Report from Herts Baseball Newswire Correspondent, DAVE HAMILTON
A dominant pitching performance from Louis Hare and dream Herts debut for Mike Wakelam led the Herts Eagles to a pair of victories in their AAA league debut against the London Metros. Despite a tough opening-day fixture, away to more seasoned AAA opposition, the Eagles focus, determination and aggression over 14 innings saw them run out worthy winners.
Playing in glorious April sunshine in Finsbury Park, Herts baseball's newest team got off to the perfect start, leading from start to finish in their league debut before battling back to clinch victory with a last-inning rally in game two of the double-header.
In the season's opener, leadoff man Rod Ariss didn't waste his opportunity to make history by scoring the first Eagles run in the top of the first inning, and the honour of the Eagles' first league hit went to Bart Schouwenaars in the second inning. However, these stats were soon overshadowed by the pitching of Louis Hare who retired the first six Metros hitters and went on to strike out 12 batters (including an astonishing five in a row) with his combination of fastballs and knee-buckling curves. The home team were off balance throughout and managed just four hits off the Herts right hander in his complete game effort.
Meanwhile powerful hitting from player-manager Dave Westfallen helped the Eagles build a 5-0 lead after five innings which, given Hare's mastery on the mound, looked like being more than enough for victory. Nevertheless, the visitors took advantage of some erratic relief pitching to add some insurance runs and make the final score an emphatic 15-1, Mike Wakelam's 3-run double the highlight in the 10-run last inning rally.
Game two was always likely to be a closer affair although Carlos Casal launched his Eagles career in style with a hit, coming round to score and again give Herts an early lead. This time though the Metros responded with two first inning runs of their own to take the lead. Casal put the Eagles back ahead 3-2 in the third, with the second of his four runs in the game, before the home team got some luck in the fourth inning – managing to scrabble two infield singles with the bases loaded to take a 5-3 lead.
Trailing late in the game, the Eagles' determination was undeniable, with shortstop Nick Russell sliding hard into team-mate Rod Ariss as they raced to field a ball that bounced up off the mound, and relief pitcher Mike Wakelam diving full stretch to snare a pop up. This aggression proved invaluable in kick starting the offense however, with some excellent base running forcing mistakes from the Metros and enabling the Eagles to tie the score at 5-5 in the fifth inning before the bottom of the order sparked a four run seventh inning rally to give them a 9-5 lead. This was more than enough for Wakelam who, with a little help from his infield, claimed the final three outs for a 9-6 victory.
After describing the first victory as 'not bad', new manager Dave Westfallen was more enthusiastic about the Eagles come-from-behind victory in game two, commenting “this was a fantastic team effort and a great start to the season”. Having also spilt blood for the cause after a foul tip caught him in the ear in game 1, Westie was keen to quash rumours that he had requested an injury time-out by saying “please ump my ear really hurts”, insisting that he wanted to keep playing!
While the exact truth behind that story may never be known, one thing is certain – if the Eagles can repeat this form over the next few months, the rest of the league better watch out! Hertfordshire's newest team are not just here to make up the numbers – they're here to WIN.
GAME 1 BOX SCORES
|Herts Eagles at London Metros|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||R||H||E|
|Herts Eagles 15, London Metros 1|
|Herts Eagles||London Metros|
|Rod Ariss 2b||3||2||2||0||Player 1 p||3||1||1||0|
|Nick Russell ss||3||1||1||1||Player 2 c||3||0||1||0|
|Mike Wakelam 3b||4||2||1||4||Player 3 1b||3||0||0||0|
|Louis Hare p||4||1||0||0||Player 4 2b||3||0||1||0|
|Dave Westfallen c||3||2||2||1||Player 5 3b||3||0||0||0|
|Bart Schouwenaars 1b||4||2||3||2||Player 6 ss||3||0||0||0|
|Rodney Naghar rf||2||2||1||0||Player 7 lf||3||0||1||0|
|Dave Hamilton cf||1||2||0||0||Player 8 cf||2||0||0||0|
|Tim Elkins lf||3||1||1||1||Player 9 rf||2||0||0||0|
|Jonathon Lewys xf1||1||0||1||0|
|Carlos Casal xf1||1||0||1||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||29||15||13||9||TEAM TOTALS||25||1||4||0|
|E: Mike Wakelam(2), Player 8. LOB: London Metros 3, Herts Eagles 12. 2B: Mike
Wakelam, Bart Schouwenaars. SB: Bart Schouwenaars(2), Rod Ariss(2), Dave
Westfallen(2), Rodney Naghar(2), Nick Russell, Louis Hare, Player 4, Player 1. CS:
Nick Russell, Player 2. SF: Dave Westfallen.
|Louis Hare W||7.00||4||1||0||0||12|
|Player 1 L||7.00||13||15||11||16||3|
|HBP: by Player 1 (Tim Elkins), by Player 1 (Nick Russell). . T: 2:17. A: 39|
GAME 2 BOX SCORES
|Herts Eagles at London Metros|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Herts Eagles 9, London Metros 6|
|Herts Eagles||London Metros|
|Rod Ariss 2b||3||2||1||1||Player 1 p||2||2||0||0|
|Carlos Casal 3b||3||4||3||1||Player 2 c||4||0||1||1|
|Nick Russell ss||3||0||0||1||Player 3 1b||2||0||0||1|
|Louis Hare 1b||2||1||0||0||Player 4 2b||4||2||1||0|
|Dave Westfallen c||4||0||0||0||Player 5 3b||4||0||2||0|
|Bart Schouwenaars p||1||0||0||0||Player 6 ss||4||0||1||1|
|(b4) Mike Wakelam p||2||0||1||1||Player 7 lf||3||1||1||0|
|Rodney Naghar lf||4||0||0||0||Player 8 cf||3||1||0||0|
|Dave Hamilton cf||2||1||0||0||Player 9 rf||3||0||1||0|
|Jonathon Lewys rf||2||1||0||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||26||9||5||4||TEAM TOTALS||29||6||7||3|
|E: Carlos Casal(3), Nick Russell, Dave Westfallen, Bart Schouwenaars, Player 2(2),
Player 1, Player 3. LOB: Herts Eagles 4, London Metros 8. 2B: Carlos Casal, Player 4.
SB: Carlos Casal(5), Rod Ariss(3), Dave Westfallen, Louis Hare, Dave Hamilton, Player
1(2), Player 6. S: Nick Russell.
|Mike Wakelam W||3.67||2||1||0||1||6|
|Player 1 L||7.00||5||9||5||5||5|
|HBP: by Player 1 (Bart Schouwenaars). . . . . , by Player 1 (Louis Hare). WP: Bart
Schouwenaars(2), Player 1. PB: Player 2(2). T: 2:23. A: 39.