The Taunton Muskets took to the road again on Sunday to take on the 2018 South West Baseball League champions Exeter Spitfires in Devon. Having suffered defeat in their first two games, both very tight affairs, the Muskets were looking to change their fortunes against an Exeter side also struggling at the start of the 2019 season. It would prove to be another close game for the Muskets, with their batting still cold in the early summer months, yet they managed to prevail off the back of more impressive pitching and a brilliant squad effort to win 14-5.
This victory truly can be called a full squad effort, as the Muskets took 15 players down to Devon and each of them played their part in this impressive win. The team got off to another good start, taking an early 2-0 lead in the top of the first, with Alastair Hutton, continuing to perform with the bat, knocking in one of the two runs. While the batting improved against the Spitfires, the Muskets still failed to meaningfully add to the scoreboard and had to rely on the increasingly more dominating pitching of Andres Rivas Bianco. With Jamie Pollard calling a great game behind the plate, Andres kept the Spitfires’ bat quiet, only allowing one hit through the first 9 batters and keeping the reigning champions scoreless through the first four innings.
As the pitching kept the Muskets in the lead, their batting started to warm up in the early May sun. It got off to a great start in the bottom of the 2nd inning, with Henry Stirzaker slogging a peach over the left field fence to record his first home run. The Muskets then added three more runs in the top of the 4th to take a comfortable 6-0 lead, a scoreline that did not reflect how well the Muskets had been at the plate in the early exchanges. That was shown when the Spitfires began to get a bit of momentum, picking up a run in the bottom of the 4th, before pouncing on a pitching change to tack on another 3 runs.
This only spurred the Muskets on to up their game and a quick change of pace saw them add to their lead, with some more composed hitting giving the visitors a healthy 9-5 lead heading into the 7th inning. It was then that the team really began to click with the bat, as a big 5 run top of the 7th gave the Spitfires an insurmountable target to reach. Their task was made harder as Henry took to the mound and showed some nice command to keep the Spitfires off the scoreboard. He was aided by the fielders behind him, with some nice infield plays from Kevin Snow, Stuart Pike and Mark Cross meant any balls in play didn’t cause any damage. The Muskets were unable to continue their dominance in the final few innings, but they were able to see out the win with Halin Bianco coming in to pitch out the game as closer. Showing off a lovely side arm delivery which left the Spitfires struggling to catch up to his pace, the Muskets comfortably won the game 14-5 to record their first victory of the season.
The Muskets travel to Plymouth next Sunday to take on the Mariners, the only undefeated side in the central and southern divisions.