Baseball may not be the number one sport in Great Britain but on Saturday’s evidence it is clear that it has been making real progress in the last few years and is beginning to attract many new players and fans. In one of the final events of the 2008 baseball season, eight of the top youth teams in Great Britain took part in the Herts Futures Tournament. This is a new event in the British baseball calendar organised by Herts Baseball Club and held at its Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire. It proved to be a real celebration of baseball and a very fitting way to celebrate the end of the season.
The eight teams were split into two groups of four and they battled it out in a round robin format. The London Mets and the Horsham All-Stars stamped their authority early with two convincing wins against the Windsor Bears and the Herts Junior Raptors. This set up an intriguing clash between the two teams in the last group game to decide which of them will clinch top spot in the group and a place in the final. Horsham came out on top with a 6-4 win.
In the other group the visiting teams did not know what to expect from the Herts Junior Hawks which is a team representing the hosts, Herts Baseball Club. The Herts players play in the Herts Little League which is an independent league created only 12 months ago. Despite fielding some players who were visibly younger than their opponents, the Junior Hawks produced some terrific baseball. They won all of their group games to clinch first place in their group.
This meant that the final of the first ever Herts Futures Tournament was to be contested between two teams representing independent youth Leagues.
The Horsham and Herts teams were removed by the BBF from participating in the 2008 National Championships. It must be said that the BBF were forced to do so for logistical reasons which were out of their control but still it is ironic that these same teams overcame their BBF opponents to reach the Final on Saturday.
The Herts vs Horsham Final proved to be a classic. Herts Junior Hawks took a 2-1 lead and seemed to be on their way to a famous victory, but then Horsham struck back in the top of the final inning with 3 vital runs. Herts managed to reduce the deficit scoring a run in the bottom of the inning, but the all important tying run was left stranded on second base.
The disappointment on the faces of the Herts players was there for all to see, but those players should be very proud of finishing second in only their second tournament against opponents outside of Hertfordshire’s Little League.
FULL TOURNAMENT SCOREBOARD
|GROUP 1||HOME||VISITORS||GROUP 1 STANDINGS||W||L||Runs +/-|
|11:00am||London Mets||16||vs||0||Herts Jr. Raptors||Horsham All-Stars||3||0||27|
|11:00am||Horsham All-Stars||10||vs||0||Windsor Bears||London Mets||2||1||21|
|12:15pm||Herts Jr. Raptors||0||vs||15||Horsham All-Stars||Windsor Bears||1||2||-4|
|12:15pm||Windsor Bears||3||vs||10||London Mets||Herts Jr. Raptors||0||3||-44|
|1:30pm||Horsham All-Stars||6||vs||4||London Mets|
|1:30pm||Herts Jr. Raptors||2||vs||15||Windsor Bears|
|GROUP 2||HOME||VISITORS||GROUP 1 STANDINGS||W||L||Runs +/-|
|11:00am||Bracknell Blazers||5||vs||9||Herts Jr. Hawks||Herts Jr. Hawks||3||0||13|
|11:00am||Brentwood Bucks||8||vs||1||Tonbridge Bobcats||Bracknell Blazers||2||1||6|
|12:15pm||Herts Jr. Hawks||9||vs||7||Brentwood Bucks||Brentwood Bucks||1||2||3|
|12:15pm||Tonbridge Bobcats||2||vs||10||Bracknell Blazers||Tonbridge Bobcats||0||3||-22|
|1:30pm||Brentwood Bucks||1||vs||3||Bracknell Blazers|
|1:30pm||Herts Jr. Hawks||7||vs||0||Tonbridge Bobcats|
|3:00pm||Horsham All-Stars||4||vs||3||Herts Jr. Hawks|
|3:00pm||Bracknell Blazers||11||vs||0||London Mets|
|3:00pm||Windsor Bears||2||vs||7||Brentwood Bucks|
|3:00pm||Tonbridge Bobcats||11||vs||10||Herts Jr. Raptors|