Northants Centurions (2-2) were the visitors to Western Park on Sunday to take on the Leicester Blue Sox (1-1). The home team were returning to the diamond following a week off, during which the Centurions picked up their first wins against Cambridge Lancers.
Game one of the double-header saw Blue Sox starting pitcher Joel Upton square off against Gareth Beeby, taking the hill for the visitors, in a well-paced and evenly contested matchup. Leicester, with some last-minute changes to the lineup following an injury to second baseman Sebastien Stafford, started shakily on defence with a pair of errors helping the Centurions offence score 2 runs in the opening frame. However, Leicester soon settled down, with Upton striking out the side in the 2nd before clawing a run back themselves in the bottom half of the inning. Northants extended their lead back to 2 on a walk and a pair of hits in the 3rd, but the Leicester lineup continued to roll, tying the game with 2 runs of their own on hits from Rikson Martina, Andrew Davidson and Alfie Dunton. Leicester then took the lead in the 4th as Upton started to mow down opposing hitters; only allowing three baserunners over his final 3 innings. Leicester added three more runs in the 6thinning with a parade of hits, including RBI doubles from Diogo Barros and Martina, before Martina came on to close out the game after 6 strong innings from Upton. Overpowering the bottom of the Northants lineup, Martina struck out the first two hitters he faced before fielding a comebacker from Northants leadoff hitter Jake Mawunga to end the game.
Martina stayed on the mound to start the second half of the twin-bill, opposed by Centurions player-manager Nick Russell who ran into a motivated Leicester lineup, following their game one victory who leapt out to a 9-0 advantage, fuelled by effective baserunning along with seven hits across the first two innings. In the third inning Martina’s control broke down, walking the bases loaded before hitting opposing shortstop Louis Bojko with a two-strike pitch to bring in a run, although Martina was able to escape the inning with no further damage. The Blue Sox added another 5 runs in the bottom of the 3rdoff a tiring Russell, and with a 13-run cushion sent Andrew Davidson to the mound for his pitching debut in the 4th. After striking out his first batter, Davidson was unable to put hitters away, issuing three walks and a two-run single to Mawunga, but catcher Dave Burke was able to erase one baserunner attempting to steal before Davidson induced a groundball to end the inning. The Sox were kept quiet in the bottom of the inning and Armando Da Silva, on in relief was able to strikeout the side in the final inning to secure game two and a sweep of the double header.
Leicester Blue Sox player-manager Burke said after the game “the boys were fantastic today. They battled through a toughly contested game one; finishing strong to take the W. In game two we were able to turn it on, got our bats firing and our pitching today was superb.”
Next up for Leicester Blue Sox is a visit to play Cambridge Royals on May 5th. First pitch at 12 noon.