The Herts Falcons 1st team gave a good account of themselves as they travelled to take on the best that the US air force had to offer. The 2004 Premier division champion Cambridge Monarchs have swept all before them so far this season, and the Falcons were expecting pretty much the same result. They rose to the challenge as they battled hard and gave the Monarchs a little scare.


Game 1 started with the Falcons scoring 2 runs in the 1st inning from a John Oliver single, but the Monarchs showed why they won last year as they plugged starter Takashi Hirai for 3 home runs in their half of the 1st inning. A scoreless 2nd gave the Falcons a little more confidence, and they plated 2 more runs in the 3rd, courtesy of a 2-run home run from power man Jim Denison, and 1 more in the 4th to make it a close 6 – 5 score after 4 ½ innings. However, Cambridge responded in their half of the 4th as they tagged 2 more HR’s, chasing Hirai from the mound. University of Herts student EJ Zoog took over, and Cambridge looked to be heading for the horizon as they scored 2 more runs before the rarest of events in baseball, a triple play [ all 3 required outs in one play ]. A sharply hit line drive was snagged at 2nd base by the other University student Kyle Hunlock, who then tagged the runner coming from 1st base (2 outs) before throwing over to 3rd base to get the retreating runner (3 outs). That lifted the Falcons as they scored 2 more in the 5th inning, with Jim again going over the fence for his second HR. The 6th inning saw the Falcons down 14 – 7 and they had their best inning of the game, scoring 4 to take it within 3, 3 of those runs coming from the bat of Denison again as he went deep for the third time in the game. A scoreless 6th for the Monarchs and the Falcons really felt they could take it but were blanked in the 7th (final) inning to end the game through some heads up managing from the Monarchs. Denison came to the plate with two men on the bases with one out. Having gone deep in his previous 3 plate appearances, a repeat performance would tie the game, so the Monarchs decided to give him a free pass to 1st base, and threw an intentional walk, much to the displeasure of the Falcons bench. However, the game is all about winning, and that’s what Cambridge did as the Falcons remained scoreless in the 7th, and lost 14 – 11.


Game 2 saw one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in the division start on the mound for Cambridge. No other team had yet managed a hit off Glenn Goodrich, never mind score a run, and after 2 scoreless innings for the Falcons and a 2 run HR off Zoog for the Monarchs, things were looking ominous. The 3rd inning saw the Falcons bats come alive, and some uncharacteristic fielding errors from the Monarchs resulted in 5 runs crossing the plate. Another 2 run HR in their half of the 3rd saw the Monarchs bring it to within 1 run, but the Falcons kept ahead through the 4th and 5th innings and after 5 complete innings were up 7 – 5. It was not to be however. Cambridge bats blasted 9 runs in the 6th inning – 2 more HR’s, one of them a 3 run shot, saw Zoog leave the mound to be replaced by Denison, but he coughed up a few more, the end of the inning seeing Cambridge up 14 – 7. A 3 run rally in the 7th moved the Falcons to within 4, but that was as far as they got, as the game finished 14 – 10.


Although they lost, it was a memorable day for the Falcons to run the champions so close, and to score more runs than any team have so far this season against the Monarchs is a big positive.

They have a week off next Sunday before travelling to Oxford for another double header, where they can hopefully build on the fine performance against Cambridge.

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