The second fortnight in May was a good one for the London Capitals, as the team received a pair of impressive shutouts from its pitching staff and split a two-game set with the first-place London Mets. It was the Welsh capital’s Merlins, however, that stole the show on the final game day of the month, as Cardiff’s Taka Kano was on batter away from a perfect game in the second contest of the club’s Opening Day. The first weekend in June then saw Opening Day celebrated across the country, with five circuits hearing ‘Play Ball’ for the first time.
NBL Week 5: Lancashire Legends at London Capitals (0-1, 0-8)
On Saturday, the London Capitals accomplished the rare feat of consecutive shutouts in a sweep of the Lancashire Legends. In Game One, David Bedard and Alex Deacon matched up for a nail-biting pitching duel. In fact, it was not until 14-year-old Travis Harfield stepped up with two outs in the sixth that Bedard gave up his first hit. Harfield must be one of the youngest leadoff hitters in a European national league, but his safety to right center ended a streak of six consecutive outs by Bedard, who struck out five of those players en route to 13 strikeouts in the game.
Entering the bottom of the final frame, the score was still 0-0. Leo Cedeño led off with a double and, after an out and two free passes, one intentional, Deacon induced a groundball to third that 3B fired home for the second out. The count went full to Louis Wampler before a fourth ball forced in a run as the Capitals celebrated a hard-fought victory. Deacon (0-3) was unlucky in defeat, allowing only four hits, while Bedard’s first start of the year, a two-hitter, is one he will not quickly forget.
In the second game, the Capitals got the offence going earlier and Masa Hashiguchi picked up where Bedard left off, punching out 10 in five scoreless, with only three hits and no free passes. Hashiguchi (2-0) has yet to allow a run in 12 innings this year.
The London Mets blew open a 4-1 game through three with 17 runs in the fourth, coasting to a 22-3 win. The never-ending inning had several remarkable feats, including Drake Yoshioka doubling to start the fourth-inning explosion, later drawing a walk, and then singling. Zachary Stroman had two of his three doubles in the inning.
Overall, the club had 13 hits in five innings, while the youthful London Legends committed 10 errors, walked eight, and hit five batters. Yoshioka was a one-man wrecking ball, giving up only Conner Brown’s round-tripper and striking out 9 in four frames, finishing a triple short of the cycle in the leadoff spot.
The Mets were kind enough to spread out their 15 runs over six frames in Game Two. The red-hot Stroman, who concluded his NAIA baseball career at St. Ambrose University in 2019, went yard twice, while Jamie Dix was 3-for-3 with a walk. Freddy Mosier, who played at Middlebury College in Stroman’s final university year, spun four no-hit frames with five Ks as he moved to 2-0.
NBL Week 5: London Mets at London Legends (22-3, 15-1)
No wrap written.
NBL Week 5: Essex Arrows at Herts Falcons (31-7, 14-3)
No wrap written.
NBL Week 6: Lancashire Legends at Essex Arrows (5-15, 8-9)
No wrap written.
NBL Week 6: London Mets at London Capitals (2-4, 6-10)
The Mets ran their NBL-best winning streak to eight before the Capitals proved that they are a force to be reckoned with as well.
BBF National Baseball League Standings
Box scores are available here [link]. All games contested in or immediately outside Greater London, regardless of team name.
Home team listed second.
Week 5 (May 30)
Lancs. Legends 0 – Capitals 1 (29/5)
Lancs. Legends 0 – Capitals 8 (29/5)
Mets 22 – Lon. Legends 3 (5)
Arrows 31 – Falcons 7
Mets 15 – Lon. Legends 1 (6)
Arrows 14 – Falcons 3
Week 6 (June 6)
Lancs. Legends 5 – Arrows 15
Mets 2 – Capitals 4
Lancs. Legends 8 – Arrows 9
Mets 6 – Capitals 0
League Leaders in Lower Leagues
Five more British Baseball leagues began play as the calendar turned to June, with the three-tier British Baseball League commencing play, along with Single-A independent circuits West Midlands Baseball League and Westcountry Baseball League. In the upper divisions, the Sidewinders remain the only undefeated team, while two organizations feature league-leading squads at multiple levels. The newly formed Westcountry League finally opened after two weeks of play were wiped out by precipitation, and Britain’s other southwestern circuit – the freshly renamed South West and Wales Baseball League – finally managed to play a full spate of games.
When it did, the Cardiff Merlins provided the fireworks, as Pat Anthony brought back memories of Wilson Alvarez’ wild 1991 no-hitter (or A.J. Burnett in 2001, for slightly younger readers) in Game One of the May 30 doubleheader. Cardiff’s opening starter flirted with a no-hitter in a 14-4 victory, permitting only a single safety in a rollercoaster performance that saw him punch out seven in four frames, but also issue seven free passes.
The Merlins’ Kano would, however, etch his name in the record books in the nightcap with a dominant performance. Well aware of the field conditions in British baseball, the crafty moundsman made it virtually impossible for the hapless Bristol Brunels – two weeks into their first season – to connect, striking out 11 without walking a batter in four frames. Only a fielding miscue denied Kano the perfect game.
Baseball in Wales
The 22-0 victory – shortened three innings by mercy rule – gave Wales’ only non-university team a sweep on Opening Day. As we reported previously, the Merlins had already made history before Anthony toed the rubber, as the inclusion this year of ‘Wales’ in the former South West Baseball League’s (SWBL) name made it the first time since British baseball began league play in 1890 that a circuit outside of Wales referenced the country or any of its cities in a league name.
Wales, of course, did not feature any known baseball teams between 1952-2016, when Swansea University began play. The new appellation for the southwestern circuit reflects the recent growth of the sport in the Celtic country, as Cardiff University fielded a team in 2018-19, while the Merlins joined the SWBL in 2019.
Winning a single league is tricky, but two British baseball clubs feature table-toppers in two circuits. Milton Keynes – a city not far north of London – sits in first place in the BBF Double-A Central and the independent Single-A East of England. Meanwhile, the Essex Redbacks – one of three baseball organizations representing the county to the east of England’s capital – are tied for the pole position in the BBF’s Triple-A South and Single-A Central circuits. In the Northern League’s Single-A Division, the Sheffield Cubs started with a sweep and a no-hitter of their own, as two pitchers held Halton hitless in a 15-4 win, certainly in the running for most runs allowed in a no-no.
With the start of play in the five independent leagues – plus the historic launch of the Women’s Baseball UK League and Opening Day in the Scottish National League – all but one of British baseball’s 18 leagues have activated. The only exception is BSUK Universities – a five-conference, 24-team league – which lost a second-consecutive season to COVID-19, a real disappointment after BaseballSoftballUK’s successful efforts* to have the sport recognised by British Universities and Colleges Sport (BUCS). Women’s baseball and Baseball Scotland will be reported on separately, but June 6 also marked the first baseball west of Bristol and north of East Anglia in the 2021 season.
See fortnight’s full results and league tables here [British Baseball 2021, Weeks 05-06].
If you know the results (including a postponement) of any these games, please do leave a comment. If any clubs would like to submit box scores, statistics, or game feats, we welcome them to email@example.com.
If the various leagues and classifications are new to you, or if you follow British baseball and are—understandably—confused anyway, check out out primer here [link].
Notes and Key
Footnoted player accomplishments do not denote special interest to a certain team, merely that our staff visited the team’s website or Facebook page in its quest for scores.
Red font: make-up games required.
Yellow highlight: results unknown, likely postponed.
Team names in special colours denote only their place in our internal multi-year archive (which is particularly strong for the 1930s-70s (thanks to Project COBB and, to a lesser extent, the British Newspaper Archive) and 2003-present. We welcome any schedules, results, clippings, statistics, or other information for any league in any year.
 Which featured the exact same line as Anthony, but over nine innings.
 It is worth noting for transparency purposes that the author helped launch of BSUK Universities during his summer leading communications for BaseballSoftballUK during the London Series and GB Softball’s Olympic qualification run. He would have continued to play a role had the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons not been cancelled.
 For readers outside Britain, BUCS is the equivalent of the NCAA, NAIA, and NJCAA all rolled into one. The inclusion of baseball and softball in the organisation was a significant move, as it recognises the title-winner of the National University Baseball Championship as a true ‘varsity’ national champion, rather than the winner being equivalent of club baseball in the U.S. The inclusion also brings baseball and softball more into the national spotlight and opens up possibilities for funding, as BUCS—like the NCAA—is a well-known entity. Furthermore, universities’ sport and students’ unions will now be much likely to recognise clubs and offer them assistance, with some becoming eligible for grants, facilities, and transportation for the first time. In short, the change is significant, along the lines of, for example, rugby being accepted as a NCAA sports.