RICHMOND, LONDON -
Dragons travelled to the south coast knowing that a sweep against local AA South Pool A rivals Mustangs II in the July 22nd double header could put them in to the final playoff spot in the standings with only three weeks left of the regular season.
The away side started well as initial control problems by home ace Simbajon allowed Guyett, Kim and Ellis to draw walks in the first frame, leading to two runs. Dragons' ace Per Nilsson-Eklöf started strongly, holding the home side scoreless in the first four innings, backed up by solid defense, as the Dragons tacked on another four runs. The Mustangs began to fight back in the 4th, scoring four runs on line drives by Simbajon and third baseman Finney as eight Mustangs batted in the frame. After a scoreless reply by the Dragons, the Mustangs then tied the game in the 5th with two more doubles, again by Simbajon and by Taylor.
With Simbajon running on fumes, the Dragons took advantage of a defensive mis-cue by the home side in the top of the last inning by taking the lead through runs scored by catcher Joby Thomas and Nilsson-Eklöf.
Returning veteran Brad Harris came in to close out the game, but despite some brilliant pitches he loaded the bases on three walks, setting the plate for Taylor, who with his second double of the game - and only the fifth hit by the home side all game - cleared the bases for a walk-off 9-8 victory.
After 15 mins of re-focusing, the Dragons began game two determined to leave the coast with a win. With home ace Wrigley missing on the day, the Mustangs turned to their third pitcher Finney. Patient batting by the Dragons in the first frame was enough to put the game out of reach as 15 Dragons came up to bat, drawing seven walks and scoring ten runs.
Harris, sharp after the tough blown save in game 1, mixed fastballs and breaking balls, limiting the home side to three hits and the Dragons defense continued their strong performance. Woo Kim relieved in the fifth inning, going 1-2-3 with two K's and a ground out on 11 pitches to close out the game in a non-save situation. Simbajon scored the Mustangs only run in a shortened mercy-rule game, but the Dragons left Southampton rueing what could have been.
Although a post-season spot is still a possibility, the Dragons now have to rely on other teams helping them out while aiming to win out the season, aiming for an 8-11 record in what is clearly the tougher of the two pools in AA South.
The Mavericks (14-0) and the Piranhas (12-1) have already sown up post-season places and Bisons (6-4) are also more or less certain while Mustangs II (6-8), Pirates (5-7) and Dragons (4-11) fight for the final spot.
Dragons travel to Croydon to face the Tigers in the last double header of the season this coming Sunday, before single games against Sidewinders and Brentwood close out the season.