Liverpool Trojans Baseball Club Est.1946
"In the beginning of British Baseball, God created the Trojans, and all was good. Over the years and many championships God decided the Trojans needed to grow, so a second Trojan team was created and all was good. Then there was confusion, as there was only one team, yet in different ballparks at the same time, so the name Twojans was born. This in turn confused the Twojans, not knowing what to call their team mates and their style of play. Seeing their style of play and behaviour on the field, the Twojans started saying Onejan behaviour, and the name was born. The rest was history: No matter how many teams grew in the Trojan Baseball club, were to be only Trojans....Onejans, Twojans and all"
- The Book of Trojans (Genesis 1.1)
Game 2: Hull Scorpions 19 Liverpool Trojans 20
Unbelievably, there are some people on this planet that think baseball is boring. Comments like “It’s too slow” or “nothing ever happens” are the kind of phrases that are banded about. Now, we’ve known for years that they are wrong, but there is no way that even the most hardened baseball sceptic could fail to be entertained by the action contained within this thrilling battle.
The pitching would be contested between the Trojans’ Paul Smith and Scorpions’ Dom Rawlins. On paper, this seemed a good match-up. It would prove to follow the script in the early frames, as the Trojans would edge ahead picking up a run in the bottom half of both the first and second innings, before Hull scored four in the third to take the lead for the first time all-day.
Hull would extend to their lead to 7-2 in the top of the fourth on hits from Mark Storey, Phil Wells and Chris Marshall before the Trojans pulled two back as Victor Juarez drove in Chris Gary, before himself scoring on Ian Blease’s single.
With the scores at 7-4 to Hull after four innings, the Trojans made a change on the mound as Matty Waddington replaced Smith, who would stay in the game at shortstop. Waddington endured a tricky first outing of the season two weeks ago against Halton, and was determined to give a strong showing this time out.
He got off to the perfect start as Wiltshire could only manage to a slow-roller back to the pitcher and he had one out on the board. After that however, things didn’t go quite as well as he would walk the next three hitters, before hitting the fourth, giving up three consecutive singles and then walking two more. Just like that, the Scorpions were ten runs ahead – this is important and we’ll come back to this later.
More walks would follow, compounded with errors and even bad luck would play its part before Storey would drive in what would prove to be Hull’s final run. By the time Waddington struck out Rawlins to get out of the inning, Hull had a seemingly unassailable lead of 19-4.
They often say that “it’s not over until it’s over”, but if we’re being honest, when someone says that, it usually is and that is only really said to try and keep spirits up to avoid further embarrassment. As the Trojans walked off the field they knew that, after that marathon inning, the game time limit was going to be too close to allow any further chances. It was now or never, but do we really think that they believed they could do it? One player that did was Martin Godsall. The game one hero was now watching from the bench but his words of encouragement wouldn’t stop ringing out until their fate was sealed.
Up until this point, Rawlins had pitched a gem. And make no mistake at this level, restricting your opposition to only four runs is most certainly a gem, regardless of which team you’re facing. Paul Smith would lead off for the Trojans and pick up a walk, before scoring on Chris Taggart’s double down the left-field line. One run down, many more to go.
Wren would pinch hit for Gary and pick up a walk, before JJ Gil laced a line drive into right to score two more. That’s three of the sixteen runs needed to win, no outs on the board. Was anyone starting to worry yet?
Juarez and Waddington would both pick up walks as Rawlins began show signs of fatigue. With the bases loaded and the big-hitting Ricky Brito at the plate, maybe now, if he could unload a bomb over the fence, there might be some twitches among the Scorpions and the Trojans might start to think that the impossible was possible. Rawlins caught Brito looking though and the first out was recorded. The impossible just got a whole lot harder.
Up next was Ian Blease, who lined a hit to right to score Gil and Juarez for the eighth and ninth runs for the Trojans. It was then Dave Martin Baez’s turn, he too didn’t disappoint as his single put runners on first and second for Smith. Smith unleashed a three RBI bases-clearing triple down the right-field line and the Scorpions lead was cut to 19-12.
Chris Taggart’s single to right would score Smith and the Trojans were now six behind with only one out. Wren would walk, and at this point, enough was enough for Rawlins as he was relieved of pitching duties by Andy Wiltshire.
The first batter that Wiltshire would be JJ Gil, his single would drive in another pair and put the score to 19-15. Just as the momentum seemed to be entirely with the Trojans, Wiltshire would get Juarez to go down swinging and the Scorpions were one out away.
Waddington would single, driving in the speedy Gil all the way from first. 19-16.
Ricky Brito then crushed a two-run jack over the right-field fence. The scores were Hull Scorpions 19, Liverpool Trojans 18. Maybe, just maybe, it was possible.
At the plate was first baseman Ian Blease. His hard-hit grounder to third proved too hot for Marshall to handle and the tying run was aboard. With quicker wheels than Blease on the bench, Paul Mason was called in to pinch-run.
Up next was Dave Martin Baez, and I don’t know if you’ve ever seen that episode of The Simpsons where Homer gets confused by the signs given by Mr. Burns, loses concentration, and takes a ball to the head? Dave channelled Homer perfectly and took one of the lid. The tying run moved over to second, the winning run was on first. Again, with younger fresher legs available to the Trojans, Conor Baker Latham was brought in to pinch-run.
Over the years the Trojans have, so many times, relied on the RBI production of their powerhouse shortstop, Paul Smith. And guess who was up to bat?
It was an at-bat that was streamed live on Facebook and so far has been seen by over 3000 people. With a pitchers count of one ball and two strikes, Smith lasers a line drive over third base down the left-field line. Mason will easily score from second and the game will be tied. Baker-Latham got a great lead from first though and he’s round second coming into third in no time. He’s sent home. His helmet falls from his head and he digs deep and pounds the turf with his cleats. The throw comes in from the outfield, it's offline and he is safe. The Trojans win in the most incredible circumstances by a score of 20-19. Smith had walked, tripled and doubled, while picking up five RBIs all in the same inning!
Both Baker-Latham and Smith were mobbed on the field by their teammates. Huge shouts of celebration could be heard from the Trojans’ players and spectators. A remarkable result!
But here’s the bit I said I’d come back to -
There is an unwritten rule in baseball that when a team is ten runs up, they stop stealing. The reasons for this are often debated, but they primarily stem from respect for your opponent and not wishing to embarrass them, or their pitcher, by running the score up.
Effectively, this means that Hull turned down additional run support out of respect for their opposition and, in this instance, that came back to bite them. However, it is fair to say that nobody could have seen this kind of comeback coming.
I don’t doubt that this decision was the subject of much debate on the long journey home to Humberside that evening, and it will be interesting to see if this turn-of-events causes a change in behaviour from them, or any other teams in what is often to referred to as a “blow-out situation” in the future.
Waddington was credited with the win despite giving up twelve runs in one inning pitched, while Wiltshire picked up the loss.
Game Report: Ian Blease