Dateline: Dawes Hill Minor League Field

The Nationals Coach Mark was out of town so Assistant Coach Grossman was running the team. It was his first game in London Little League. This reporter caught up to him before the game and he said, “It is a big relief to be back on a baseball field. It has been a long year of not coaching a team. I came yesterday to make sure all was well and I think these Nationals will be ready today.”

Hunter led off the top of the first with a long double to right. Alexander walked and Marek beat out an infield single to load the bases. Ely singled to right to score Hunter and Alexander. AJ beat out an infield hit, Tommy walked and Logan walked and when the dust had cleared the Nats were up 4-0. Alexander went to the mound and looked sharp, he struck out the side. Top of the second and with two outs the Nationals went back to work. Hunter singled, Kenta walked, Alexander walked and with the bases loaded Marek drilled a double to center to score Hunter and Kenta. Ely followed up with another RBI single to first. Alexander took the mound, walked two and gave up an infield hit but finished the inning with three more strikeouts. After two it was Nats 7 A’s 0.

In the top of the third, the Nats went down quietly. Hunter came on and had some control problems but settled down and struck out two. Unfortunately, the A’s scored their four runs after another walk. Top of the fourth and it was suddenly only a three run game. The Nats picked up some insurance runs as Luke, Hunter and Kenta all walked. Alexander came up with a big infield single to first to score Luke. Marek followed up with a line shot to left to score Hunter and Kenta. The A’s pitcher settled down and got Ely to line out back to the mound, a strikeout and Isaac made good contact but grounded out to the mound. Bottom of the fourth and Nat’s closer Marek went the mound. He gave up a walk and a single, but the next batter grounded to third where AJ made a nice play and tagged the runner coming from second. Marek picked up two more strikeouts to end the game. Final Score of Game 1: Nats 10 Athletics 4.

After a short break, the players took the field and the Athletics came to the plate and Tommy went to the mound for his first appearance of the season. He walked two but settled down to strike out three batters. Only one run had scored. The Nats went down in order in the bottom of the first. Top of the second and Ely went to the mound with Isaac making his first appearance behind the plate. The A’s chipped across a run with a double followed by a single but Ely ended the inning with three strikeouts. Bottom of the second and Luke beat out a nice infield single to short. Hunter smashed another single, Kenta walked, Alexander walked and Luke scored. Marek walked to score Kenta. With the bases loaded, Ely picked up his third hit on the day and smashed a solid double to center to score two more runs and end the inning due to the four run limit.

After two it was 4-2 Nats. Ely continued his great work on the mound with a circus catch on a popup to his right that he dived and caught near the foul line. He struck out the next two batters to end the inning. Bottom of the third and Isaac and Tommy walked but the A’s pitcher struck out the side to end the inning. As so we went to the top of the fourth as Nats closer Marek walked to the mound looking to close out his second game of the day. Since he was under twenty pitches in game one he was eligible to pitch again. After a strikeout the A’s batter smashed a solid triple to left to complete a day of two doubles, a single and a triple. After strikeout a single to right scored the run and cut the lead to one. Nat’s fans were on the edge of their seats as Marek settled down and struck out the last batter. Final Score: Nats 4 Athletics 3.

Assistant Coach Grossman said, “Coach Mark has done a great job with these players. I really enjoyed working with them and I was glad we were able to get five pitchers some time on the mound and our catchers looked good as well. The A’s didn’t put too many balls in play and I suspect that we will see more putouts in the field as the season progresses. We are certainly off to a great start. Thanks to all the parents who helped out with preparing the fields and who helped with our warmup, coached the bases and Coach Calderon deserves special credit as it was her first game as bench coach and she did a fantastic job. I will look forward to working under Coach Mark next week – this head coaching is not as easy as it looks and I’m very happy to be his assistant.”

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