In the third and final week of the 2011 Hunlock Series, the Herts Blue Dogs faced an onslaught from the other three Hunlock Series teams. Each of them tried to knock the Dogs off the top of the standings, but they held on to win the Series.
WIDOWS AND LIGHTNING ELIMINATED
All four teams were still in the running at the start of the final day. The Black Widows knew that they needed to win all three of their games. Their first opponents were the Red Roosters who took what seemed to be an insurmountable 6-2 lead into the final inning. The Black Widows’ bats suddenly came alive and they recovered to tie the game 6-6. Starting pitchers Justin Henderson and Greg Bochan were still going strong on the mound as the game became a pitchers’ duel going into extra innings. Ultimately, the Reds scored a key run in the top of the fifth and held on to that 1-run lead. This meant that the Black Widows were out of the running.
The Red Roosters were gathering momentum and won their second game of the day in a closely fought battle with Herts White Lightning, which meant that they were also out of the reckoning.
This set up a colossal encounter between the Red Roosters and the Blue Dogs, the winner of which would become the 2011 Series Winner. Both teams had reserved their ace pitchers, Nick Russell (Blue Dogs) and Nic Goetz (Red Roosters), for this deciding game. Everything seemed to be going smoothly for the Reds. They built up a comfortable 5-2 lead going into the final inning and with Goetz on the mound it seemed like the Blue Dogs were going to fall at the final hurdle. One or two big hits in this last inning were not going to be enough for the Dogs. They needed to put runners on base and then a batter who can step up and drive them in under the enormous pressure that was building up. They successfully did the first part of their task scoring two runs to make it 5-4 and loaded the base for co-manager, Andrew Slater. He stepped up and delivered the knockout blow with a walk-off 2-run double, giving the Blue Dogs a first-ever Hunlock Series Championship.
A special mention goes to Herts Baseball legend, Geoff Hare. He wore the Falcons number 10 jersey for over a decade, and before that played with the Hemel Red Sox. Everybody connected with Herts Baseball Club knows Geoff. A magnificent short stop and a leadoff batter, a player who can hit for power and for average, Geoff has always been the first name in any Herts manager’s line-up. Over the last few years Geoff’s magnificent contribution to the club has continued in a coaching capacity and he has now become one of the best and most respected umpires in Great Britain. He was out of the country in the first two weeks of the Series, but wanted to make sure that he can support his club in this event and after returning from abroad immediately made himself available to umpire 4 of the games in the final weekend.
HERTS BASEBALL PREPARES FOR WINTER BREAK
The Hunlock Series has once again proved to be a fitting way to end the baseball season. Over the three weeks of the competition current, former and potential new club members and their families have had the opportunity to play baseball and be together at the club’s home, Grovehill Ballpark, in the hottest October in history. The Series expanded from 3 to 4 teams this year and the addition of the Herts Under-17 All Star team players has given the adult team members an opportunity to see the results of the hard work by players and coaches in the Herts Little League. Some of these youth team players are already representing Herts in the adult leagues and their number will be growing even faster in the coming years as the Herts’ youngsters mature into exceptional baseball players.