Baseball: Newcastle vs. Durham

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get romantic when talking about baseball and this is certainly no exception. Our story is the stuff of American box-office gold. A true underdog tale. A ragtag group of students from all over the world coming together dressed in a miss-match of sports gear to take on […]

Adam Millard
11th December 2022
Image credit: Adam Millard Victorious Lions: (Back L-R) Zachary Lau, Ben Mooney, Rory Ellison, Dominic Davies, Adam Millard, Jason Glionna, Greg Wishart, Alexander Parchment. (Front L-R) Kazuma Takeuchi, Abe Ryosuke, James Geary, Corey Dixon, Wenzhao Zhang.
It doesn’t take a lot of effort to get romantic when talking about baseball and this is certainly no exception. Our story is the stuff of American box-office gold. A true underdog tale. A ragtag group of students from all over the world coming together dressed in a miss-match of sports gear to take on a committed team in full uniform. Three hours, seven innings, poor ground conditions, icy weather, and surrounded by opposition fans. Constantly on the defensive, struggling on the offensive, close to the mark from start to finish. 

All we did was win a friendly game.

On 20th November, the newly formed Newcastle Lions university first baseball team made our way to Durham to play the Durham Wolves second team. Arriving from 11:30am for a quick warmup, first pitch flew home at 12:30pm and we were first at bat. 

Five-minutes in, after getting walked to first base with no hits, we had two people on bases and no outs. Tensions were mounting for our third batter as he stepped up to the plate. Number 13, Kazuma Takeuchi. Hailing from Japan to cause trouble at Durham. Ball. Ball. Strike. Foul. Ball. Full count. One bad pitch and he walks for loaded bases. One bad swing and he strikes out. Breath drawn, here comes the pitch. 

Swing and a hit

The ball drills through the mud between first and the mound. The diamond erupts in calls from both sides as Lucky 13 makes a mad dash for first. The Wolves scramble for the ball but Kazuma makes it to safety. 

The shouts continue though. Number 10, Alex Parchment, is making a double play. Charging from second base he runs the gauntlet from third to home. The Wolves still don’t have the ball where it needs to be. Home. One run scored. Alexander Parchment: doctor of tomorrow, MVP of today.

Three outs later and Durham is up to bat. Stellar pitching from Number 16, Zachary Lau, ensures Durham is given no quarters. The game continues evenly matched. Neither team scoring for the second, third,  or fourth innings. Top of the fifth inning and time is nearly up. This will be the last inning of the game. We step up to bat and strikeout. One. Two. Three. Swap. It wasn’t a long inning for us and we’re still on one run. We’re locked in going into the bottom of the fifth and can’t let Durham score. The next fifteen-minutes feel like fifty. 

Now I start to feel jittery. This club took more time and effort for me to make than I would care to admit. Nine months of work, endless email chains, delay after delay and it all came down to one run in the mud in Wolves territory.

This club took more time and effort for me to make than I would care to admit

Two Wolves on bases, first and third. Two outs. Full count. Zach’s final pitch of the day. Whatever happens next decides the game. Blink and you’d miss it. Pitch. Swing. Slap. Nothing beats the sound of a baseball driving into the Catcher’s glove. Swing and a miss, a strikeout for the Wolves, a victory for the lions. 

There was no eruptive celebration. More a general atmosphere of miffed disbelief. I don’t think either side expected that result, though it was a nice surprise gift on my birthday after all. My last words to the team that day were typically Presidential: “Go home proud, lads. Eat a little, drink a lot, and I’ll see you at training tomorrow.” There ain’t no rest for the wicked after all. Here’s to the next game, you glorious Lions.

Adam Millard

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