This article was written for, and first appeared on, baseballsoftballuk.com.
In a closely-contested weekend of baseball in Hadlow, Kent, played on 25-27 May, Baseball Scotland triumphed in a six-team competition hosted by the Kent Buccaneers. The event was the first ever in England to feature baseball teams from Ireland, Scotland and England, with the host Kent Buccaneers and All-Star teams from the North, Southwest and West Midlands representing the latter.
Very few games were decided by more than one or two runs and there were plenty of heroics along the way. Mariners Baseball, from the Irish Baseball League, earned a 6-5 walk-off win on Day Two against the Buccaneers on a two-run homer to dead centre field from the appropriately-named Rob Hero.
Later in the day, the Northern All-Stars were the only team to defeat Scotland thanks to several impressive performances. At one point, Scotland had the bases loaded when a ball was hit in the hole on the right side, where Charlie Batho pounced on it and fired home for an out. The game ended on an astonishing leaping dive from shortstop A.J. Tosses that saved two runs and preserved a 2-0 shutout victory for pitcher Jamie Ratcliff.
The third day saw the final standings contested. In the day’s first game, the Northern squad defeated the West Midlands. Then, in the mid-morning game, the Buccaneers triumphed in a slugfest over the Mariners 19-11, despite a grand slam from the M’s Leo Farrell.
In the final, Scotland took on the South West Baseball League All-Stars, who had lost only once over the weekend, in a game against the Scots. The final lived up to its billing, with Scotland’s starter Sam Davidson and South West reliever Miguel Sánchez electric on the mound. A brilliant throw to first to record an out from the South West’s centre fielder, Vilmantas Ka, kept the game close, but Scotland eventually triumphed 5-3 and claimed the trophy.
“Jon Carter got in touch about having us down to play in a tournament and the big thing for me was that he was selling it as a coming together of all the leagues in the UK and Ireland to work together to promote baseball,” said Baseball Scotland President Paul Convoy. “With players from the US, Latin America and all over Europe on [these] teams, everyone coming [to] Kent for this one tournament is fantastic.”
The tournament was organised by Carter, a former Great Britain player and long-time British baseball organiser. Players from a total of 11 different countries took part in the Battle for Britain tournament.
“With there being so many [baseball] leagues around the UK and Ireland now, it seemed like a really good idea to try and unite everyone and get everyone together for a long weekend of baseball,” remarked Carter. “It was great to have every league from the UK and Ireland represented. Everyone’s attitude was top-notch and the quality of play was [even] higher than we all expected.”
The tournament will return to Hadlow next year over the Spring Bank Holiday, with more details available at a later date.
Baseball Scotland (5-1)
South West Baseball League All-Stars (4-2)
Kent Buccaneers (3-3)
Mariners Baseball (3-3)
Northern League All-Stars (3-3)
West Midlands Baseball League All-Stars (0-6)
MVP: Miguel Sánchez (South West)
Best Batter: Kelly Wright (Northern)
Best Pitcher: Sam Davidson (Scotland)