A week that brought us some surprises, the ongoing impact of an injury, a player makes his presence felt with his new team, and two games that were much closer than any thought they would be. Without further adieu we bring you this past week’s update.
Since the injury to their assistant captain, Abbasali Kermalli, this Falcons team hasn’t looked the same. Amassing a total of 9 errors in this game they really couldn’t expect to come away with the victory. Nonetheless this game was a lot closer than anyone expected it would be. The Falcons started this game off sending two thirds of their lineup to the plate, and thanks to an Ali Manek triple, 2 runs were able to cross the plate. However, as was the theme in most of this game, every time the Falcons punched, the Lions had a counter punch ready, scoring 4 runs of their own in the bottom half of the inning. This Lions team seems to finding their groove as they make their way to the playoffs. Captain Asad Hussain seemed to have a moment of clarity as he belted a no doubt home run over the centre field fence. Overall this team’s strength has been the depth of their pitching, Ali Jaffer started this game and faced a total of 25 batters. His ratio of balls to strikes was even at 38 balls to 38 strikes, that ratio will need to improve going into the playoffs, but the gusting wind likely had a problem.
He gave way to last year’s POY (pitcher of the year) in Tarik Kamel after giving up a 6 run mercy inning to the Falcons in the 4th inning. Tarik Kamel came in and calmly shut down any hopes of a rally that the Falcons were putting together, pitching with an impressive 2.3 strikes for every ball he threw, required the Falcon hitters to put the bat on the ball and this Lions defence was up to the task. Shutting them down from all over the field. To beat this team you’re really going to have to hit line drives and play for singles. An interesting strategy moment in the last inning with the Lions up 15 – 11, Ali Manek leading off as a protected player was issued a free pass to second base. Seems captain Asad Hussain wanted to prevent the potential momentum shift that could occur from a big hit. Whatever the strategy it worked out as the Lions held off the Falcons and took the first game in their two game series.
Welcome to the League Mohammed Abdallah! It took until the 4th inning for the Eagles newest recruit to truly make his presence felt, but belting a HR over deep centre field, and sprinting around the bases almost catching and passing lead runner Kazim Merchant and nearly missing second base, was a good way to do it. The added player gives the Eagles 3 players now that have over the fence power in Kazim Merchant, Minhal Jaffer and now Mohammed Abdallah. None of that seems to matter though, as they cannot figure it out on defence. The Eagles committed 7 errors leading to 19 free bases for the Lions. To put that in perspective, if we count 4 bases to a single run, they basically handed the Lions almost 5 runs, and they only scored 4. Take out the rest of the Lions offensive output and a walk might’ve been enough to win the game for them.
Maybe that’s why the Lions team was so relaxed playing in this one, putting up 16 runs and scoring in bunches, with at least one run in every inning and 6 in a couple of them. The biggest take away for the Lions in this one is that their 5-8 part of their order is in a slump. That’s a couple weeks in a row when they haven’t got much production from that part of the order, and they’ll need to figure it out if they want to hold on to that second place spot they now occupy. Thankfully, the subs they’re employing have been getting it done, with father son combination of Tarik Kamel and Dylan Kamel getting a triple and inside the park HR in the same inning.
The Eagles scattered 8 hits across 5 innings, which was just one more than their error count. This team will need to do some soul searching as they have all the fire power to pull of some victories, but none of the discipline or team mentality they need to pull it together. Maybe it’s time for some trust exercises, who wants to be the first to do a trust fall?
Who are these Owls and what happened to the 0-6 start with blow out after blow out. It seems that the Owls have started to find their groove. Facing up against a formidable opponent in the Wolves and going down early 9-0, we thought this one was going to be over before it started. Queue a 6 run inning with every player in the lineup contributing and they’re right back in this one. They chased Mikael Ratansi off the mound who was throwing an abysmal 2 balls for every 1 strike, in favour of the captain Ali Merali who fared only slightly better with a 1:1 ratio. However, the truth about this Wolves team is that to beat them you have to figure out the top 5 in their lineup.
Mikael Ratansi – who should lead off from now on, Imran Nasser, Ali Nasser, Ali Merali, and Nadim Rahemtulla accounted for 16 of the 19 runs scored in this game. The only blemish on an otherwise perfect top 5 (in terms of getting on base) was the swinging strike out from Imran Nasser. However, the biggest blemish in this game was the Owls defence, it must be how hard the Wolves were hitting the ball, but the Owls team amassed a massive 12 errors in this game. 2 more errors than their total hit count. Take a second to read that again. Yeah, not a typo.
If this team figures it out from a defensive perspective, they should be a team you don’t want to face in the playoffs. The pitching of Allen Ahi coupled with the bat he brought was a much needed addition to this lineup, and this first game served as a warm up to what was the game of the day.
Game of the day for the Owls that is. Sadly for the Tigers this will be one to quickly forget. Coming in as the only undefeated team remaining, and responsible for giving losses to most of the rest of the league. This being the 3rd game in as many weeks these two teams have fared off, the Owls have gotten to know the Tigers offence and defence well. Now equipped with a game that got their confidence up, and their first round draft pick, Allen Ahi, on the mound. They were ready to announce their name in the win column. This game started out with a couple runners on for the Tigers, but after a strikeout looking to Miqdad Jaffer, and a pop out to the catcher by Abbas Allidina, all momentum was lost and the Tigers had nothing to show for their first inning. It wasn’t until the 3rd inning where either team was able to put up some runs – the Tigers put up 5 to take a 5-0 lead. Undeterred, the Owls fired back with a barrage of singles and a Nabeel Naqvi triple that put up 6 runs in the inning.
The Tigers followed up again with another 5 runs, now holding a 10-6 lead. So the Owls had a near repeat of their previous inning, scoring 5 of their own this time finding gaps all over the field with a barrage of extra base hits, capped off by an inside the park home run by Allen Ahi. Now up 11-10, the Owls held off the Tigers for another inning, scored another run for an insurance cushion and took a 12-10 lead into the last inning. Unable to admit defeat, the Tigers fought back, scoring 2 runs in the inning to tie the game up 12-12 going into the bottom of the inning. Now it was up to the heart of the Owls lineup to get them the victory. Assured that they wouldn’t lose this game, it was in their hands.
The inning started with a line drive to short stop, Irfahn Khimji showed off his reaction time diving for the ball – 1 out. Now a fly ball to left fielder, Hussein Allidina, he would make quick work of it – 2 outs. A ground ball to Irfahn Khimji, who picked it up, but whose throwing error resulted in Allen Ahi standing at 2B, and Hussain Habib up to bat. Habib who had been a perfect 3 for 3 on the day would get his 4th chance at bat, and the chance to play hero. He hit a high fly ball to RF, the ball stayed in the air for what seemed like an eternity, but was misplayed and dropped to the ground untouched. With 2 outs already and Allen Ahi on the move, that run crossed before the ball even had a chance to be picked up. Walk off…Owls Win!
With that we concluded the day on a fantastic finish. Congratulations to the Owls for beating the unbeaten. Next week we have a battle for second place as the Lions will take on the Wolves in an effort to get that important bye position. The Tigers attempt to regroup playing a double header and get back to their winning ways, while the Eagles try and stay relevant, and the Falcons decide if they’re willing to make a final push for that second place spot.