The AAA league teams of the Essex and Hertfordshire ball clubs produced two classic games of baseball. They will go down in history as two of the purest games of baseball ever played on these shores. On a warm but grey afternoon, these the two evenly matched teams battled it out for five and a half hours over a marathon 17 innings of baseball. The Falcons were coming off a fantastic 7-1 season opening homestand, but they faced a much improved Essex Arrows with a retooled pitching staff. The day would see 34 strike outs and only 12 runs, but what a great day it was.
In game one, Essex took an early 1-0 lead. Their leftie starter, Ritchie Chesterton, took the mound and quickly retired the Herts batters in the first two innings. In the third Aspi Dimitrov led off with a bunt, followed by a walk for Rod Naghar. Both quickly made it home after a combination of a steal, passed ball and the only error in the game made by Essex. The Falcons added two more runs in the fourth and fifth with Greg Bochan and Jason Greenberg coming in to score. Greenberg scored after a perfect sacrifice bunt by Marty Cullen. The bunt was so good that Greenberg was followed home by Kimiyoshi Sajonji flying around the bases all the way from second base only to be called out on a close play at home. The umpire’s decision prompted some very heated arguments. There was a lot at stake and this was evident by the fiery reaction by Falcons player-manager Greenberg. The Arrows kept in touch with two runs of their own. Hurky-jerky starter, Nic Goetz, had another quality start for the Falcons and his nerves held up as he completed the game to pick up his fourth win of the season.
Falcons ace Darrin Ward started game two while the Arrows named newly signed Colombian flame-thrower, Carlos Mancheno. Inning-after-inning both pitchers kept putting up zeros on the scoreboard. The teams had to wait until the 6th inning for the first run of the game and it came thanks to the heavy rain of the previous night which had left a massive pond of mud and water just behind 3rd base.
Jason Greenberg and Marty Cullen got on base after two singles and found themselves on 2nd and 3rd with two out. Up stepped Nic Goetz. With two strikes against him he hit an almighty towering pop-up which took an eternity to come down. This was a routine pop-up on other day but this time the ball was heading down straight for the foot-deep mud behind 3rd base. The Arrows shortstop, Perez, made his way into the swamp just in time for the ball to drop into his glove. But suddenly, the ground gave in from underneath his feet as he slipped and the ball rolled out of his glove and into the mud. Goetz was safe and Greenberg and Cullen came around to score two precious runs.
With a 2-0 lead and Ward painting a masterpiece from the mound, the win seemed to be within reach for the AAA League leaders from Hertfordshire. They needed just 6 more outs.
The Arrows had other ideas. Two hits and a walk loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the sixth. The next batter hit a groundball straight into the gloves of second baseman Kimiyoshi Sajonji. This was tailor-made for a double-play, but the Arrows runner from first base cleverly got himself into a run-down. To keep the double-play alive Saionji got the force out at first base and then proceeded to tag the runner from first for the third out. A well-executed double-play but it proved out to be very costly indeed as at Falcons got sucked into the double-play while at the same time the runners from 2nd and 3rd had come around to score and tie the game at 2-2.
This was not a day for those with a nervous disposition. The 2-2 scoreline remained that way for 3 more innings as Ward and Mancheno continued to battle it out in extra innings. It was becoming very clear that a single run could mean the difference between success and failure. It is in games like this that minor errors become magnified exponentially. What if the Falcons managed to execute with a runner on third and no outs in the 5th or if Perez hadn’t dropped the ball in the mud for Essex? The reality is that errors are very much part of the game and players will have their good and bad days, but those that occur in an unforgettable game like this would stay in the memory the longest.
Into the bottom of the 10th inning and both starters were running out of gas. The pressure was on the shoulders of 16-years old Falcons pitcher, Pete Kikel, who relieved Ward on the mound. The leadoff batter got on base on an error. Kikel managed to get two outs but not before the bases were loaded. The count was three balls and one strike. No space for errors. With his next pitch Kikel managed to get the much needed groundball but it had enough power to go between the Falcons infielders who were sprawled out on the ground in a last-ditch attempt to stay in the game.
A classic game of baseball, appreciated by players and fans who were lucky to be present on this incredible day. Bring on next weekend’s baseball action! The Arrows will be looking to help the Falcons out next week when they play the London Metros. The Falcons will take on the Windsor Bears and are looking to continue their winning ways with a sweep.
GAME 1, 12:00pm
|Herts Falcons at Essex Arrows|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Herts Falcons 4, Essex Arrows 3|
|Herts Falcons||Essex Arrows|
|Lee Manning ss||3||0||0||0||F. Perez ss||4||1||3||0|
|Jason Greenberg c||4||1||1||0||B. Marchant lf||3||1||0||0|
|Kimiyoshi Saionji 2b||3||0||1||0||C. Mancheno rf||3||0||1||1|
|Peter Kikel 3b||2||0||0||0||R. Chesterton p||2||0||0||0|
|Marty Cullen dh||2||0||0||1||B. Florence cf||3||1||1||1|
|Darrin Ward 1b||2||0||0||0||S. Simmons c||3||0||1||1|
|Greg Bochan lf||2||1||1||0||A. Bonsor 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Aspi Dimitrov cf||3||1||2||1||L. Castro 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Rodney Naghar rf||2||1||0||0||S. Wodzynski 3b||1||0||0||0|
|Nick Goetz p||0||0||0||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||23||4||5||2||TEAM TOTALS||25||3||7||3|
|E: Lee Manning, F. Perez. LOB: Essex Arrows 5, Herts Falcons 5. 2B: Jason Greenberg,
Kimiyoshi Saionji. SB: Aspi Dimitrov(2), Kimiyoshi Saionji, Greg Bochan, Rodney
Naghar, B. Marchant. CS: Darrin Ward, Lee Manning, F. Perez, S. Wodzynski. SB: Marty
|Nick Goetz W||7.00||7||3||3||2||3|
|R. Chesterton L||7.00||5||4||2||6||7|
|HBP: by Nick Goetz (B. Marchant). , by Nick Goetz (S. Wodzynski). WP: R. Chesterton.
PB: S. Simmons(2). T: 2:30. A: 35.
GAME 2, 2:30pm
|Herts Falcons at Essex Arrows|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||R||H||E|
|Essex Arrows 3, Herts Falcons 2|
|Essex Arrows||Herts Falcons|
|F. Perez ss||3||0||1||0||Lee Manning lf-ss||5||0||1||0|
|B. Marchant c||5||0||0||0||Jason Greenberg c||5||1||2||0|
|C. Mancheno p||3||0||0||0||Kimiyoshi Saionji 2b||5||0||0||0|
|R. Chesterton rf||5||1||2||1||Marty Cullen 1b||4||1||1||0|
|B. Florence cf||2||1||2||0||Peter Kikel 3b-p||4||0||0||0|
|S. Simmons 2b||4||0||1||0||Nick Goetz ss-3b||4||0||0||0|
|A. Bonsor 1b||4||0||0||2||Greg Bochan dh-lf||4||0||1||0|
|A. Clarke 3b||3||0||0||0||Aspi Dimitrov cf||3||0||0||0|
|J. Cane lf||4||1||0||0||Rodney Naghar rf||3||0||0||0|
|Darrin Ward p-rf||0||0||0||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||33||3||6||3||TEAM TOTALS||37||2||5||0|
|E: F. Perez, B. Marchant, A. Clarke, Nick Goetz. LOB: Herts Falcons 7, Essex Arrows
8. 2B: Greg Bochan. SB: R. Chesterton, C. Mancheno, Aspi Dimitrov(2), Darrin Ward,
Greg Bochan. CS: F. Perez.
|C. Mancheno W||10.00||5||2||0||1||16|
|Peter Kikel L||0.67||2||1||0||0||0|
|HBP: by C. Mancheno (Aspi Dimitrov), by Darrin Ward (F. Perez). . . . . , by Peter
Kikel (C. Mancheno). WP: C. Mancheno(4). PB: B. Marchant(4). T: 2:30. A: 35.