By Dean “The Sportsman” Greenaway
Before quietly returning to the territory on Monday, Nateshon “Shadow” Thomas of East End and his Great Britain team, couldn’t capitalize on an opportunity to advance to their first World Baseball Classic in Seoul, South Korea in March 2017.
In the biggest game in Great Britain’s Baseball history—the one where a Sunday night victory over Israel would have sent them to South Korea—they couldn’t buy a hit, as five Israeli pitchers combined on a four hitter and held them scoreless for seven innings in a 9-1 triumph during the event held in Brooklyn’s Cyclones Stadium in New York.
“Our biggest challenge against Israel was hitting,” Thomas, who was on the team but didn’t play in the game said. “We made pretty good contact, we hit the ball hard, but it went to guys—that was the biggest. If the balls that we hit went differently in the field, it’s a different ball game and we would have won by a knockout.”
England lost its tournament opener to Israel 5-2 on Thursday, then blew out Pakistan, 14-0 on Friday in a game where Thomas had a pinch hit RBI double in the sixth. They edged Brazil 4-3, earning the right to meet Israel again with a trip to Seoul on the line.
“To be honest, the experience for me was like no other,” Thomas said. “Never played baseball on this level before; never experience the type of treatment you get on this level before and that was a great experience for me. Coming in, I expected a little more playing time, didn’t get it but I always feel that I can contribute more. But, the things we have been experiencing and taking in these past couple days has been wonderful and I’m looking forward to it more and more in baseball. My long team relationship (with Great Britain) is pretty much in so I’m looking forward to more and more.”
He said the most beneficial aspect was being able to play against great competition and becoming a greater baseball player in the process. He said it will also help him in figuring out things he need to work on for the future.
“The coaches have been giving me pointers that I have to work on and that was a highlight,” he said. “Playing in the European Championships and the World Baseball Classic qualifier, has been an opportunity for future growth in the sport.”
Thomas was delighted to have the support of BVI Tourist Board personnel and others at the game. He said having people that he knew and who knows his family, with signs cheering him on was a great experience. “Especially when I came up to hit, they stood up, shouted and rooted for me, the feeling was really great,” he said. “I enjoyed every moment of it. I enjoyed they company, having them there rooting the team on—they were there for me—but they rooted and cheered the team and they were into what was going on in the game. When we spoke afterwards, they asked me different things about the game and that was awesome.”