The Herts Falcons 2 have been the surprise team of the British Baseball Federation Division 1 this season. A new team full of rookie players, they finished their first full season in 3rd place, winning 10 games and losing 5.
Sunday was the Falcons last game of the regular season and they entered the game with the same record as their opponents, the Havering Cardinals. The Cardinals had the psychological advantage having beaten the Falcons twice already this season but the Falcons were confident coming into the game with a 6-game winning streak.
Veteran pitcher Paul Raybould started on the mound for the Falcons but was quickly in trouble against a very aggressive Havering batting line-up. The young Cardinals team were also quick on the base paths and soon put four runs on the board.
In the Falconsst inning, Rod Naghar lead off with a base hit and soon Herts had the bases loaded with nobody out. Unfortunately, the Falcons could not capitalise and ended the inning with only one run.
Raybould continued to struggle in the 2nd inning. His usual hard-breaking curveball was hanging in the breeze and Havering took full advantage scoring another 4 runs. In the 4th, Raybould was replaced on the mound by the Falcons ace reliever Larry Martillo.
The Falcons closed the gap dramatically in their half of the 3rd inning. Kal Dimitrov lead off the inning with a base hit and moved to second base on Peter Kikel’s single to right field. Rob Jones then walked to load the bases. Rod Naghar then blasted a two-run double to left-centre followed by a two-RBI single from Ross Davies. Davies later scored on a double from Stuart Boast.
Martillo went on to pitch 4 strong innings and by the end of the 7th, Havering’s lead had been cut to 13-11. In the Falcons recent winning streak, one of the biggest improvements the team had made was in their fielding. Suddenly, in the 8th inning, their fielding fell to pieces and they committed 5 errors to let the Cardinals score 3 runs. Herts responded with 2 runs in the bottom of the 8th.
Perhaps it was the tension or tiredness from a long, hot game but again the Falcons fielded badly in the 9th. Three more errors allowed Havering to extend their lead to 20-13 and that was the final score-line as the Cardinals shut-out the Falcons in the bottom of the 9th.
Of Havering’s 20 runs, only 10 were earned (runs scored that were not the result of a Falcons fielding error).
So the Falcons ended their season on a disappointing note and it also marked the final league game for Paul Raybould in a Falcons uniform. In addition, it was probably long-time Falcon Stuart Boast’s last ever game. Stu retired from the team last year with a serious knee injury but has made a few guest appearances this season. He’ll be undergoing an operation soon which could result in him not being able to play again.
On the positive side, many of the young new players have shown great improvements during the season and although finishing 3rd was a terrific achievement, the team will be looking to do better next year.