Chichester Falcons snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in an intense encounter with Solent Sluggers on Sunday.
Hitting first, Chichester started brightly by putting up five runs and batting right through the order. Doubles from David Piesse and James Wheeler got the bats going, but it quickly became clear that the strong easterly wind was going to be a factor in the game as both pitchers had to work hard to get the ball over the plate, and any hit flyballs were swept across to right field.
Wheeler struggled to find his form pitching as his backhand looping curveballs were gusted away from the strike zone, allowing costly walks for the Sluggers who managed to put up eight runs to take an early lead. Nevertheless the Falcons hit right back in the second with eleven runs, including homers from Ally Warr, Josh Bristow and Piesse and the first of two triples from David Morris.
Not to be outdone, Sluggers took advantage of some hesitant fielding and hit a further eight runs - this was enough to bring a pitching change to put Piesse on the rubber and Wheeler back to his comfort zone in centre field. Piesse's more direct pitches cut through the gales easier and, despite a three-up-three-down third inning for the Falcons, the tables started to turn.
Right on cue, Jana Langley clubbed a hit down the third base line to start a rally which saw Oliver Howley and Molly Rayner also score, but the Falcons were still two runs behind. A remarkable diving catch from Howley at third base and a running backhand grab from Morris kept the left infield tidy as Wheeler plucked out flyballs to centre as the Falcons chipped away.
By the sixth inning, with one remaining, Chichester finally got the score level thanks to two-out clutch hits from Amy Morris and Liz Boardman, both to centre field, as pandemonium broke out in the Falcons dugout. Morris tripled again and Mike Crispin steered the ball past the infield to bring the score to 31-26 in the last inning, but with the Sluggers - as home team - still to bat.
Piesse composed himself and struck out his first hitter, but the Sluggers pitcher, having hit well all day, smashed himself onto second base to later score on a one-out walk. A comebacker was gratefully underarmed to first base for the second out, and shortly after Piesse put the game to bed with another strikeout, allowing the Falcons to breathe a huge sigh of relief and taking the game at 31-27.