After much uncertainty and nine long months, BSLN returned for its 4th season. The boys of summer were ready to go so let’s get right to the action.
Medina came out strong in the first game of BSL Nights with a 10-3 win over Jerusalem. Medina opened the game with a 3-run homerun from Suleman Mann in the first inning. Jerusalem would tie the game in the next inning from the top of the order. With the bases loaded in the next inning, Ahmed Ammad stepped up to the plate and hit a grand slam. Medina’s pitching and defense took over from there and held Jerusalem to 4 scoreless innings. With 3 more runs in the bottom of the 5th, Medina put the game away to take the first win of the season.
Final Score: Jerusalem 3 vs Medina 10
The second game saw Medina come out with a 7 run first inning, with hits from the top of the order. Jerusalem would come back at the bottom of the inning with 3 of their own. But Medina, kept the pressure up and put another 4 on the board with the bottom of the order coming to life. Abdul Rahim Manjra, an early candidate for Rookie of the Year had a solid debut spraying the field with hits for Jerusalem and kept them in the game with another 3-run inning. In the 4th inning, Jerusalem put the pressure on with a blast from Paygham Whahedi. With the walks piling on, Medina made a pitching change and Zahid Merchant would step on the mound to calm the nerves. Medina added 3 more to put the game away and take the Wednesday night sweep to start the season 2-0. Shoaib Rangrez another rookie; was a stud in the infield, playing multiple positions and had 2 key hits to secure the win for Medina.
Final Score: Medina 17 Jerusalem 10
Lahore vs Istanbul kicked off the inaugural game for BSLN at Birchwood Park, home to BSL Sundays. Rookie GM Taqi Ahmed went up against vet GM Aftab Sheikh but the start of the game had you wondering who was the more expierenced one as Istanbul came out ready to play, while Lahore couldn't get much going until the last 2 innings. The game started out as a base hitting spectacle for Istanbul, as they put all 12 of their runs in the 1st 4 innings while only getting 2 XBH which included a smashing BW1 homerun by GM Taqi Ahmed. Defensively, playing without starting pitcher Riyad Ramjaun, Istanbul called up sub extraordinaire Miqdad Jaffer who held most of Lahore's batters in getting them to go .361 as a team against him with no one going yard.
Lahore waited till the 5th inning, down 12-0, to make some noise as they put up 6 runs courtesy of hits from Ali Chaudhry, Omar Khattab & Fuzail Thakur. But it was too little too late as this game was already out of reach by then. Lahore knows their bats are too good for this kind of performance and chalk this one up to jitters and rust. On the flip side, Istanbul looked great even though they were missing starting pitcher Riyad & starting LF Zain Khilji. Look for this squad to base hit teams to death as they have a balanced squad along w/ good defense (0 errors 1st game of the season).
Final Score: Lahore 7 Istanbul 12
Cordoba came out on the field right on the nick of time, with the captain coming in right at game time. They were under the impression that it would be a washout because of the rain. The match started and everyone got their bats swinging but no one seemed to be connecting anything. The team was still a little rusty as this was the first matchup of the season. Cordoba has a lot of promise and very good fielding, on paper, but didn’t seem to show it on the field for the first game at least. Hassan Chaudry did a good job of keeping the moral up for the team while the captain was trying to set the field for every play. Kudos goes to the pitcher, Abbas Allidina for some excellent pitching on the field who tried to keep the run count down as much as possible, but Istanbul still managed to stomp the cobras in the end.
Istanbul came back swinging, as they were fresh off the last game. They were still pumped up from their last game win against Lahore and they took out all their anger on Cordoba. They started out with their big hitters ringing the ball out in the bushes with Usman Ali and Ismail Kara going yard. This gave them a comfortable position in the match and put Cordoba in a tight spot. Their fielding was on point as well for this match, it could be because of their last game which gave them a better idea of playing conditions in the field. The whole Istanbul team went to town against the cobras with every player on the team getting runs under their belt.
Cordoba tried to retaliate with their hitting which didn’t quite go so well, but their first Baseman Salim Jaichi got the team moral up by hitting a home run in the 3rd inning give them some hope. There was some very good fielding from Usama as the teams all star SS and the outfield was also on par with not many errors during the match, but that was still not enough for them to score a win. Hassan Chaudry, Bilal javed, Usama, Ahmed Butt and Salim Jaichi were the ones who managed to keep the team on the scoreboard with runs. The rest of the bats weren’t really working for them this game.
Its still the beginning of the season with a lot of games to play ahead and I am sure Cordoba will recover from their loss and come out stronger in their matches ahead.
Final Score: Istanbul 16 Cordoba 6
Cordoba managed to keep up their moral for the second game by starting off the next match with Lahore. They capitalized on their last game and kept going into this game. They started out swinging their bats and got 5 runs in the first 4 inning while Lahore was still trying to figure out their weak spots. Lahore couldn’t catch the cobras for the first 4 innings as they were trailing by 0 runs to 5 in their first 4 innings of the match. The credit there goes to the experienced pitching from Salim Jaichi on Team Cobra and the Usama the SS who made some good plays in the infield. The defense overall was also on par for Cordoba during the whole match. I am sure the team will come out stomping for their next game against another tough team, we will have to wait and see what happens as the titians clash in their next match against Cairo and Medina. Cordoba will be itching to settle some old scores against these teams but will have to wait and see how things turn out.
Lahore got some time to recover from their previous game and came back swinging after the 4th inning, their bats just took off and they turned the whole match around by getting 6 runs in the 6th inning, leaving the cobras chasing their own tails. Amazing home runs from Fuzail and Shane. Some of the newcomers on the team like M. Kazi also got themselves on the scoreboard by getting 3 runs and showing some impressing outfield work during fielding. Both teams over all played quite well and the results were close, in the end the HRs from Lahore’s heavy hitters got them the Win. Way to Go Lahore, hope they can keep this up for the rest of the season as its just the beginning and things will keep getting tougher as we progress throughout the season.
Final Score: Cordoba 8 Lahore 9
In the first game at Valleys (the original BSLN home), the defending champs Damascus were looking to get their repeat campaign off to a strong start. Captain Safwan Khan has a new look to his squad this season bringing in last season’s HR runner up in Omer Chaudhry giving Damascus the top two HR hitter from last season. The power doesn’t stop there as highly regarded newcomer Abbasali Kermalli makes Damascus look like a strong contender to repeat.
Cairo is lead by rookie GM Khizer Channa. Though he may be a new GM, he also had a solid draft, filling his roster with high character players. Cairo’s lineup is deep and only one player in Yusuf Ingar who is new to BSLN. Unfortunately for GM Khizer his keeper Umair Wasim had to miss the season opener on short notice leaving the Cairo GM spending the majority of his Thursday afternoon watching weather reports for rain and working the phones to find a suitable replacement. Thankfully, he was able to bring in a replacement only to then find out a few stragglers would cause Cairo to start the game with just 3 outfielders.
Damascus was not able to take advantage of the extra green in the outfield as they batted first but the solid outfield play of the Channa brothers and veteran Shamil Khadaroo held Damascus to no score in the 1st. The game was broken open in the bottom of the 2nd when Cairo, with some well placed base hits from the bottom of their lineup, brought up Yousaf “Chu” Chaudhry with the bases loaded. He blasted a grand slam over the left field fence for his 1st HR of the season. Damascus battled back scoring 2 runs on a double by keeper Awais Malik, but Cairo’s defense backed by quality pitching from Hamza Waheed were able to limit the damage.
Cairo kept the pressure up on offense when with a man on, sleeper pick Hasan “desert” Afzal smacked a 2-run shot over the fence. There’s a lot of buzz that this could be his break out season and this was certainly a good start. Damascus was not able to string together enough hits to mount a comeback with their team only able to bat twice through the order. The game ended with Cairo winning 12-3.
While GM Safwan Khan will be disappointed with the result, it can be chalked up to a lot of off-season rust in the first game back as well as integrating some newcomers onto his Damascus squad. Abbasali Kermalli looks like a dangerous hitter going 2/2 with sharply hit balls, while playing excellent defense at 3rd base. New pitcher Hussain Allidina looks like he will hold down the mound and as the chemistry builds this Damascus team will be a force.
For Cairo, GM Khizer has to be ecstatic with the performance of his defense in their first game. Pitcher Hamza Waheed looks like he’s in mid season form already, while newcomer Yusuf Ingar had a smashing debut hitting 2 XBH’s.
Final Score: Demascus 3 Cairo 12
Coming off a strong win over defending champs Damascus, Cairo was looking to continue its winning ways against expansion team Baghdad lead by veteran GM Hamid Malik. With a solid mix of veterans and newcomers Baghdad looks to be a dangerous squad this season.
Cairo got off to a strong start putting up 4 in the top of the 1st. Baghdad answered back with 4 of their own. That was as close as Baghdad would get in this one as Cairo went on a hitting frenzy. They proceeded to score the next 12 runs straight over the next three innings. GM Khizer Channa belted 2 homers out of the lead off spot, while superstar Yousaf “Chu” Chaudhry added another. But the story of the day continues to be Hasan “Desert” Afzal who belted his 2nd homer in 2 games, tying his season total for last season. The irony is after Cairo was maxed out of HR they began to hit even better, with one base hit after another. Kudos to Baghdad for hanging in on defense but there was no stopping Cairo on this day. Everyone on the team had at least 2 hits.
For Baghdad, Nirvaan Latif was dangerous all day belting another HR to take the season lead while also hitting one off the top of the fence which turned out to be a loud single. Noor Zia had a smashing debut going 3/3 with 2 RBI and playing great defense at SS. Baghdad had one more game on this day and would look forward to bouncing back from this defeat. They simply ran into a very hot hitting team and sometimes there’s nothing you can do about that.
Final Score: Cairo 30 Baghdad 15
On this wet and muggy day, we are going to pick this game up from the top of the last inning, since that's when the drama starts.
Baghdad, down by three, going up to bat, with their heavy hitters coming to the plate. The boys were able to small ball their way to scoring two runs, thanks to Hamid, and Fahad's batting. Then, with their 3, 4, 5 hitters coming up (the most dangerous middle lineup in our league?), Baghdad was well positioned to not only tie it, but go ahead by a few runs...EXCITING! As Noor Zia, and Tash S were able to get on base and drive home a couple runs, Baghdad now has the tying run on third, and the go ahead run at second, with the deadly Nirvaan Latif coming up to the plate. You could see Nirvy salivating for this opportunity, and we could see he was ready to deliver a massive hit for his team, just by reading his eyes. This is where things start getting interesting. So at this point, you could see the fear in the Damascus fielders...after all, Nirvy had already had two dingers in this game. As Nirvy steps to the plate, suddenly impromptu chatter erupts from Damascus' infield to their outfield. "Give Nirvy a free base!" one player yells. It sounded as if Damascus called a timeout to strategize what to do here. Does BSL Nights even have timeouts the fans were thinking? As first base was free, and the tying and go ahead runs were in scoring position, Damascus decided not to pitch to Nirvy. Instead, allowing him to get to first, they took their chances against the next batter up.
Was this unbrotherly or not? Did winning the game matter more than allowing for a brother to hit? Where does in game strategy say about walking batters intentionally? All valid questions, to which this writer does not have the answers to. In the end, both sides have legitimate claims to whether or not Nirvy should have been walked. Some called it a smart move on Damascus' part, while others claim that we should always let brothers hit. The GMs in this league have a tough job, in that, they have to do what's best for their team but also set a precedent for high brotherhood standards for the rest of the league. The Damascus GM obliged no comment after the game, but said they walked Nirvy out of respect and fear. Meanwhile, Hamid tipped his cap to the DMC team, stating that it was a smart move, and that Nirvy needs to be protected.
In the end, the thrilling victory went to the home team, Damascus, and Baghdad did a very good job of bouncing back to be in a position to almost win it. This team looks really good, and once their players get more experience, Baghdad should see the wins pile up. Shout out to Noor Zia, and Tash S. for hitting their first BSL Nights home runs, we expect to see more of that. Nirvy was awesome, with two dingers and a stellar pitching performance. On the DMC side, Abbasali Kermalli smacked his first BSL Nights homer, and congrats to him. Hussein Allidina picked up his first ever BSL Nights win...the guys gave him the game ball and rumour has it Hussein slept with it that same night. Shout out to Awais Malik, Omer "Shuffle Master" Chaudhry and Ali Nazir for going perfect in the game. It was an awesome game to be a part of, whether you were playing or just watching. The next time these two teams meet up, it will be an epic rematch that this writer can't wait to watch. Congrats to both teams, well played.
Final Score: Baghdad 13 Demascus 14