Leicester Blue Sox have qualified for the end of season playoffs for the first time since 2013.
Tensions were high on the last day of the regular season last Sunday as Leicester knew they needed two wins over their bogey-team Stourbridge Titans to be sure of qualification.
Having lost their previous three encounters against the Titans, Blue Sox manager Alan Edgington knew his players’ needed to be on top of their game.
In the first game, the dependable Lithuanian Justinas Raupenas took to the mound for the Sox and despite a shakey start from his defence in the first inning, any pre-game nerves started to settle down. Raupenas struck-out ten and yielded only two base hits all game.
Leicester’s batting quickly went to work with six runs in the first two innings and three more in the sixth to seal a 9-4 win. Cory Shackleton and Gied Janulevicius did the most damage, driving in three runs apiece.
Without the knowledge that results elsewhere were going their way, the Blue Sox needed to raise themselves once again in game two.
Raupenas continued to pitch before giving way to his countryman Sigitas Juskenas in the third inning; at this stage the score was tied 2-2. After struggling last week, a much improved performance from Juskenas kept the Titans quiet, with only one more run coming across the plate in the fourth inning.
The Blue Sox bats exploded in the fifth inning, when a magnificent seven runs came home to virtually end the contest. The remaining two innings were scoreless, giving Leicester a much-needed 10-3 victory at the conclusion.
The weekend’s results mean Leicester finished third in the BBF Central division, giving them home advantage when they will host fourth-placed Nottingham Rebels this Sunday for a place in the National Quarter-Finals.
A fiercely competitive encounter with their local rivals is expected. Nottingham have the slight edge winning three of their regular season fixtures and Blue Sox just the two. Leicester will be hoping to even this up and then progress further in the playoffs; first pitch at Western Park is midday.