The Newton Brewers went down fighting as they were defeated 33-26 in their 2018 season opener with the Bristol Bats.
It was a grey and somewhat cold day as the Brewers prepared to play their first game at their new home, Stover Field. Club treasurer Ian Durrant had the honour of laying down home plate on the new ground under the watchful eye of umpire John Anderson. This was in recognition of all the work that Ian had undertaken in securing and getting the field ready for the Brewers' Opening Day.
Max Ellis took the ball as the Brewers entered the field just before noon to begin what would be an exciting contest.
The Bats took a 3 run lead in the first, scoring off a double by Tamosiunas and a double by Frankcom. However, the first inning also saw Max Ellis secure his first K of the campaign, and comfortable catches for Craig Newbery-Jones in left field and Julio Perez at shortstop demonstrated the Brewers confidence in defence. With doubles from both right fielder Sergio Suarez and shortstop Julio Perez, a ground single from center fielder John Hendry, and some aggressive stealing on the base paths, the bottom of the first saw the Brewers tie the game.
The top of the second saw a further 4 runs batted in by the visitors including their first home run of the afternoon, a long, deep Frankcom shot to center field. After a lineout into the glove of first baseman Charlie Capener, a deep catch by John Hendry, and a Julio Perez catch in foul territory, the sides switched. But the Brewers were unable to reply. Three quick outs saw the Bats secure a 7-3 lead going into the top of the third.
Neither side yielded runs in the third inning, but the top of the fourth saw the Bats storm to a 13-3 lead from 11 at bats. The first of three 6-run innings for the Bats that afternoon did not deter the Brewers, and the bottom of the fourth saw them reply with style. Third Baseman Ian Durrant scored the home side's first home run of the campaign and the first at their new field, with a powerful hit beyond the center field fence. Catcher Matt Vernel was walked during the next at bat and managed to steal his way to third, before a Max Ellis single brought him home.
The top of the fifth saw the Brewers make their first change of the afternoon, with James Brown coming in at catcher in place of first baseman, Charlie Capener. This saw Matt Vernell take up Capener's spot at first. The Bats were quickly dispatched following a pop fly caught by Matt Vernell, an easy ground out to Max Ellis, and flyball to center caught by John Hendry. This scoreless half-inning by the Bats allowed the Brewers to close the gap. Runs scored by James Brown, Sergio Suarez, Julio Perez, John Hendry, and Matt Vernel saw the Brewers close the gap to 3 runs, the score totalling 13-10. The Brewers were chasing!
The Bats sought to drive ahead in the sixth; scoring 5 runs, including a long home run by Tamosiunas. But the Brewers responded in spectacular fashion to ensure that the game went the full 9. Scoring 7 runs and displaying aggression on the base paths, the Brewers fought to retake control of the game. The big inning was thanks to singles by Ian Durrant, Max Ellis, Craig Newbery-Jones, and Gethin Jones, and a walk by Matt Vernel. The inning also saw some memorable plays, with Matt Vernell displaying immense bravery by stealing home and second baseman Gethin Jones batting in his brother Craig, allowing him to cross home plate for the first time in a Brewers jersey. The sixth also saw Jake Worton enter the fray at right field in place of Sergio Suarez.
There was one run in it going into the seventh, with the Bats just holding the edge at 18-17. Following a productive half-inning the Bats had extended their lead by 3. However, Matt Vernel and Max Ellis managed to run in two and keep the lead short at 21-19.
But the eight and ninth saw the Brewers concede 12, including a hatrick of home runs in the ninth (1R, 2R, and a 3R HR). Yet, the home side fought until the bitter end running in 3 in the eight and 4 in the ninth, leaving the final score at 33-26.
The Brewers saw the ball well today, racking up 22 hits in the game. Ellis, Durrant, Newbery-Jones, Suarez, Worton, Hendry, and Brown all managed multiple hits with Ellis leading at the plate, going 5-for-6. John Hendry led Newton Brewers with four of the Brewers 20 stolen bases.
Max Ellis got the start for the Newton Brewers, allowing 19 hits and 21 runs over six and a third innings, while striking out two. Julio Perez threw two and two-thirds innings in relief.
Julio Perez, Brewers Manager, thanked Bristol for what was an exciting, hard-contested game of baseball and congratulated the Brewers on all their hard work in the off-season.
The Brewers Player of the Game went to starting pitcher Max Ellis for throwing in excess of 150 pitches over six and a third innings and for tallying 5 hits in 6 plate appearances. His hitting record saw him single in the fourth, fifth, sixth, eighth, and ninth innings.
In a game that included some spectacular plays by the Brewers, manager Julio Perez found it difficult to single out one play to be awarded The Brewers Play of the Game. Instead, he commended third baseman Ian Durrant for hitting the Brewers' first home run at their new field and catcher Matt Vernel for his immense bravery in stealing home.
The Newton Brewers will be in action again on the 15 May 2018 visiting the Weston Jets at Hutton Moor Leisure Centre. First Pitch is scheduled for Noon.
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