By Herts Hawks beat reporter, Simon Langton
On Sunday May 16th the Herts Hawks played out a hard fought double header with the Croydon Pirates III. The two very tight, dramatic and at times wet games ended with each team picking up their first wins of the season. Both games were played in good spirit which allowed for an enjoyable day of baseball despite the weather.
Game one saw Hawks manager Greg Bochan go the distance pitching all seven innings and striking out 9, to pick up a well deserved 12-9 win. Defensively the Hawks were solid, shutting out the Pirates in five of the seven innings played. However, a bad second inning, riddled with errors and involving a two run triple followed by a one run double, gave the Pirates a 7-0 lead and almost the game. The Hawks responded well, allowing only two more runs to be scored all game, this limited the Pirates to an overall total of 9. Special mention needs to go to Matt Johnston whose outstanding catch in left field typified the defensive effort, and to Paul Curtis who made a good debut at 3rd base.
The Hawks offence was ruthless throughout the game. Inspired by shortstop Hunter Devine’s 3 RBIs the Hawks capitalised at every opportunity that came their way, whether by walk, error or hit, to score. Going into the seventh and last inning however the Hawks were still trailing by nine runs to seven and when Croydon were able to retire two Hawks hitters with a 9-8 lead still intact, the game was looking all but over. A four run two out rally gave the Hawks a 12-9 lead which they were able to protect in the bottom half of the seventh giving them the win.
Game two was all about good offence and bad pitching. The Hawks’ Simon Langton was unable to consistently find the strike zone giving away 8 walks in only 5 innings. That meant that that despite a huge defensive effort — including an unassisted double play by 1st baseman Tim Elkins — Croydon scored 14 runs. Fortunately Croydon’s pitcher was suffering from the same problem, which along with Tim Elkins’ 3 RBIs allowed the Hawks to be only down by one run going into the sixth, behind 14-13.
From the sixth inning the game became very exciting. Simon Langton — now playing centre field — made up for the walks with a 2 RBI double, this gave the Hawks a one run lead. Croydon were however able to counter with 2 runs of their own in the bottom half of the sixth restoring their one run lead. In the top of the seventh the Hawks offence responded. Hunter Devine maintained his excellent hitting from game one with an RBI double and Simon Langton followed by driving in another 2 runs to give the Hawks a 2 run lead going into the bottom of the seventh. When Perrie Sherman who had come on in relief was able to get two outs with the lead intact. However a two out rally which included a fielder’s choice and three consecutive singles proved sufficient for the Pirates to bounce back and take the game 19-18, splitting the double header.