The London Mets played the London Capitals in a 3 game series to decide the 2023 national champions of British Baseball.
This followed the semi-finals the previous week where the 1-seed Mets defeated the 4-seed Sheffield Bruins, and the 3-seed Capitals beat the 2-seed Essex Arrows.
Mets vs Capitals in the national championship has become somewhat of a mainstay in British Baseball, as the two teams met in the final series of the season for the 4th consecutive year.
Game 1 - August 26
The series began on a stormy day at Farnham Park. Dark clouds loomed in the distance as the wind swirled in Farhnam’s notorious microclimate. A moderate crowd turned out in-person, complementing the return of the series being live streamed on BSUK-TV.
The Capitals threw their ace, Masa Hashiguchi. Hashiguchi has been one of the NBL’s most durable pitchers since joining the Capitals in 2021. However his success in the league hasn’t always translated to success against the Mets offense. In Hashiguchi’s 9 previous starts against the Mets from 2021 - 2023, he had 3 wins to 6 losses and an ERA of 6.26.
Hashiguchi poised to deliver a changeup.
The Mets offense came out swinging in the bottom of the 1st inning, sparked by a leadoff double by Rory Chandler. The first five batters reached base, generating 2-run lead with the bases loaded and no outs. The game looked like it could get out of hand quickly similar to the 2021 national championship where the Mets put up 5 runs on Hashiguchi in the 1st inning spurring an 8-5 victory. But Hashiguchi found a rhythm and was able to limit the damage there.
Chandler slides in safely to second with a leadoff double down the left-field line.
The Mets starter, Lucas Friss threw well early but the Capitals bats responded in the 3rd and again the 5th with two 2-run innings, led by Leo Cedano’s bat (3H, 3RBI).
The Mets had chances but left runners on base on multiple occasions, including a game-ending double play to give the Capitals a 1-0 series lead. Hashiguchi notched the win: 7IP, 9H, 3R, 5K.
Game 2 - August 27
The Mets looked to bounce back in game 2. As the away team they set the tone in the top of the first. Chandler and Parker started the game off with singles to set the table for clean-up hitter Rich Minford drive in both runs with a triple to left-center.
The Mets were unrelenting on offense throughout the game, tracking on six runs in the 7th inning with singles from Fiorentino and Murphy and RBIs from Sproule, Parker, and Dix.
Ryan McLaughlin took the mound for the Mets and was dominant from the first pitch to the last, delivering a standout performance throughout the game. His pitching performance earned him the win, while the Capitals' Villanueva took the loss. McLaughlin's pitching was complemented by an ironclad Mets defense.
McLaughlin returns to the dugout after another scoreless inning.
McLaughlin finished his rookie campaign with the Mets with a league-leading 1.20 ERA on the season and an impressive line in his complete game shutout in game two of the finals: 7IP, 2H, 1BB, 3K.
The series was tied at 1 and the Mets looked to keep the reclaimed series momentum.
The Mets handed the ball to captain, Rich Minford. Minford is no stranger to big championship moments on the mound and is unbeaten in the playoffs over his six year stint in the NBL.
The Mets battery were on the same page all game long (Minford - P, Vinall - C).
The Mets once again struck hard in the first, with 3 runs sparked by knocks from Chandler, Parker, and Banagale in quick succession.
Mike Fiorentino drove in a key insurance run in the 5th, capping off a strong rookie season with the Mets. His .452 batting average earned him the nickname ‘Mikey Barrels.’
A battered and bloodied Mikey Barrels steps up to the plate to deliver one more time.
The Mets infield defense was exemplary, including a phenomenal diving catch by Jamie Dix at 3B and solid play up the middle from Jar Parker and Brendan Power.
Minford went the distance and with a 5-0 lead in the bottom of the 7th, struck out Pete Wiedmann with a hard slider to end the game and crown the Mets once again as National Champions. Final line: 7IP, 4H, 4BB, 8K. Parker was named series MVP for his strong work at SS and offensive contributions in the series.
The Dynasty Continues
The Mets continue to make history with their 7th consecutive national championship at the highest level of British baseball, capping off another fantastic season. The team looks forward to 2024 with a return to the CEB Federation Cup and a chance to make it 8.
Top Row: Cook, Turtle, McLaughlin, del Zoppo, Minford, Murphy, Barrett, Fiorentino, Chandler, Sproule, Edmonds.
Bottom Row: Power, Dean, Lawson, Vinall, Parker, Banagale, Dix, Baxter.
Photo Credit: Jody Davies Photography