On the final day of the regular season, the New Forest Thunder Knights secured a playoff berth in their first season of action in the South West & Wales Baseball League.

Needing one win from two games against Cardiff Merlins II, the Knights made it difficult for themselves at times – dropping the first game in wet conditions. However, behind a strong pitching performance from Marcus Senior, the visitors put 16 runs on the board in game two to secure a postseason appearance.

Game one started in positive fashion as the New Forest team put up five runs to start the game. Rob Holbrook started his ‘player of the day’ performance with a double to left centre field to drive in the fifth run after hits from Mitch Sullivan and Alex Frampton.

In response, the home side ran the base paths effectively and showed their batting prowess with some timely hitting to immediately draw level at five apiece. 

The game advanced quickly, as both teams exchanged scoreless innings before Cardiff pulled clear with four runs in the fourth. The Knights failed to score again, and despite having the bases loaded in the final inning they fell to a 10-5 defeat.

Rob Holbrook was the standout player on the day (photo: Danny Vinkler)

Game two saw some standout performances as the weather eased and the New Forest bats finally arrived to secure the victory. Holbrook added three hits, driving in four runs, Andy Swann smashed a line drive into left field and Frampton added a couple of valuable knocks.

Amber Rainbird drove in her first run of the season, making solid contact to drive the ball through the infield – she also fielded excellently at Right Field. She was joined by James Knight, who picked up an RBI and was sound on the other side of the outfield.

On the mound Marcus Senior was calm throughout, striking out four Merlins batters and supporting his own pitching with some fantastic defensive plays. After throwing his trademark curve ball, Senior’s highlight play was a fantastic instinctive low grab off a line drive back towards his ankles – he then turned to throw out a runner, completing a double play in the process.

Following the victory, the Thunder Knights will have a week off before returning to Cardiff to play the Merlins in the playoff semi-final on Sunday August 27th.

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