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Lancashire Lions represent the UK in International Moles Cup Tournament in Rome, Italy
Following close relations between the Lancashire Lions Visually Impaired Sports Club and the Italian founders of the game the club were invited to represent the UK at Blind Baseball. The team travelled to Rome, Italy to compete against Italy, Cuba, Germany, France and USA in the International Moles Cup Tournament over the weekend of 5th and 6th October 2019.
The club, based in Blackley Manchester, only started practicing the game 6 weeks ago and competing for the first time against established national teams was a daunting but exciting prospect.
The first game of the tournament saw the UK take on Germany. Having been established for a number of years the Germans were big favourites. Both teams were nervous and struggled to adapt to the new environment and despite some good hitting the game ended 0-0 with Sheraz Chohan the pick of the UK batters. Junior UK player Freya Gavin showed some excellent defensive skills to ensure the Germans were unable to score.
The second UK game was against tournament favourites Cuba who had just beaten the Germans 7-0. Cuba batted first and the UK started fantastically with Freya Gavin displaying some excellent fielding and throwing to get the first Cuban batter out. The second batter then hit the ball towards the 2nd base allowing the alert UK catcher Ben Tanner to stop the ball and take out number 2. The Cubans were rattled with 2 down without scoring. This is when Cuba showed their class with tournament MVP scoring a home run with the bases loaded. The score at the end of their first 2 innings was 5-0. The UK came into bat and despite some excellent hitting by all players they were unable to reach 2nd base before the quick and agile Cubans got them out. The game ended 10-0 to Cuba however the UK were not disgraced showing some excellent attacking and defensive skills with Freya Gavin once again impressing the on looking spectators.
Despite finishing on the same points the UK finished 3rd behind Germany in the group meaning that they would play USA in the first game of day 2 for the 5th & 6th place playoff.
Day 2 saw USA and UK do battle. The USA batted first and were up against an ever improving UK team who were faultless in defence with Wasim Afridi picking up a double play and Sammie Korosi taking another out to leave the USA scoreless after 2 innings. The UK then came into bat and despite Wasim hitting well he was left stranded on 3rd base with the UK unable to score. The early morning dew was proving difficult and slowing the ball down.
The UK once again fielded brilliantly to stop the USA scoring in the third and final innings. It left the UK required to do something they had never done before and score. Star batter Wasim was up first and hit an excellent shot comfortably making it to 2nd base. Next up was Canadian born Sammie Korosi who was looking to make her mark against the USA. This she did with wonderful hit and run to make it to 2nd base with Wasim moving to 3rd. With the bases loaded in next was club favourite Abu-Bakr Ishtiaq. Abu had struggled the previous day but with fire in his belly he hit the shot of his life allowing Wasim to make it over home plate to score his and the UK's first point and clinch the game 1-0. The crowd went wild and so did the team! The UK had won its first game and finished 5th in the tournament.
The team consisted of Wasim Afridi, Freya Gavin, Sammie Korosi, Sheraz Chohan, Abu-Bakr Ishtiaq, Amjad Khan with coaches John Eaton (Manchester Baseball Club), Nathan Potts and Ben Tanner. Italian assistants Salvatore, Usman and Giovanny.
Congratulations to winners Italy, hosts AIBXC and all involved in running what was a fantastic and friendly event.
The experience will live long in the memory of those that attended and the UK can be proud of their achievements.
Manchester has found a new sport and will look to continue the development of the game locally, nationally and internationally.
The club now hold regular practice sessions and will be looking to develop the game in the UK as well as visiting Italy and Germany in 2020 to compete once again. Anyone interested in participating / supporting should contact club secretary Sheraz Chohan on 07581 351 786 / firstname.lastname@example.org
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