Report from Herts Baseball Newswire Correspondent, ROB JONES
2 games. 138 runs. Well over 9 hours of action. The Herts Raptors and London Marauders have already built up an extraordinary history together. The first time around, it was a narrow win for the Herts team — this time, it looked like being another marathon nail-biter, until the Raptors finally managed to assert themselves and save the need for floodlights.
It was already gone 5pm when the rematch began. And for the Herts team, it began well. Mistakes on the bases and a strong throw from centre-fielder, Iwan Evans, meant the visitors fell victim to a quick double play, and they were up and down in the first inning without scoring. By contrast, Raptors built on several solid base hits with an aggressive stealing policy, and racked up 7 runs. But then the familiar exchange of high scoring resumed. The London team weighed in with 6 runs of their own in the top of the second and the heavyweight contest began in earnest.
In the third inning London chased the Raptors starter, Andrew Slater. The Marauders had mastered the knack of hitting the ball into gaps, and mistakes and missed chances in the field only helped their cause. After an inning which seemed to last an eternity, the visitors had taken the lead 21-17.
Fat rain fell sporadically on the field now as the Marauders' pirate chants battled with the band of enthusiastic Herts fans. And in the gathering gloom, it was the Raptors star Jon Lewys who stepped up to lead the charge. Now pitching, he challenged and blew away a string of London batters, fielding some of the plays himself. There were catches from Paul Curtis, and Rob Jones, and hits from Jack Calow and — of course — that man Lewys. Herts gained momentum and the door was eased shut on the visitors. The lead stretched beyond the ten needed for the slaughter rule.
With nine o'clock already a distant memory, the final play was scrappy but decisive. A ground ball which looked like it should have been called foul sneaked through two Herts fielders, before luckily ending up in the hand of one of them. The London base-runner had seen his chance to head home, but Andrew Slater, now wearing the catcher's gear, was able to pull in the wayward throw and tag the runner. It was a euphoric moment, the team's third win of the year, and a bounce-back from two weeks of disappointment. Both sides had played an even game in a fine spirit, and the 41-26 win will surely not be the end of the story.