A walk off home run put the cherry on top of a great managerial debut for Sam Williams, as the New Forest Knights won both of their games on British Baseball opening day.

On a cloudy afternoon at Ballard School, the Knights and the Bristol Brunels slugged out two high scoring affairs. The home side came out winners by one run in both games, thanks to some excellent pitching from Chris Stickland and Rhi McMah and some timely hitting by Williams.

Game one saw Eddie Donald on the mound to start his first game in the New Forest green. He picked up two strikeouts and navigated the Knights through two innings before being relieved by Stickland. Making his first ever appearance in British Baseball, Stickland pitched excellently, forcing the Brunels to put the ball in play and the home side to make some excellent defensive plays.

Williams drove in two runs in the third after Shaun Barrett was hit by a pitch and the Brunels pitcher walked Kieran Jewell and Ben Coxhill. Donald also picked up an infield hit during the game, before Stickland closed proceedings out on the mound for a 13-12 win.

Lewis Kelly scores for the Knights

Before the huge walk off blast that sealed an 18-17 win in game two, the New Forest side had battled hard to stay in the game. Leigh Froud made his pitching debut, doing well to force contact and go toe to toe with Alex Lane-Kieltyka for Bristol.

Lane-Kieltyka’s lead off home run set the tone for a high scoring affair, in which Lewis Kelly and Al Galpin got their first hits for the Knights. Veteran third baseman Marcus Senior was his reliable self, picking up two hits and driving in four runs. Rhi McMah added two further hits, but it was her pitching that gained the plaudits on the day. Coming into the game with the scores close, the Aussie limited the Brunels scoring despite a number of errors in the field.

Entering the final half inning, the Knights were five runs behind. The first three hitters walked, before Senior and Kelly drove in three runs. That left two on base, with Williams pinch hitting for Andy Bashforth. The New Forest Manager didn’t wait around, taking the first pitch he saw deep over the outfield fence, driving in three runs and putting the Knights at 2-0 after the first weekend of British Baseball in 2024.

A trip to Cornwall and the 2-0 Claycutters awaits the Knights next week, ahead of a local derby against the Bournemouth Bears.


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