This weekend it was officially the last weekend of the regular season in the Belgian Division 1. Except for a few make up games, all official regular season games are played. So it is time to evaluate the season.
Shortly before the season, the Royal Greys decided to step back.
[EDIT] Unlike several European Countries, a new scoring and play-by-play system, the WBSC is using, has not been implemented yet for a variety of reasons. As a result it is not possible to follow games live through play-by-play. It is also not possible to watch box scores. The only way to see the course of a game is to upload PDF files of score cards through the website of the KBBSF.
Anyhow, it was a season in which the regular contenders mostly lived up to the expectations but there were some surprises.
In group A, the Hoboken Pioneers moved into first place from day one and, despite two losses (vs the Brussels Kangaroos and the Mortsel Stars), the team remained firmly in the top spot of the standings.
A team of which several experts said it would be a contender, is the Brussels Kangaroos. The team earned a promotion to the tweede klasse (second divsion) in 2019. The team lived up to the expectations of the experts which is very remarkable for a team that was in the derde klasse (third division) in 2019. The Kangaroos managed to deal losses to each of the two big names, Hoboken Pioneers and Deurne Spartans. The Kangaroos are currently in second place and have clinched a spot in the Division 1 Gold (playoffs) but the Deurne Spartans still have one more game to play one make up game vs the Kangaroos.
Normally, the Deurne Spartans would be a force to be reckoned with, but without their two players from Venezuela, the team is just not good enough be a contender for first place in group A.
The biggest surprise of them all was that the Namur Angels, winless until the last weekend, managed to win a game against Deurne in the final week of round one. The Namur Angels are destined to play in the relegation round (Division 1 Silver), just like the Mortsel Stars, who started to play better in the past few weeks and managed to deal some losses to the top three teams.
In group B, the Brasschaat Braves moved into first place on day one and never looked back. Only Mont-Saint-Guibert dealt them a loss. In the past seasons, the Braves have been building a team with mainly homegrown players. And it looks like that this season they are reaping the fruits. With the addition of two foreign players, both Americans, the club is a force to be reckoned with this season.
The other contender, the Borgerhout Squirrels, play the second fiddle. Sure the team is strong, but it could not keep pace in the direct confrontations against the Braves. In the two games of the final weekend, they fell to the Braves 4-6 and 5-13.
One of the teams that come from the second division, Mont-Saint-Guibert Phoenix, played some nice baseball with sound fundamentals and with aggressive base running, sacrificing batters when needed and not relying on the long ball too much. Attractive baseball that is fun to watch. As a result, the team finished in third place, just out of reach of the Antwerp Eagles, who still have to make up three games. But even if the Eagles win all three, Phoenix will remain out of reach, so it remains to be seen if these three games will be played.
The Division 1 Gold group (playoffs) will contain the following teams: Brasschaat Braves, Borgerhout Squirrels, Mont-Saint-Guibert Phoenix, Hoboken Pioneers, Brussels Kangaroos, and the Deurne Spartans.
The relegation group (Division 1 Silver) will contain the Namur Angels, Mortsel Stars, Antwerp Eagles, Merchtem Cats, and Gent Knights. Relegation group is not really the right choice of words as no team will relegate after this season because of the withdrawal of the Royal Greys. The winner of the Division 2 will earn a promotion to Division 1 at the end of this season. Right now, the Zottegem Bebops have the best papers but it is a tight race with the Sunville Tigers, from Zonhoven, in second place. And with the Division 2 season running until October 3rd, still anything is possible.