Richmond clinched the 2011 Herts Spring League Championship in the Majors Division, while the Milton Keynes Bucks were crowned Champions of the Minors Division.
Twenty teams played 46 games over the last three weekends as part of the annual Herts Spring League competition. This was the final rehearsal for the teams from the British baseball leagues before the start of the new baseball season.
Over the years the teams have become accustomed to the unpredictable weather during this Spring competition, but this year, and this weekend in particular, the games were played in weather conditions which we can expect only in the height of summer. Temperatures were as high as 23oC and the barbeques were out in force around Grovehill Ballpark in Herts.
Once the first pitch was thrown it was all about the baseball and we were not disappointed. Both the Majors and Minors Finals were decided by a one-run difference and everyone was kept on the edge of their seat right to the end.
In the Majors Division the Richmond Flames clashed with the newly formed Southern Nationals. At the end, the 2010 National Champions, Richmond, came out on top with a dramatic 6-5 win.
In the Minors Division Final, we saw a repeat of the 2010 Single-A National Final between the Milton Keynes Bucks and the Guildford Mavericks. The game was played at exactly the same venue in Hemel Hempstead and again turned out to be a classic match-up. The MK Bucks were once again victorious, but it took everything they had in their tank to win 11-10.
The remaining teams in the competition also played their final games. Herts Falcons, Lakenheath Diamondbacks and Mildenhall Bulldogs played in a three-way playoff to determine the Bronze medallists in the HSL Majors. Each team won one and lost one so it came down to who conceded the fewest number of runs in these games. On the basis of that rule Mildenhall was confirmed as the winner of the 3rd Place Playoff. Lakenheath finished fourth and the Herts Falcons fifth. Bracknell finished 6th. Essex Arrows secured 7th Place after an impressive 11-8 win against their old rivals, the Southampton Mustangs. The Sidewinders beat the Herts Hawks 10-4 to finish fifth in the HSL Minors. Ahead of their first season back in the British baseball leagues, the Cambridge Royals won convincingly against the Leicester Blue Sox. Finally, despite a late fight back by the Herts Raptors, the London Marauders came out on top 13-10.
All attention now turns to next Sunday’s Opening Day of the 2011 British baseball season. If the Herts Spring League is an indication of what we can expect this year then we are in for one of the most exciting seasons in recent times.
For full details of the scores in the final weekend of HSL action visit the official HSL website.