Baseball was given the go ahead to restart on August 1st and it saw teams across the country dust off their cleats and mitts to get back out on the diamond; the Muskets were no different, itching to get on the field before the end of the summer. Due to the pandemic many leagues and competitions were cancelled in 2020, yet the British Baseball Federation gave clubs across mainland U.K a lifeline with their summer tournament, with entry fees being donated to the NHS, and the Muskets jumped at the chance to get involved.
Their first task is the South West regional Single A division, facing off against the Bristol Bats and Bristol Buccaneers, two of Bristol Baseball Club’s four senior teams, with Sunday the 9th of August seeing the Muskets long competitive lay off ended with a double header against the Bats at their ground at Somerdale Pavilions. Both games were tightly contested in the blistering Bristol sun, with the teams splitting the double header with a win each, Taunton taking the first game 25-6, followed by the Bats fighting back to take the second game 18-17.
The long layoff showed early in the first game of the day, with neither team taking hold of the contest, although both starting pitchers showed little signs of rustiness, as they both kept their opposition offences quiet. The early innings were a cagey affair as the lead changed hands a couple of times, with both teams clearly feeling their way back into the groove of competitive baseball. The game was finely poised heading into the 5th innings, with the score tied at 4-4, it was the Muskets that took the initiative, finally putting together rallies in both the 5th and 6th innings, adding 8 runs in each to take the game 25-6. The combination of solid hitting, smart base running and good defence allowed the Muskets to taste their first victory of the tournament.
Unfortunately for the Taunton outfit they were unable to savour that winning feeling as they went straight back to work in game two. The second game allowed both teams to ring the changes and the Muskets were able to give some new players their debuts, as well as giving a few players a rest from the first game, with the early afternoon heat taking its toll. The visitors took to the second game in the same way they finished the first, raking up a healthy lead over the first couple of innings and again showing some fine fielding to keep the Bristol Bats at bay. At one point the Muskets held a 15 to 2 lead over their hosts, however a pitching change for the Bats saw a change in momentum. The Taunton team began to struggle at the plate and, as the Bats fought back, errors began to creep into their defence. The Muskets only managed to add 2 more runs in the top of the 4th innings, leaving them on 17 in total, while the Bats made headway, adding 16 over their next three innings at the plate, splitting the double header with an 18-17 win for the hosts. Whilst it was a bitter defeat to take in such a tightly contested game, there were highlights for the visitors, veteran lefty Alan Trunks hit a three run home run off his first pitch of the day, gliding the ball over the right field fence, and every player, including the debutants, recorded hits in both games.
The Muskets will travel to Bristol again on August 16th to take on the Bristol Buccaneers in another double head at Somerdale Pavilion in a bid to add to their wins in the hope of making it to the national playoffs in September