Hertfordshire is becoming baseball-crazy. Saturday’s event was yet another confirmation of this. Around 200 fans came to enjoy a great day of baseball at Grovehill Ballpark which started at 9:30am with a special Little League pre-game clinic ran by GB coaches and finished 11 hours later with the GB exhibition games.
The baseball facilities at the home of Herts Baseball Club were being utilized to the full especially around midday. Two Little League games were taking place on the two Little League fields. Little League spectators who were in attendance had the chance to see Zachary Longboy of the Herts Bue Jays turn a triple play, which is one of the rarest plays in baseball. At the same time the GB Junior National Team was taking their batting practice behind the main field, while GB Senior Team Head Coach, Stephan Rapaglia, and his colleagues were putting the twenty or so GB Trialists through various drills to evaluate every aspect of their game.
This was one of the last tests for the GB Junior National Team before the European Championships qualifying. The team is flying to Sweden next week to start their campaign and Head Coach, Liam Carroll will be upbeat about the team’s chances after a good showing today and over the last few games, including a second place finish at the International London Tournament last week.
The GB Trialists’ team included players from various clubs around Great Britain. Players made the trip to Hertfordshire from places as far as Edinburgh, but the longest trip was made by Head Coach, Stephan Rapaglia, who landed from America at 6am on the day of the event.
Before the GB Exhibition game both teams and the Herts Little League players took part in the pre-game ceremony which included a traditional team roll-call. This was followed by the National Anthem performed by 7-year old Mariana Casal, the ceremonial first pitch was thrown by Brian Essery and caught by Roddi Liebenberg, both members of the European Championship silver-medal winning GB Team last year in Barcelona. There was also a “second” ceremonial first pitch. This time the 50 or so Little League players lined up with their balls to pitch to the adult players from the GB Junior and GB Trialists teams.
Among the Trialists were two members of the hosts Herts Baseball Club. Andy Cornish and Dan Kerry received the biggest cheer from the hometown fans. Both performed very well and hopefully they have done enough to impress the GB coaches.
Visit the Herts Baseball gallery for more photos from this special day.