FARNHAM PARK, Bucks. — Durham University won two-of-three group games on the first day of the 2016 Autumn National University Baseball Championship. Victories over Imperial College London and the University of East Anglia guaranteed the Palatinates a place in the semifinals on Day Two.
Durham opened with an easy 21-5 victory over Imperial College, the second rout over the hapless Londoners in the last two national tournaments. After a brief rest, however, Durham had a real test of its baseball mettle as they took on No. 1-ranked and three-time NUBC Champions Loughborough University.
In a game that was hard-fought until the end, the Thunderbirds prevailed over Durham, 8-7. The gracious victors described the game as “by far the best university game we’ve ever played!”
Needing a victory to guarantee over an always tough University of East Anglia to guarantee a place in the semis, the two clubs faced off for a pitching duel. With the outcome up for grabs till the end, the Black-and-Purple notched a 5-1 victory.
“[The day] went really well,” remarked club secretary Ben Turner. “Our hitting in the first two games was incredible.”
Durham will take on Group A victors University College London (3-0 in the autumn season) at 11:30 GMT. The Capitals finished third in the spring NUBC, their best ever finish since being founded in 2010. They completed 2015-16 with a 2-4 record which hardly reflects the level at which they played. Two of their losses were to national champions Loughborough, while they also had to face No. 2 University of Southampton. This time, they outscored opponents 29-11, defeating Leeds Beckett University and the University of Nottingham easily, sandwiched around an impressive 10-4 win over Southampton.
The winner will take on the winner of the Loughborough and Southampton contest, which features Britain’s top two baseball universities. Loughborough is riding a 25-game winning streak dating back to the start of the 2015-16 season, while the Mustangs finished in second place in the spring title bout. Both the championship match and the third place game occur at 14:30 GMT at Farnham Park.