The Herts Little League All Stars faced their first ever international competition this past Saturday when they hosted an All Star team from southern Ireland in a 7 inning friendly game at ‘the hill’.
With the Herts Little League only in its 2nd season, the question on everyone’s lips was, “can they compete at a higher level?”
The Herts All Stars answered……………………and answered LOUDLY!
From the first pitch, all pre-game jitters seemed to disappear behind the determined game faces of Herts. Starting pitcher, Marty Cullen Jr retired the first 5 batters via the strikeout and didn’t allow a hit in his 3 innings on the mound recording 8 strikeouts. Pitcher Nick Martinez came in and continued the domination recording 5 strikeouts and no hits in 2 strong innings. Assistant coach Arnie Longboy said after the game, “pitching wins games, and we might have the best one two punch in the British youth system right now”. Relievers Mikito Ariga and Zach Longboy also combined for 3 strong innings allowing only 1 run in the rout providing further evidence of the depth in the Herts bullpen.
At the plate, the Herts bats came alive knocking in 25 runs with every Herts batter reaching base via the hit. Doubles and triples were the flavour of the day against a good Irish pitching staff. Herts batters had a record 14 extra base hits including a monster home run to deep center by newcomer Jamie Dix.
Manager Marty Cullen had this to say after the win, “It’s all about preparation. These kids have worked so hard, and it really showed today. I’m so proud of how they came together as a team. They did everything right. For me, this was a prep game for the BBF championships and I saw exactly what I wanted to see.”
The day itself was a tremendous success as the legendary Herts fans came out in droves, soaking up the atmosphere (as well as a record number of hot dogs and donuts). The Irish Wolfhounds also enjoyed the hospitality displayed by Herts and their supporters despite the tough loss. The Irish Manager said, “All credit to Herts. They put on a great event and they play hard. We would definitely come back.”
Next stop…….the BBF Youth Championships. Do the Herts All Stars have what it takes to bring home the Gold? I’m willing to bet that there are a few teams around the Country nervously asking that same question.