UK Little League Teams Win Through to European Qualifiers
Tue 17 Jun 2014
by Taylor Wolfe
Cloud and wind were the prevailing conditions at the UK Little League Qualifying Tournament on the weekend of 14-15 June at Farnham Park near Slough. Seven teams over three separate divisions were competing for a chance to play in the 2014 European and African Little League Qualifiers in July.
Along with the Little League Qualifiers, four teams battled it out in the UK's first-ever U12 Minors tournament.
The weekend was designed to finalise the teams that will represent the UK in the 2014 European and African Little League Qualifiers in the U17, U15 and U13 age groups.
Players from all over the UK arrived at Farnham Park early on Saturday morning to prepare for their tournament. This was the first time that Farnham Park had hosted the UK Little League Qualifier, and the facility was in great shape.
The main baseball field was used for the Senior and Junior tournaments, with the Little League Major and Minor competitions on the two youth baseball fields.
The upshot was:
The Southern All-Stars will travel to Novara, Italy to compete in the Senior (U17) Qualifiers from 6-12 July.
The London Mets will play in Kutno, Poland, at the European Little League headquarter complex, in the Junior (U15) Qualifiers from 7-10 July.
The London Youth Baseball League will also travel to Kutno to compete in the Little League Majors (U13) Qualifiers from 12-20 July.
If any of these teams continue their success, they will travel to various locations in the United States for Little League World Series tournaments in August.
SENIOR (U17) DIVISION
Game 1: Southern All-Stars 16, Northern All-Stars 0
Game 2: Southern All-Stars 14, Northern All-Stars 1
The Senior (U17) Qualifying tournament was played between the Northern All-Stars and the Southern All-Stars, a best-of-three game series to decide the team that would qualify for the European and African Qualifier in Novara, Italy.
The Northern All-Stars were primarily players from Halton and Leicester, while the Southern All-Stars were primarily players from the London Youth Baseball League and Herts.
Game One took place on Saturday at 12:30 on the main baseball diamond. The Southern All-Stars began their dominance early and carried it through the rest of the game. Excellent pitching by Marty Cullen Jnr complemented by consistent hitting gave them an impressive 16-0 win against the Northern team.
The Northern All-Stars needed to win in Game Two for a chance to play a third and deciding game, but the Southern All-Stars’ bats stayed hot and more excellent pitching, this time by Zack Longboy they easily handled the North again, winning 14-1.
The Southern All-Stars will now travel to Novara, Italy for the Senior Qualifier in July. Great Britain lost in the championship game last year but now have another chance to compete and hopefully move on to the Senior League World Series in Bangor, Maine in the United States.
JUNIOR (U15) DIVISION
Game 1: London Mets 4, London Youth Baseball League 3
Game 2: London Youth Baseball League 8, London Mets 2
Game 3: London Mets 17, London Youth Baseball League 7
The London Youth Baseball League All-Stars and the London Mets All-Stars were the two teams competing in the Junior (U15) Qualifier. This was also a best-of-three game series played on the main baseball diamond.
Game One started at 3:15 on Saturday so that a second game could be played later in the afternoon. Each team got on the board early, but strong defensive play made it difficult for both teams to generate runs. The London Mets led 4-3 going into the bottom of the sixth inning. The London Youth Baseball League loaded the bases but Mets’ pitcher Freddie Mosier came through, closing out the game and giving the Mets the victory.
London Youth Baseball League needed to win Game Two to send the series to a final game and to keep their hopes of Poland alive. This was a hard-fought game that came to an end just as the sun was drawing down with LYBL levelling the series convincingly, winning 8-2.
With the series tied at one game each, Game Three was set for 3:00 on Sunday. This was one of the last games of the tournament, and it drew the attention of players and parents from other divisions. London Youth and the Mets continued to play at a high level and the game went back and forth through the first few innings.
The London Youth Baseball League led 7-6 going into the top of the last inning of play. With the pressure of one last inning to try to stay alive, the London Mets had their most impressive batting performance of the tournament, scoring 11 runs to lead 17-7. The Mets quickly closed out their opponents in the bottom of the inning and will now play in the Junior Qualifiers in Kutno, Poland in July.
LITTLE LEAGUE MAJORS (U13) DIVISION
The London Youth Baseball League, London Sports, and the London Mets took part in a round-robin tournament to see who would move on to the European and African Qualifier in Kutno, Poland.
Game 1: London Youth Baseball League 10, London Mets 0
Game 2: LondonSports 8, London Mets 6
Game 3: London Youth Baseball League 4, LondonSports 1
Game One was played between the London Youth Baseball League and the London Mets. London Youth came out of the gate swinging, scoring early and often. The Mets had difficulty getting their bats going, and great pitching and defence by London Youth didn't help. After a 10-run lead had been gained and the Mets went down in the top of the fourth inning, the London Youth Baseball League took the game on the mercy rule.
After failing to score against London Youth, the London Mets came out aggressively in the early innings against LondonSports in Game Two. This game went back and forth, with both teams putting up runs.
The game went down to the wire, but some great pitching by the LondonSports team in the sixth inning helped them get the win. With two losses, the London Mets had lost their chance to compete in the final on Sunday.
Game Three, the final round-robin game of the day between the London Youth Baseball League and LondonSports, had no implications because the teams would play each other again in the final on Sunday, with the winner going to Europe.
Although this was known by both teams, it did not stop the London Youth Baseball League from playing competitively throughout the game. They jumped out to an early lead after the first inning and with multiple steals in every inning their lead grew. London Sports seemed content, knowing they would play again tomorrow, to treat the game as good practice. But London Youth obviously wanted to win and, leading by more than 10 runs after the fourth inning, took the game on the mercy rule.
Little League Major Division Final:
London Youth Baseball League 4, London Sports 1
Both teams looked ready to play ball at noon on Sunday for the chance to continue their season at the European and African Little League Qualifier. The LondonSports team was really into this game, unlike on Saturday afternoon, making great pitches and great defensive stops when necessary. But even though LondonSports were holding their own defensively, their bats could not get going against excellent pitching by the London Youth Baseball League team.
LondonSports mounted a final threat in the sixth inning, but the London Youth Baseball League kept their heads and held on to win by a score of 4-1. Both teams had battled hard, but London Youth will go on to represent the UK in Poland in July. If successful there, they will have a chance to play in the coveted Little League World Series in Williamsport, Pennsylvania in August. This event is televised by ESPN and would be a very impressive feat by British Baseball.
LITTLE LEAGUE MINORS (U12) DIVISION
This was the first time a Little League Minor Division tournament had been held in the UK, and what better place than the new baseball and softball complex at Farnham Park? Although the champion of this tournament would not move on to any other qualifying competition, the event will help these young players prepare for qualifying tournaments in the future.
Five teams had entered the tournament but unfortunately the Essex Redbacks were unable to attend, leaving Herts, the London Mets, LondonSports and the London Youth Baseball League in contention.
The first game was between the London Mets and Herts, both looking ready to play and have some fun. Both teams put on a good show, but Herts could not stop the Mets’ offense and the Mets went on to win by 14-3.
The London Youth Baseball League played LondonSports in the second Minors game on Sunday. Great starting pitching and consistent offense by London Youth helped them handle LondonSports and move on to the final to face the London Mets.
A third place game was played between Herts and LondonSports on Sunday afternoon. Each team really wanted to go out with a win and receive a trophy, and the teams fought hard throughout the game. But some key hits by LondonSports helped them in the late innings and they claimed third place in the tournament.
Little League Minor Division Final:
London Youth Baseball League 9, London Mets 4
The final took place at 3:00 on Sunday between the London Youth Baseball League and the London Mets. Each team had had dominant performances leading up to this final, creating real excitement for the championship game.
After the third inning, the score was tied at 3-3. But the London Youth Baseball League had a big fourth inning, putting up four runs including a three-run homer and they now led 7-3.
London Youth added two more runs and were leading 9-3 going in the last inning. The Mets quickly scored one run in the bottom of the sixth, but a strike out ended the game. The London Youth Baseball League won 9-4 in an extremely competitive contest, becoming the first-ever UK Little League Minor Division Champions.
This year’s UK Little League Qualifier proved to be a very exciting event for all the players, coaches and parents who played and watched quality baseball at the new Farnham Park facility over the weekend.
Congratulations to all our champions and good luck to them in the European and African Qualifiers. A big thank you goes to all the players, parents, umpires, and volunteers for helping to make this event possible, as well as to Tournament Director Will Lintern, BaseballSoftballUK and the British Baseball Federation.