Herts All Stars – with the 2010 title in their sights.
The Herts All-Stars maintained their unbeaten record this year with a win against the Halton Polecats in the Semi-Final of the 2010 National Youth Baseball Championships.
This is the second successive year that the Herts All-Stars reach the showpiece event where the top four teams in the country battle it out for the championship. This year the event was held at John Mills Ballpark, which is the home of Halton Baseball Club. The venue was prepared immaculately by the hosts and the stage was set for two days of top class British youth baseball.
All hotels in the Runcorn and Warrington area were packed as teams and fans descended on Halton. The Herts travelling contingent had filled one of the hotels in Warrington to capacity and observers could easily have concluded that Herts are the home team based on the number of Herts supporters making the long trip to Merseyside.
Herts and Halton had met once before in their history and it was once again at the semi-final stage of the Championships 12 months ago. Herts were the winners on that occasion but it was a nail-biting win which had to be decided in extra innings. A lot can change in youth baseball over 12 months so it was difficult to predict who had the upper hand ahead of this game.
The Herts All-Stars got the start they wanted in the top of the first inning when Marty Cullen Jr launched a 2-out solo home run over the right field wall. Herts extended their lead with five runs in the second inning. This included a towering one-run double from Brodie Caress which dropped just short of the outfield fence. Jesse Reinebold, Jonny Compton Weight and Mikito Ariga added more pressure with hits of their own to drive in the other four runs, including Kieran Manning who worked the walk to get on base.
After this Halton settled down defensively and allowed only one more Herts run to come in with Carlos Casal Jr taking advantage of a wild pitch to come slide home and extended the lead to 7-0.
Starting on the mound for Herts was Nick Martinez. He produced yet another outstanding performance allowing only 2 hits over 5.1 innings striking out 12 batters.
Most teams would struggle to lift themselves with a 7-run deficit, but credit has to be given to Halton Polecats who went into the bottom of the final inning with a lot of determination. They loaded the bases and managed to get two runs in.
In came the All-Stars closer, Marty Cullen Jr, needing one more out to put his team into the Final. Despite the pressure of having the bases loaded on a catcher’s interference and the tying run waiting on deck, Cullen Jr executed with precision to strike out Halton’s final batter.
In the second semi-final, reigning champions, London Mets, won comfortably against the Manchester Saints. This set up a London Mets vs Herts All-Stars final in a repeat of last year’s unforgettable final. Can the Herts All-Stars gain sweet revenge over their arch-rivals? After heavy rain in Merseyside all games on Sunday were postponed so everyone is left on the edge of their seats awaiting the decision from the British Baseball Federation about the date when the games will be played for the crowning of the 2010 British Champions.
The Herts Baseball Newswire will keep you up-to date with all the news. Stay tuned.