Herts Eagles 9-37 Richmond Dukes, Grovehill Ballpark
The Eagles’ impressive winning streak was brought to a sharp halt on Sunday (June 2nd) by the power of the Richmond bats, and a dominant performance on the mound by Dan Collett.
The game started with the teams seeming evenly matched. Andrew Slater was pitching for the home side and was once again staying in the strike zone and fearlessly challenging hitters. The top half of the Dukes line-up showed its capabilities and brought home some early runs, 2 in the first and 4 more in the second.
But the Herts fielders were able to keep it under control. The Eagles manager, Duncan Hoyle, made a strong throw on a difficult dribbler to third to get one batter out. Shortstop Rob Jones and first baseman Michael Cresswell made their contribution to the highlight reel, with Jones diving to backhand a ground ball before unleashing a desperate throw which bounced several times before Cresswell grabbed it to beat the runner by half a step.
The Eagles also put up runs of their own, Hoyle bringing in two runners with an imperious line drive. Adam Landau-Smithers continued his season of walks and stolen bases to score one of three runs the home side put on the board in the opening frames.
But Herts also hurt their own cause with some mistakes on the basepaths. Twice, they committed the cardinal sin of making the final out of an inning at third base, attempting ill-advised steals.
At that point it looked as if it could go either way. Then Collett really found his rhythm and Herts started to fall behind. The Richmond hitters consistently found gaps in both infield and outfield, and it seemed clear that this day was not going to fall in Herts’ favour. Mike Archibald and David d’Urbano were a constant threat along with Collett, each hitting multiple RBI’s.
Slater was relieved after throwing more than a hundred pitches, and Michael Cresswell began well on the mound. But he then lost his zone and had to be substituted after suffering an injury. Rob Jones was the next to take the ball, getting out of the inning with the help of two infield fly balls but then issuing two walks and hitting a batter in the seventh.
New players also enjoyed success. Rookie Chetan Shah made a good catch in the outfield and made better and better contact with the bat as the day went on. Daniela Phillips was substituted in to the demanding position of third base, and made the final defensive out with an impressive throw across the diamond on a ground ball.
All in all, manager Duncan Hoyle was disappointed but resolute. “There’s no shame in being beaten by the better team on the day”, he said, “and Richmond were very strong. We still made some good plays. We are at .500 on the year which is excellent, and the league is still wide open if we keep up the form we have been showing.”