2/6/19, Cambridge – Leicester Blue Sox (9-1) took to the road on Sunday to visit bottom of the table Cambridge Lancers (0-10) in a reverse fixture of the previous week. The home team, who are in their debut season in the league, were still searching for their first win of the campaign in their debut season. Leicester took the opportunity to rest some of their most established players for the trip, handing debuts to two new players and another returning from injury.
Leicester manager Dave Burke gave Armando Da Silva the ball for game one, his first start for the club since 2015, with Adam Gilbert toeing the rubber for the home team. Cambridge started slowly on defence, with Leicester taking advantage of walks, errors and other defensive lapses to jump out to a 10-run lead after three innings, with the big hit, a two-run knock, coming from debutant centrefielder Zeke Camarillo in the third. Da Silva proved dominant on his return to the mound striking out five over the first three innings. Leicester added five more runs off rookie pitcher Steve Merry, relieving for Gilbert in the fourth, as the bats came alive with four hits. The Lancers put up a mini rally in the bottom half of the inning, loading the bases on a hit and a pair of walks, but Da Silva was able to escape the jam with a strikeout of third baseman Ryo Suzuki, his seventh of the game. The Blue Sox added six more runs in the final inning, with an RBI double from Da Silva and a two-run triple from Camarillo. Camarillo relieved Da Silva in the bottom of the inning to complete a sparkling debut with a pair of strikeouts to secure the two-hit shutout and the 21-0 victory.
Game two saw Leicester make several changes, going with a rookie-dominant lineup with six first-year players, including debutants Lucy Honychurch and Tim Clamp, behind Matt Deacon making his first career start. The changes didn’t interrupt the Leicester bats as they scored 10 runs in the first two innings on six hits and four errors from the shaky Cambridge infield. Deacon managed to escape the first inning with a pair of strikeouts, conceding just two runs but began to struggle in the second. After retiring the lead off batter on a groundball back to the mound Deacon lost control of his fastball, and when he found the zone Cambridge were able to put bat on ball, scoring five runs to leave the score at 10-7 after two innings. Cambridge limited Leicester to a single run in the third, and Burke turned to rookie James Kew-Moss to hold the lead. The rookie walked the first two batters but was able to battle back with a strikeout and a double play to blank the Cambridge offence. Leicester added five more runs in the fourth inning that included a two-run home run from Scott Fulton-Brown. Dec Armstrong was tasked with holding the lead in his pitching debut, but didn’t fare as well as Kew-Moss, conceding five runs as he struggled to consistently find the strike zone. Blue Sox, holding a four-run lead, were able to add two more to their total in the final inning. After losing their first two outs quickly against Suzuki, now on the mound for Cambridge, three straight hits from pinch hitter Scott McMillan, shortstop Rikson Martina and Camarillo, padded the lead to six. The extended buffer was tested in the final inning. Martina relieved Armstrong but initially fared no better, walking the first two batter he faced, both coming around to score and allowing another hit and walk to put real pressure on the Leicester defence. With the tying run on deck, Martina struck out opposing player-manager Ben Wilson to end the contest with a final score of 18-14.
After stretching their unbeaten run to 10 games and moving to 11-1 on the season, Leicester Blue Sox manager Dave Burke said: “I felt this was a good opportunity to test the squad depth that we have acquired over the past few months, and the players that have come in have shown they are able to compete at this level. We challenged players in new roles and new positions, with everyone coming through those tests admirably. The performance we have seen today has given me great confidence in our squad, ahead of our trip to Long Eaton next weekend.”
Next up Leicester Blue Sox take on the second place Long Eaton Storm (9-1) at West Park, Long Eaton on June 9th. First pitch will be at 12 noon.