The final weekend of the 2010 Herts Spring League on April 10-11 was blessed with glorious spring weather and fine baseball at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead and Richmond Baseball and Softball Club's field in Ham.
At Hemel Hempstead, Bracknell Blazers captured the Majors Division title by scoring early runs and then holding off the Herts Falcons for a 5-2 win. Mike Trask started for the Blazers, who used four pitchers on the day, combining for five hits and five walks but no earned runs.
Dan Kerry started for Herts and took the loss in a five-inning stint that saw him give up only three hits — but 10 walks proved his undoing.
Ryan Trask had two hits and two RBIs for Bracknell, who served notice that they won't surrender their National Championship title easily in the expanded National Baseball League (NBL) that begins play on April 18.
In the battle for third place in the Majors Division, Mildenhall Bulldogs also made a statement of intent about the coming season by thrashing the Southampton Mustangs 14-3. Both teams have been newly-promoted to the NBL for the 2010 season.
The Bulldogs took an early lead with three runs in bottom of the first inning, but Southampton soon cut that back to 3-2, and then 4-3.
But six Mildenhall runs in the bottom of the fourth inning put the Bulldogs on the road to an easy win.
Mildenhall first baseman Perez had a homer, a double and six RBIs to lead their attack, wile pitcher Brandon Blide struck out 14 Mustangs in nine innings while surrendering just five hits.
Fifth place in the Majors Division went to one of the BBF's new teams this year, Essex Redbacks, who defeated Herts Eagles by 12-7, while Richmond Flames took seventh place with an 11-4 win over the Milton Keynes Bucks. Majors Division Placings 1 – Bracknell Blazers 2 – Herts Falcons 3 – Mildenhall Bulldogs 4 – Southampton Mustangs 5 – Essex RedBacks 6 – Herts Eagles 7 – Richmond Flames 8 – Milton Keynes Bucks
The tightest games of the weekend were in the Minors Division, and you'd go a long way to find a more exciting game than the title decider between the Leicester Blue Sox and the Sidewinders.
The Sidewinders led 10-2 after three innings and 15-5 after three, and the title was surely theirs.
But then the Leicester charge began. Six runs in the bottom of the sixth inning certainly chopped the lead, but a Sidewinders run in the top of the seventh meant the Blue Sox still needed five in their last at-bat to tie and six to win. Surely they couldn't stage that kind of rally again…?
Well, they could and did! Six more runs poured across the plate in the bottom of the seventh and Leicester had a wildly improbable triumph.
In a game of 33 runs, Shannon Henry was the pitching saviour for Leicester, holding the Sidewinders to just one run over the final two innings in relief of Richard Hu. Shannon also chipped in with three hits and four RBIs, while Oscar Martinez and Richard Hu had three RBIs each for the winners.
Third place in the Minors Division went to the Windsor Bears, who defeated Richmond Dragons by a score of 18-2.
Guildford Mavericks captured fifth place with a 13-12 squeaker over Herts Hawks, while a bad day for Herts continued (they had four teams in the Majors and Minors playoffs and all of them lost) when London Marauders crushed the Herts Raptors 31-5 to win seventh place. Minors Division Placings 1 – Leicester Blue Sox 2 – Sidewinders 3 – Windsor Bears 4 – Richmond Dragons 5 – Guildford Mavericks 6 – Herts Hawks 7 – London Marauders 8 – Herts Raptors
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