Game 1: Essex 8, London 7
Game 2: London 11, Essex 0
By Vince Warner
On paper this was always going to be a tough match-up, with both teams experiencing roster changes over the summer. The Redbacks were looking forward to getting out of the blocks early, while the Mammoths were looking forward to starting the season as THE club at Finsbury Park.
So both teams turned up in Game One with lots to prove, and the Mammoths showed their intentions early, with Louis Wampler singling and stealing two bases before being driven home by Sean Bennett in the top of the first inning.
The Redbacks replied quickly in the bottom of the first. Rob Yuille scored on a hit by Stuart Harper-Horn, and with two outs, two strikes on the batter and Harper-Horn on third, Mammoths’ catcher Louis Wampler tried to catch Harper-Horn off the base but threw the ball into left field to let another run in and give the Redbacks a 2-1 lead.
In the second inning, two of the Mammoths’ newest players, Yusuke Ueno and Osvaldo Badia Rivero, both scored and the Mammoths continued to hold the lead until the bottom of the fourth inning, when disciplined batting allowed the Redbacks to plate three runs and take a 5-3 lead.
The Mammoths were quick to respond, however, scoring two runs off some well-timed singles to tie the game.
After adding a further two runs courtesy of Dimitar Markov and Stuart Harper-Horn, the Redbacks felt that they had done enough to take the win, but the Mammoths had other ideas. Bob LaFlamme belted a two-run home run and it seemed like the game was headed to extra innings.
But this season’s Redbacks are a resilient side, and Dimitar Markov blasted a walk-off home run to earn Redbacks pitcher Arno Hardeveld his first win of the season
As is often the case with the London Mammoths, Game Two was a very different affair and it didn’t take them long to bounce back from their Game One disappointment. While Game One was the perfect opening spectacle for the fans, Game Two was all about the Mammoths’ new pitcher Yusuke Ueno.
The Mammoths started strongly, scoring two runs in the top of the first inning and adding a third in the top of the second.
Despite that shaky start, Essex pitcher Vince Warner managed to hold the Mammoths to just that three-run lead until the top of the fourth, when the Londoners took advantage of some errors and hits to take a 6-0 lead. By the sixth inning, tiredness was beginning to show in the Redbacks side and the Mammoths capitalised, scoring a further five runs and dashing any hopes of a Redbacks comeback.
The Mammoths, though disappointed in Game One, had much to celebrate in Game Two, with Yusuke Ueno pitching a six-inning shutout, striking out 10 with only one walk, and James Cavanagh going 3-for-3 with four RBIs.