Raupenas then found his groove for the remainder of the game, giving up only one more run in the fifth inning before the contest was over two innings later, with the Blue Sox cruising to a 16-3 victory.

Leicester now travel to the National baseball complex at Farnham Park in Buckinghamshire for a tough encounter against number one seed Daws Hill Spitfires.

The quarter-final takes place at midday on Bank Holiday Monday, with the winners progressing to the National semi-final and finals event being held the following weekend.

Photos by Julia Upton


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Sox rise above Storm into second place

Game ReportsPosted by admin Mon, July 04, 2016 20:54:00


Leicester Blue Sox have climbed the table to second place, courtesy of two wins over Long Eaton at the weekend.

In game one Justenas Raupenas pitched a gem, keeping the Storm’s bats quiet for long periods. In support, Dave Burke found form for the Sox with an RBI double in the first inning that brought home Rik Martina as well as bringing in three more runs in the sixth inning courtesy of a two-out bases-loaded double to centre-field.

The main highlight from Long Eaton was Oscar Martinez’s two-run homer late in the game, but it wasn’t enough for them to avoid a 9-3 defeat at the finish.

Sigitas Juskensas took to the mound for the Blue Sox in game two but found himself in early trouble, giving up three hits in the first inning including a double from Virgil Garcia. Thankfully Leicester tied it up at the bottom of the first inning.

The remainder of the game continued to see-saw in a similar fashion with both teams committing repeated fielding errors, which saw the score-line clock-up considerably.

Juskensas showed great composure in an unsettled game, striking out six Long Eaton batters, which proved to be the difference between the sides, as the Blue Sox completed a win-double over the Storm with a 16-10 victory.

In doing so, the Sox elevated from fifth position to second in the BBF Central Division and back in the playoff hunt.

This weekend, there is no baseball action as Leicester Blue Sox will be guests at this Saturday’s Western Park Festival.

Leicester resume their playoff push the following Sunday (17 July) with a home double-header against Milton Keynes Bucks, who are breathing down the necks of the Blue Sox in third place.

Photo: Rik Martina avoids the tag and slides into score.

Photo credit: Rob Campion





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Blue Sox nullify Storm on Opening Day

Game ReportsPosted by admin Fri, April 22, 2016 09:24:28


Leicester Blue Sox got their Double-A Central Division season off to the best of starts with an emphatic 11-1 win against Long Eaton Storm at Western Park.

A tougher encounter was expected, as Long Eaton had remained unbeaten all the way through last season.

But, this time around, they were put to the sword at the first time of asking.

New Blue Sox manager Alan Edgington selected his predecessor, Dennis Grogan, as his starting pitcher.

Grogan threw a complete game and only gave up two hits over seven innings.

Leicester's hitting was phenomenal, and included doubles from Ron Mason and Rikson Martina, as well as a blistering two-run hit from Sebastien Stafford.

Grogan also weighed in big at the plate, batting in a total of four runs over his four at bats.

Edgington said: "Although Dennis dominated on the mound and with his bat, it was a complete team performance from the guys all the way through the batting line-up and in defence.

"This bodes really well for the season."

Leicester's 10th anniversary year continues this weekend, with an away match at Stourbridge Titans this Sunday 24 April.

Photo credit: Rob Campion Website Twitter


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Blue Sox Juniors come of age at YNBCs

Game ReportsPosted by admin Wed, September 23, 2015 19:13:35

Leicester Blue Sox u18’s closed out another successful season at the BBF Youth National Baseball Championships last weekend, with a pair of exciting games against top quality opposition.

It was a coming of age tournament for the Blue Sox Juniors programme, with the nucleus of our u18 team having played together since it’s inaugural year of 2012.

Following the first couple of seasons coming to terms with the quality gap between new and existing programmes, the Juniors came into their stride last year with their first-ever league wins and an impressive silver medal finish at the BBF Youth North Baseball Championships.

At the start of 2015, Team Coach Phil Rudkin set his sights on going one better this season, knowing that being the top team in the North would mean a first-ever appearance at the BBF Youth National Baseball Championships for Leicester Blue Sox.

With a 3-1 regular season record under their belts, the u18’s still needed to be the top placed team in the round-robin YNBC North Qualifier in June. They achieved this feat by the narrowest of margins; a count-back win against last year’s North Champions Cartmel Valley and another nerve-jangling one-run win against regular foes Halton Polecats.

Following this success, the u18’s continued to play baseball all through the summer with players rostered on both Blue Sox adult teams, as well as star player Rory Chandler’s debut appearance for the GB Juniors in the Czech Republic.

And so to Farnham Park, the National home of baseball and softball – a real 'field of dreams' right here in the UK. The place where everybody wants to play, but only a privileged few have in its' relative short history.

A tough draw ensued with the Blue Sox being seeded fourth and paired in the semi-finals against last year’s u17 Champions, the LYBL Bulldogs, skippered by two of the top coaches in this country Miguel Rodriguez and Cody Cain.

Semi-final: Leicester Blue Sox 1 LYBL Bulldogs 6

Arriving at Farnham Park with the first semi-final reaching an abrupt conclusion seeing the London Mets putting old rivals Herts Harriers to sword in record time (with a 13-3 mercy win) thoughts started to turn towards the outcome of the second game of the day.

With Chandler starting on the hill for the Sox, Coach Rudkin knew his team had a real chance of competing, so long as everyone on the team played their part and to the best of their ability.

Going 3-0 down in the first inning was a bit of a sucker punch, but the boys in light blue regained their composure with a much better defensive display in the next sequence of plays.

Dropping just the one run in the second, Chandler then emphatically shut down the Bulldogs in the next three innings assisted by some great defensive plays from both the infield and outfield.

Blue Sox then made it a little bit more uncomfortable for the LYBL coaches when one run came across the plate, to keep the game close at 4-1. Leicester’s bench and nearby support was electric!

When Chandler’s pitch count was up, Max Bennett came on in relief and with that, the break in pitching enabled the intensity of the preceding innings to die down, allowing the Bulldogs to re-group and re-focus.

Bennett pitched well to keep the Sox in the game, well away from mercy loss territory, but the Blue Sox bats were quiet when it mattered the most and the Bulldogs ultimately marched on towards the final, adding a further two runs at the conclusion.

6-1 was certainly no thrashing and Leicester earned the praise of LYBL’s coach Cody Cain who was impressed with how well the Blue Sox pitching and defence kept the game close for so long.

The LYBL players are veterans of the European Little League and Varsity Circuit, so going toe to toe for a complete game was a huge marker demonstrating just how far the Blue Sox Juniors programme has come in a little over three years.

The Blue Sox players had their heads held high at the end of day one, looking forward to celebrating a great performance that evening at an arranged team meal with their team-mates and family.

Bronze Medal Game: Leicester Blue Sox 3 Herts Harriers 16

Day two was a very early start, arriving in thick fog for an 8.30am warm-up and 10.00am first pitch.

The atmosphere at Farnham Park this early in the morning was a quite subdued, even for a third / fourth place match.

The prize was the opportunity of a first-ever competitive win against the Herts Harriers, who have been a bit of bogey team for the Junior Sox over the past four seasons. Last year, Leicester came very close to breaking this hoodoo with an agonising one-run defeat at an inter-league fixture at Grovehill Park.

Could the Sox round off their 2015 season with a historic win against their old foes?

Charlie Oxley took to the hill facing some hungry Herts batters. The key difference between the teams, was making things count when runners were in scoring positions. Whilst the Harriers got players across the plate, the Sox were continually stranded with bases-loaded; an extra hit or so away from matching the Harriers inning by inning.

And with that the Herts lead continued to build; it was broken up momentarily when Rory Chandler brought in a three-run inside the park homer, but any further signs of a comeback were snuffed out in the top of the fifth to deliver a mercy loss to the Sox.

The disappointment of a second YNBC defeat proved to be short lived. The players left Farnham Park with good spirits and memories of a fantastic weekend of top quality baseball.

Leicester Blue Sox u18 Team Coach Phil Rudkin said “I’m incredible proud of all my team who stood up well facing their strongest opponents to date. We handled ourselves with great class and a spirit that endeared us to whoever we came into contact with. This group of boys continues to justify our belief within the club, that the future looks very healthy”.



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