After finishing as runners-up in 2016, the Oxford Kings opened up the 2017 season at Farnham Park in a mixed doubleheader against new team, Taunton Tigers, and old foes the Essex Redbacks.
Taunton Tigers 13
Oxford Kings 8
Although the Tigers are a new team, many of them played for the old Bristol Badgers side, so we were familiar with many of their players, including their starting pitcher, Miguel Sánchez. Starting on the mound for the Oxford Kings once again was Masaharu Egawa, opening his 17th season with the club. After giving up three runs in the first inning and another two runs in the top of the second, Egawa had a 1-2-3 third inning. Down 5-0 in the bottom of the third, the Kings got on the board as lead-off batter Jeff Bowersox doubled to centerfield and got to third base on an error, later scoring on a wild pitch. Looking for some payback, Egawa hit a long line drive to right centerfield. It sailed over the head of both the centerfielder and rightfielder, and rolled to the wall. As the play ended, Egawa had cut the Taunton lead to 5-2 on an inside-the-park homerun.
Taunton came back with two unearned runs in the top of the fourth, both scored with two outs, and in the bottom of the fifth, the Kings got the runs back. A one-out double by centerfielder Santo Bains, a wild pitch sending him to third, and walks by secondbaseman Adam Stegeman and firstbaseman Aaron Kahn (Kahn’s third of the game) set up Anjo Peez, making his Oxford Kings debut. A hit drove in two.
Both teams were scoreless in the sixth, and then Taunton blew the game open with 6 runs in the top of the seventh. Not to be outdone, the Kings came back with four of their own in the bottom of the inning. A hit by Bains, a walk by Stegeman, a single by Kahn, and a hit batsman by Peez, along with some wild pitches and stolen bases scored the runs for Oxford. It was too little too late, though, as the Kings fell in the opening game.
Oxford Kings 25
Essex Redbacks 11 (5 innings)
Game 2 was a different affair altogether and quickly became farcical. Fortunately, it went in favour of the Kings. In a very long five-inning game, the Kings scored 6 runs in the first, 10 runs in the second, 8 runs in the third, and 1 in the fourth. Neither team scored in the fifth inning.
The Kings managed to bat around in each of the first three innings, chasing the Essex starter in the first before recording and out sending 16 batters to the plate in the second. After catching the whole first game, James Pearson started for the Kings on the mound but only managed 1 inning due to having to leave early, but he still go three plate appearances due to the long innings.
Notable performances were:
Shortstop Jeff Bowersox scoring three runs on four extra base hits.
Masa scoring twice on three hits and playing backstop after pitching a complete game in the first game
James Pearson scoring three runs before leaving.
Anjo taking over on the mound and pitching the last four innings effectively, while scoring a run of his own.
Santo Bains’ monster day – 5 plate appearances, 5 runs scored, two walks, two triples and one double
Aaron Kahn scoring three runs on a hit and two walks
Ryan Terribilini, who debuted in game 1 for the Kings, replacing Kahn and recording a hit and a run himself.
Nick Hill enduring being hit twice and walking once, scoring three runs.
David Phillips – 5 plate appearances, two runs, two walks and three hits!
Jaiten Solano, making his Oxford debut in game 2 scoring twice with a hit and a walk.
Overall, a nice day for baseball and a split.
The Kings would like to welcome Ryan Terribilini, Anjo Peez, Jaiten Solano and Chris Snelling, all playing for the first time today for the Kings.
We will look for revenge on Taunton next week when we face them on their home grounds!
While there were many outstanding performances, our player of the day was Santo Bains, who in two games reached base in all 9 of his plate appearances, tallying 7 runs scored, 5 hits, and extending his all time team record of being hit by a pitch in game 1.