Report from Herts Baseball Newswire Correspondent, ROB JONES
This was another tale of bold battling from the Herts rookies, but two bad innings consigned them to a tough but honourable defeat.
The Raptors started well in the Essex sunshine. Four of the first five hitters reached base, and the visitors plated three runs. But the Rays pounced when Herts' starting pitcher, Hunter Devine, struggled with his control as he nursed a tight shoulder. With the help of merciless base-stealing, Braintree took a 9-3 lead in the first inning, and that helped them keep their noses in front.
The next few innings saw the initiative ebb and flow. Having left the mound, Hunter Devine was a menace at the plate and on the bases. He stole 7 bags in all, and Jon Lewys — the Raptors' player of the year so far — came up big again with hits and with strikeouts. By the middle of the fifth it was 16-8 to Braintree, and the match was finely balanced.
Then the Rays bats suddenly got to work. Their hits managed to find gaps in both the infield and outfield and it was death by a thousand cuts for the Raptors as seven runs scored. Throughout the game there had been notably few big hits from the Rays — the outfield had a mostly quiet day, save for one booming hit which turned into a 3-run homer because of the lack of any outfield fence. But, however they are scored, the runs all count.
Raptors tried to strike back in the top of the sixth but a little bit of bad luck sealed their fate. After Ilya Dimitrov earned the latest in his series of walks, he stole his way to third. Rob Jones worked the count and fouled off pitches before finally connecting with a sharp line drive. But rather than finding a gap for an RBI it whizzed straight into the shortstop's waiting glove, and he sharply doubled off Dimitrov at third base. A potential rally was decisively stifled.
Raptors did manage one last hurrah, in the top of the seventh, as they tried to avoid the slaughter rule. A single and a walk got runners on base, and as Chris Brown beat the throw to first on a dropped third strike, Jeff Witter ran in to score from third. He slipped, but was able to literally crawl across home plate and keep the game alive. The Raptors managed to score four runs, but finally the Rays were too strong.
More images of the Raptors' trip to Braintree provided by Rob Jones
|Herts Raptors at Braintree Rays|
|Score By Innings||1||2||3||4||5||6||7||R||H||E|
|Braintree Rays 24, Herts Raptors 12|
|Braintree Rays||Herts Raptors|
|Player 1 p||2||4||2||2||Hunter Devine p-1b||4||2||3||0|
|Player 2 c||4||4||3||3||Ilya Dimitrov cf||2||2||1||1|
|Player 3 1b||4||3||3||2||Rob Jones ss||4||2||0||0|
|Player 4 2b||3||0||1||1||Andrew Slater 3b||3||2||1||1|
|Player 5 3b||3||4||2||1||Jonathon Lewys 1b-p||4||1||4||3|
|Player 6 ss||2||3||0||0||Jeff Witter 2b||3||1||0||0|
|Player 7 lf||3||1||1||5||Nick Read c-3b||2||0||0||0|
|Player 8 cf||4||2||1||1||(t4) Perrie Sherman cf-c||2||0||0||0|
|Player 9 rf||3||3||1||0||Phil Crooks lf||3||0||0||0|
|Chris Brown rf||3||1||0||0|
|(b4) Paul Curtis rf-lf||2||1||1||0|
|TEAM TOTALS||28||24||14||15||TEAM TOTALS||32||12||10||5|
|E: Player 2(2), Player 3, Hunter Devine. LOB: Braintree Rays 5, Herts Raptors 7. 2B:
Player 2, Player 3, Player 1, Jonathon Lewys(2), Paul Curtis. HR: Player 7. SB:
Player 2(10), Player 3(7), Player 1(6), Player 5(5), Player 8(4), Player 9(4), Player
7(3), Player 4(2), Player 6(2), Hunter Devine(7), Ilya Dimitrov(7), Jonathon
Lewys(5), Andrew Slater(2), Rob Jones(2), Jeff Witter, Paul Curtis. CS: Hunter
Devine. SB: Player 1.
|Player 1 W||7.00||10||12||6||8||11|
|Hunter Devine L||1.00||3||10||10||10||1|
|HBP: by Player 1 (Nick Read). WP: Player 1(2), Jonathon Lewys. PB: Player 2(2). T:
3:20. A: 60.