By Ross Crawford
A successful day for the Aberdeen Express resulted in the team recording their 1st road victories of the season this past Sunday. In a doubleheader, Scotland’s newest National League team secured 2 wins over the Edinburgh Giants, improving to 3-3 on the year. Coming off back-to-back losses, the squad were desperate for a win against a side they had already beaten earlier in the year. However, the Giants were in decent form themselves, and would not make things easy for the Express.
A fairly thin squad of just 11 made the 5 hour round trip to Scotland’s capital, as several Express players have struggled with injuries early on in the season. However, Aberdeen’s starting pitcher Laurence Orafiri passed his late fitness test to take the mound for the 1st time in an Express uniform. Adam Murphy would throw out the opening pitch for the Giants to get the game rolling.
Good pitching, some solid Defense, questionable base running led to a tight opening 2 innings in Game 1. Both teams struggled to accumulate base runners, as Orafiri in particular looked sharp on the mound for Aberdeen, recording 3 strikeouts by the end of the 2nd.
The Express lineup then backed up their pitcher in the top of the 3rd. Starting shortstop Marina DeAngelis earned a walk to get on base. Being aggressive on the base path, she would go onto steal 2nd and then 3rd before lead off hitter Shane Sures drove in the opening run of the game. Aberdeen’s aggressive base-running would be the theme of game 1 as Sures also stole 2nd and 3rd to get into scoring position for 1st baseman Mafe Mastrocesare, who got the run home on a ground out.
The Giants would get a run back in the bottom of the 3rd. A 2 out RBI for Tom Knox made the score 2-1 Express. Andrew Knox-Watson and Alejandro would record hits for Aberdeen in the top of the 4th but neither could be driven in. More solid Defense in the bottom of the inning kept the score the same going into the 5th with the game still finely poised as the clock ticked by on the time constrained 1st game. Given the time limits of doubleheaders, there would only be time for 2 more innings of play.
The Express would not rest on their 1 run lead. With 2 outs in the 5th, Jared Thomley reached base on a single, stole 2nd and then rounded the bases on a wild pitch and then a passed ball. Ross Crawford picked up where Thomley left off, hitting a single to left field before continuing Aberdeen’s aggressive base-running strategy. Stealing 2nd and 3rd, Crawford then stole home to stretch the lead for the Express to 4-1.
The Giants would not go down without a fight though, clawing back 2 runs in the bottom of the 5th, the Express needed a security run from Owen Duffus in the 6th on another 2 out RBI. Things got extremely tense in the final inning of the time shortened game. A couple of routine plays for the Express Defense left them 1 out short of victory before Orafiri finally started to tire after a strong outing. Hitting the the 9 hitter, Orafiri then walked the next 3 batters to make the score 5-4. With 2 outs bases loaded in a 1 run game, Orafiri drew a high fly ball from Knox. Shortstop DeAngelis ranged over from her position to secure a difficult catch and the 1st win of the day for Aberdeen.
The 2nd game of the day was a lot less nervy for the youngest Aberdeen team. Riding the high of the tight victory earlier in the day, the Express bats came alive right from the start in Game 2. Giants ace Kyle Huffey took the mound for the Giants, and the Express did not let him get into his usual groove. The 1st 5 hitters would reach base before an out was recorded, 4 of them scoring. Even when 2 outs were recorded, The Express continued the onslaught, racking up a total of 8 runs in the opening inning.
Probably the highlight for the Giants occurred on the opening pitch in the bottom of the 1st as Ashley Puren hit a home run to get 1 run back for the Edinburgh team. Express starter for the 2nd game Sures struck out the next batter before the Giants would get another run back on a 1 out RBI. Catcher Thomley would then take matters into his own hands, gunning down a base runner attempting to steal 3rd before before doing the same on a base runner headed for 2nd.
Anything Giants player Puren could do, Orafiri decided he could do also. In the top of the 2nd on a 1-2 count, Orafiri launched a missile into left-field, clearing the fence by a good 20 feet to earn the first Home Run in Aberdeen Express history, making the score 9-2 Express. A hit for Express Coach and 2nd baseman Paul Arant followed, before he was left stranded on 3rd at the end of the inning.
Sures then found his rhythm in the bottom of the inning, striking out 2 to keep the score the same going into the 3rd. The Express added another run in the top of the following inning to stretch the lead further, but the Defense really proved to be a strength for the Express in Game 2. More solid work from the infield and pitcher Sures held the Giants at 2 runs through the 3rd and 4th innings.
In the top of the 5th Orafiri put the cherry on top of the cake for the Express, crushing his 2nd Home Run of the game, adding 2 runs to the scoreboard. The Giants would get another run back in the bottom of the 5th before the time limit expired, making the final score 12-3 in a much more comfortable win for Aberdeen.
Co-Coaches for the Express Paul Arant and Jared Thomley were extremely pleased with the teams performance and attitude throughout the day. The team would also like to thank the Giants for their hospitality during the game and post-game.
The Aberdeen Express player of the day was awarded to Laurence Orafiri, for an impressive pitching debut in Game 1 before securing his 2 Home Runs in the 2nd game.
The league has an off week for the Battle of Britain Baseball tournament in Kent this Sunday, so the next Express fixture is a home game against the Edinburgh Cannons on the 2nd of June.
Following Sunday though, the Express are back on track.
Go to https://baseballscotland.com/ for all of this seasons stats, fixtures and the league table