Posted on behalf of Herts Newswire Correspondent, DAVE HAMILTON
The Hertfordshire Hawks extended their winning start to the season on Sunday, putting in another strong defensive performance to defeat the Brentwood Stags 6-3 and retain their place on top of the British AA League standings.
In a game that had a little of everything, including disputed umpiring calls and a rain delay, it was a three-run home run by Humberto Goncalves that ultimately made the difference and drove the Hawks to another hard-fought victory.
Manager Carlos Casal praised the team performance saying “we have a strong squad this year and we’re playing some good aggressive baseball. It’s still early and we have a few things to work on in training but it’s great to start the season with two wins.”
The Hawks knew they would be in for a tough contest, travelling to a Brentwood side who had beaten the hotly tipped Bournemouth Sharks in their season opener. However, they managed to keep the same defensive discipline they had produced in their first game, and the score remained at 1-1 after four innings.
That is not to say the game was what baseball afficionados would call a ‘pitching duel’ as both sides managed to consistently threaten only to have their chances snuffed out at the crucial moment. Hawks pitcher John Oliver showed composure under pressure to keep the Stags off the scoreboard, ably supported by some solid infield defense, with the Hawks showing the benefits of their more intensive pre-season training to turn two double plays in the early innings.
Despite the low score the game was proving very eventful, with players from both sides questioning some debatable umpiring decisions, and several runners being caught out on the base paths. The most surprised of these was Oliver, who expected his hit to be caught, only for two Stags outfielders to collide and miss the ball. Looking to capitalise on this mistake, he raced for second base but was then thrown out by a perfect throw from the recovering fielder.
The Stags edged into a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning but this finally stirred the Hawks’ struggling offense into life. With two outs, Ross Asquith used his speed to turn a weakly hit ball into a run scoring single and cut the gap to one. This brought Humberto Concalves to the plate, who blasted the ball over the left field fence for the Hawks first home run of the year, much to the delight of the vociferous travelling supporters.
Now holding a 5-3 lead, Hawks’ relief pitcher Stuart Boast kept the Stags at bay as Brentwood remained unable to find the crucial hit with runners in scoring position. The Hawks added an insurance run in the eighth inning, before a rain delay threatened to bring the game to a premature end. Luckily though the April shower abated and the Hawks retained their focus to close out the victory.
The Hawks now travel to play regular rivals the Richmond Dragons over the Bank Holiday weekend. Looking forward to the encounter, catcher Kal Dimitrov commented “they gave us some tough games last year, so it will be tricky but hopefully we can get the bats going and score a few more runs”. The Herts Manager is certain to be urging his hitters to go on the offensive as the Hawks look to avenge their pre-season defeat and extend their unbeaten run.
|Herts Hawks at Brentwood|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||R||H||E|
|Herts Hawks 6, Brentwood 3|
|Ross Asquith rf||5||1||3||1||Player 1 p||5||2||3||0|
|Humberto Goncalves 2b||5||2||2||3||Player 2 c||4||0||2||0|
|John Oliver p||3||0||3||0||Player 3 1b||4||1||2||1|
|(b5) Stuart Boast p||2||0||0||0||Player 4 2b||5||0||1||0|
|Louis Hare 1b||5||1||1||0||Player 5 3b||5||0||1||0|
|(t1) Carlos Casal 3b||4||1||1||0||Player 6 ss||5||0||0||0|
|Kal Dimitrov 3b-c||4||0||1||1||Player 7 lf||2||0||1||0|
|Luis Goncalves ss||4||0||0||0||Player 8 cf||3||0||0||0|
|Tim Elkins lf||4||1||1||0||Player 9 rf||2||0||1||0|
|Dave Hamilton cf||3||0||0||0|
|(b6) Nick Russell cf||1||0||0||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||40||6||12||5||TEAM TOTALS||35||3||11||1|
|E: Stuart Boast(2), Luis Goncalves, Player 6(3), Player 5. DP: Herts Hawks 1. LOB:
Herts Hawks 8, Brentwood 11. 2B: Player 1. 3B: Player 3. HR: Humberto Goncalves. SB:
Louis Hare(2), Tim Elkins(2), Ross Asquith(2), Carlos Casal, Player 4(3), Player 1,
Player 3, Player 2, Player 9. CS: John Oliver. S: Player 7.
|Stuart Boast W||5.00||3||0||0||4||1|
|Player 1 L||9.00||12||6||5||1||8|
|WP: Stuart Boast. T: 3:00. A: 30.|