The London Metros (2-0) arrived at Hemel Hempstead by tube, train and taxi on Sunday to face the AAA-dominant Falcons (6-0). Both teams anticipated a tough day of baseball against their undefeated league rivals. The Herts squad was also keenly aware that the Metros National League side had the week off, and some of the nation's best sluggers would 'play down' to help their AAA farm team continue its winning streak. Even the ABUA-GB Umpires Association got into the spirit sending Commissioner Darrin Muller to officiate the match from behind home plate.
Game One started well for the Falcons, who shut down the Metros 1-2-3 in the 1st and got on the board early with a solo home run from shortstop Andy Cornish. But that was all the offense the Falcons would muster as Metros pitching shut out Herts in the next four frames. London put up crooked numbers in each of their remaining at-bats, almost all coming on Falcons defensive errors, and they took the game 15-3 in six innings. It was the worst the Herts defense has played all season and by far the toughest outing yet for hurler Nic Goetz who gave up 7 earned runs on 13 hits with 5 walks. The Falcons hit .259 in the game and Cornish's solo shot was the only recorded RBI. Seven Falcons were stranded on base.
The tough transition to the second game, then, was all-important. In a short team chat in the break Manager
From the first-inning the table was laid at 1-1. The Metros advanced a runner home on an infield error, but the Falcons countered with a lead-off single from Lee Manning, followed by a hit-and-run double from Greenberg and a sacrifice fly from Cornish. Herts was going to play this game more aggressively. Down 2-1 in the bottom of the 5th inning, Kimiyoshi Saionji was hit squarely in the back by a pitch to lead-off the inning. Undeterred, he stole 2nd base and was batted home on a double from center fielder Dan Kerry.
Tied 2-2 going in the bottom of the 6th, catcher Greenberg – in a career-worst slump starting the season only 2-for-19 – came to the plate with two outs and nobody on base. He knocked a hard-hit single through the left side, then immediately stole second base and advanced to third when the throw-down scooted away from the 2nd baseman. Cornish followed with a clutch line drive that glanced off the right-fielder’s outstretched glove, and the Falcons took a 3-2 lead.
Darrin Ward pitched masterfully, allowing only 2 runs on 6 hits with 1 walk and 8 strikeouts. It was a true gem of a performance. In the top of the 7th-inning, with Metros on second and third and one out, Ward reached deep into his reserves and struck out the final two batters to clinch the win. All three outs in the inning were K's, and the final punch-out came on three, successive fastballs on the inside corner, each climbing the ladder on the last. It was perfect pitching in any league. Ward pumped his fist in the air and the Falcons celebrated the split and their 7-1 first-place record.
|London Metros at Herts Falcons|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||R||H||E|
|London Metros 15, Herts Falcons 3|
|London Metros||Herts Falcons|
|Player 1 ss||4||3||2||1||Lee Manning rf||4||0||1||0|
|Player 2 lf||2||1||1||2||Jason Greenberg c||3||0||0||0|
|Player 3 p||5||1||2||2||Andy Cornish ss||3||1||1||1|
|Player 4 cf||5||1||4||2||Kimiyoshi Saionji 2b||3||0||0||0|
|Player 5 rf||3||0||0||0||Marty Cullen 1b||3||1||2||0|
|(b4) Sub 2 rf||2||1||1||0||Peter Kikel 3b||3||0||1||0|
|Player 6 1b||4||2||3||0||Dan Kerry cf||3||1||2||0|
|Player 7 2b||1||0||1||2||Greg Bochan lf||3||0||0||0|
|(b4) Sub 1 2b||2||1||0||0||Darrin Ward dh||2||0||0||0|
|Player 8 3b||2||0||0||0||Nick Goetz p||0||0||0||0|
|(b4) Sub 4 3b||1||2||1||2||Aspi Dimitrov p||0||0||0||0|
|Player 9 c||2||3||1||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||33||15||16||11||TEAM TOTALS||27||3||7||1|
|E: Player 1(2), Sub 4(2), Player 3, Andy Cornish(2), Marty Cullen, Peter Kikel. DP:
Herts Falcons 1. LOB: Herts Falcons 7, London Metros 8. 2B: Sub 4, Player 4, Player
2, Peter Kikel, Dan Kerry. 3B: Player 4. HR: Andy Cornish. SB: Player 6(2), Sub 4,
Player 4, Andy Cornish. SF: Player 2.
|Player 3 W||6.00||7||3||1||1||3|
|Nick Goetz L||5.00||13||12||7||5||3|
|WP: Nick Goetz(3), Aspi Dimitrov. PB: Jason Greenberg. T: 2:30. A: 60.|
|London Metros at Herts Falcons|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Herts Falcons 3, London Metros 2|
|Herts Falcons||London Metros|
|Lee Manning dh||4||1||2||0||Player 1 p||4||1||2||0|
|Jason Greenberg c||3||1||2||0||Player 2 c||3||0||0||0|
|Andy Cornish ss||3||0||0||1||Player 3 1b||4||0||2||1|
|Kimiyoshi Saionji 2b||2||1||0||0||Player 4 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Marty Cullen 1b||3||0||0||0||Player 5 3b||2||0||0||0|
|Dan Kerry cf||2||0||1||1||Player 6 ss||3||0||0||0|
|Nick Goetz 3b||2||0||0||0||Player 7 lf||3||0||0||0|
|Aspi Dimitrov lf||3||0||0||0||Player 8 cf||3||0||0||0|
|Rodney Naghar rf||2||0||0||0||Player 9 rf||3||1||1||0|
|Darrin Ward p||0||0||0||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||24||3||5||2||TEAM TOTALS||28||2||6||1|
|E: Nick Goetz(2), Jason Greenberg, Player 4, Player 9. LOB: London Metros 7, Herts
Falcons 11. 2B: Jason Greenberg, Dan Kerry. SB: Jason Greenberg, Andy Cornish,
Kimiyoshi Saionji, Player 3. SF: Andy Cornish.
|Darrin Ward W||7.00||6||2||1||1||8|
|Player 1 L||6.00||5||3||2||6||6|
|HBP: by Darrin Ward (Player 2). . . . , by Player 1 (Kimiyoshi Saionji). . . PB:
Player 2(2). T: 2:30. A: 60.
GAME NOTES: The Falcons travel to Essex on June 1st for their second series in 2008 against the Arrows…… Sunday saw the first home plate collision of the season as a Metro was tagged out by Greenberg when he barreled-in but failed to dislodge the ball…… Cornish's homer was his first of the year and he joins second-baseman Saionji in that elite club…… True to the rumours, former Falcons manager Bruce Dullea was spotted at Grovehill toward the end of the series as a third base coach for the visiting Sidewinders, who played a late afternoon game against the Herts Hawks…… Lead-off batter Lee Manning is .333 on the season with 8 runs and 4 RBI proving his consistency in the one-hole…… Team-leader Kimiyoshi Saionji was held hitless for the first time all spring, but still leads the Falcons with a .522 average and .633 OBP, and is slugging .783 with 3 doubles, 1 home run and 14 RBI.