Tuesday March 31st 2020

FALCONS REIGN ON KINGS PARADE, CROWNED AAA CHAMPS



After amodest toast to their charmed ascendancy through the League, the Hertsfirst-team quickly rested and refocused for a Sunday morning clash with theirAAA Oxford rivals.  The Falcons arrivedat Croydon’s Diamond One a full hour-and-a-half before their opponents and the umpiringcrew, fueled only by their sheer determination to finish what they’d begun.

 

The weatherhad not improved despite Club President Aspi Dimitrov’s claim that this was “abetter rain.”  The mist was unrelentingand left the field water-logged and – according to BBF officials –unplayable.  Nevertheless, the Falconsstretched and warmed their arms no less than three times before the mainstagewas relocated to the better-maintained second field, and the game commenced 90minutes behind schedule.

 

Withseveral runner-up games already cancelled due to weather, Herts was eager toget proceedings underway and avoid an unnecessary postponement.  They were present, they were warmed and theywere fired up.  The growing crowd wasequally impatient; the excitement of an inevitable climax hung in the air.

 

Flashbackto July 6 2008: Oxford Kings travel to a rain-soaked Grovehill for a crucialcross-division matchup. Capitalizing as the away team, Oxford jumps out to a four-run lead in thetop of the 1st (unbelievably, in both games of this double-header).

 

It was nosurprise then that Kings Manager Santo Bains chose to again be the away teamwhen he won the coin toss prior to Sunday’s final… a gamble that Oxford would soon regret.

 

Darrin “TheColonel” Ward took the mound seeking revenge – having suffered his only loss ofthe season to Oxfordtwo months prior – and immediately shut down the Kings’ impressiveoffense.  Leadoff batter Masaharu Egawa struckout looking before Jorge Pinto Machado reached first on a hard-hit grounder tothe right side.  Despite the admonitionsof first baseman Marty Cullen, Machado attempted to steal on the next pitch andwas cut down easily by Catcher Jason Greenberg’s cannon.  That play brought Oxford’s running game to a screeching halt;it was their only attempt at a stolen base, and Greenberg was 3-3 in throwdowns over the weekend.  Anotherstrikeout ended the inning, and the Falcons had neutralized Bains’ plans for adominant top-of-the-first.

 

With noscore and two outs in the bottom of the 2nd, and Kimiyoshi Saionjion third base, rightfielder Aspi Dimitrov connected on a 1-and-2 count for aline drive up the middle, bringing home the first run of the game.  Herts had taken a lead they would neverrelinquish.  In the top of the 3rdwith the bases loaded and one out, Ward’s legendary changeup forced Oxford intoan infield fly and a foul-pop to catcher Greenberg ending the threat.

 

The windbeneath their wings, the Falcons quickly tacked on three more runs in thebottom of the inning on two hits and two Kings’ errors.  Despite a string of four hits by Oxfordscoring two runs in the fourth (including a to-the-fence double from Machado),the Falcons brought their lead to 6-2 with precision defense, a triple fromClub President Dimitrov and timely strikeouts from the crafty Ward.  Machado wasn’t finished; he crushed a hangingbreaking ball over the right field wall for the game’s final run (the Kings’third)… but no amount of muscle could combat Herts dogged determination.  Outfielder and lightening-bolt Jim Hyde wasejected in the bottom-of-the-6th for attempting to score on a groundball to the left side.  Although photoevidence shows him under the tag, the umpire punched him out and Hyde,incensed, pounded his helmet into the batters circle.  It was that kind of never-die grit that keptHerts on top despite the game’s mounting pressure.

 

With theFalcons leading 6-3 in the top of the seventh, a strikeout, a fly-out and apop-out brought the AAA season to an end. The natural finalists – first in their respective League brackets – haddone battle in the inclement English weather, in front of the BBF’s top umpiresand officials and to the delight of their many supporting fans.  The Herts Falcons were crowned National Champions,taking the trophy from their scrappy opponents in what proved the tightest,hardest-fought contest of the 2008 Final 4. It was a showdown for the annals, and will be hotly remembered in theseason to come when Herts and Oxfordnext face-off on the diamond.

 

2008 saw animprobable rise to the top for the Herts Baseball Club.  Weathering demotion, re-promotion and nowcoronation, the Falcons’ successes have made for a glory season of resurgenceand optimism.  They garnered the bestwin-loss record in the AAA, bested every opponent they faced, and allowed thefewest runs of any team in the League.  AsBBF President Rob Rance presented the championship trophy, he offeredencouraging words of support to Hertfordshire’s ballclub, saying “Herts is agreat programme – a class act – the kind of Club that the BBF needs to helpthis country develop the game. Congratulations to the Falcons on a fine season.”




BOX SCORE

Oxford Kings at Herts Falcons
Score By Innings 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 R H E
Oxford Kings 0 0 0 2 0 1 0 3 11 2
Herts Falcons 0 1 3 2 0 0 0 6 9 5

Herts Falcons 6, Oxford Kings 3
Herts Falcons Oxford Kings
  ab r h bi   ab r h bi
Jim Hyde lf 2 2 1 0 Player 1 p 4 0 1 0
(t7) Greg Bochan rf 0 0 0 0 Player 2 c 5 1 3 3
Andy Cornish 3b 4 1 1 0 Player 3 1b 4 0 0 0
Jason Greenberg c 4 1 1 1 Player 4 2b 3 0 1 0
Kimiyoshi Saionji 2b 2 1 1 2 Player 5 3b 3 0 1 0
Dan Kerry cf 3 0 1 0 Player 6 ss 4 0 1 0
Marty Cullen 1b 3 0 0 0 Player 7 lf 4 0 1 0
Aspi Dimitrov rf-lf 3 1 2 1 Player 8 cf 4 1 1 0
Nick Goetz ss 3 0 1 0 Player 9 rf 4 1 2 0
Darrin Ward p 3 0 1 1
TEAM TOTALS 27 6 9 5 TEAM TOTALS 35 3 11 3

E: Nick Goetz(3), Marty Cullen, Darrin Ward, Player 1, Player 4. DP: Oxford Kings 1.
LOB: Herts Falcons 7, Oxford Kings 15. 2B: Player 2, Player 9. 3B: Aspi Dimitrov. HR:
Player 2. SB: Jim Hyde(2), Dan Kerry. CS: Player 2.

Herts Falcons IP H R ER BB SO
Darrin Ward W 7.00 11 3 3 3 5
Oxford Kings            
Player 1 L 6.00 9 6 3 2 5

HBP: by Darrin Ward (Player 3). . , by Player 1 (Jim Hyde). . . , by Player 1 (Jim
Hyde). . PB: Player 2. T: 2:28. A: 151.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 1st:
Player 1 struck out looking.
Player 2 reached on error, caught trying to steal 2nd.
Player 3 hit by pitch.
Player 4 struck out swinging.
0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 1st:
Jim Hyde singled, forced out at 2nd.
Andy Cornish hit into double play.
Jason Greenberg struck out swinging.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 2nd:
Player 5 walked, forced out at 2nd.
Player 6 reached on fielder's choice, batted forward to 2nd.
Player 7 singled.
Player 8 struck out looking.
Player 9 grounded out.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 2 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 2nd:
Kimiyoshi Saionji walked, batted forward to home.
Dan Kerry struck out looking.
Marty Cullen grounded out.
Aspi Dimitrov singled, 1 RBI.
Nick Goetz struck out looking.
1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 3rd:
Player 1 walked, batted forward to 2nd, forced out at 3rd.
Player 2 singled, batted forward to 3rd.
Player 3 reached on fielder's choice, batted forward to 2nd.
Player 4 singled.
Player 5 out by infield fly rule.
Player 6 popped out.
0 runs, 2 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 3rd:
Darrin Ward grounded out.
Jim Hyde hit by pitch, advanced to 3rd on error, advanced to home on passed ball.
Andy Cornish reached on error, advanced to 2nd on error, advanced to 3rd on passed
ball, batted forward to home.
Jason Greenberg reached on error, advanced to 2nd on passed ball, batted forward to
home.
Kimiyoshi Saionji singled, advanced to 2nd on throw, batted forward to 3rd, tagged
out going to home, 2 RBI.
Dan Kerry singled, stole 2nd.
Marty Cullen flied out.
3 runs, 2 hits, 2 errors, 1 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 4th:
Player 7 flied out.
Player 8 singled, batted forward to home.
Player 9 singled, batted forward to home.
Player 1 singled, batted forward to 3rd.
Player 2 doubled, 2 RBI.
Player 3 grounded out.
Player 4 walked.
Player 5 flied out.
2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 4th:
Aspi Dimitrov tripled, batted forward to home.
Nick Goetz struck out swinging.
Darrin Ward singled, forced out at 2nd, 1 RBI.
Jim Hyde reached on fielder's choice, batted forward to home.
Andy Cornish singled, batted forward to 3rd.
Jason Greenberg singled, batted forward to 2nd, 1 RBI.
Kimiyoshi Saionji walked.
Dan Kerry popped out.
2 runs, 4 hits, 0 errors, 3 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 5th:
Player 6 singled, forced out at 2nd.
Player 7 struck out looking.
Player 8 reached on error, batted forward to 3rd.
Player 9 doubled.
Player 1 grounded out.
0 runs, 2 hits, 1 error, 2 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 5th:
Marty Cullen grounded out.
Aspi Dimitrov struck out looking.
Nick Goetz singled.
Darrin Ward grounded out.
0 runs, 1 hit, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 6th:
Player 2 hit solo home run, 1 RBI.
Player 3 grounded out.
Player 4 popped out.
Player 5 singled, advanced to 3rd on error.
Player 6 reached on error, advanced to 2nd on error.
Player 7 reached on error.
Player 8 grounded out.
1 run, 2 hits, 2 errors, 3 LOB.
Herts Falcons – Bottom of the 6th:
Jim Hyde hit by pitch, stole 2nd, stole 3rd, tagged out going to home.
Hyde ejected for tossing helmet after being called out at home. It must be noted
that Hyde did not say a single word to the umpire and this may have just been due to
frustration. Hyde wouldn't have been ejected if this had happened in an MLB game.
Andy Cornish popped out.
Jason Greenberg reached on fielder's choice.
Kimiyoshi Saionji popped out.
0 runs, 0 hits, 0 errors, 1 LOB.
Oxford Kings – Top of the 7th:
Player 9 struck out swinging.
Player 1 reached on error, advanced to 2nd on error.
Player 2 flied out.
Player 3 popped out.
Falcons are AAA Champions…Falcons are AAA Chapmions…Go crazy folks…go crazy
0 runs, 0 hits, 1 error, 1 LOB.

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