Although the sun shone on the bank holiday weekend, fortune did not smile on the Herts baseball teams.

The Raptors played host to the powerful Southampton Mustangs on the second week of A-division action. Things did not start well for pitcher, Ken Pike, who struggled with his control and walked batters. Four runs came in. But the visiting pitcher Dave Wrigley also had a poor start, including hitting a batter. Herts struck back with a run, and the game remained quite tight as it developed, with Mustangs slowly inching ahead.

Ken Pike in pre-season action
Ken Pike in pre-season action

The Raptors rookies, including Charlie Williams and Oz Kemal, were putting in solid performances. Ken Pike made good plays at shortstop to keep his side in the game, but the home team missed out on too many close plays. Rusty veteran Rob Jones was on the end of a frustating succession of “nearly plays” from third base.

It was 9-1 to Southampton going into the seventh inning, but then the wheels seemed to come off for Herts. Walks, errors and some good hits helped the Mustangs score 8 runs. Lefty relief pitcher Phil Gover came in and was able to stem the bleeding with his deceptive curve, and give Raptors one more chance to keep the game alive.

At this point, the Mustangs catcher had realised what his pitcher did not – Wrigley was in line for the first no-hitter in his club’s history. And the inning encapsulated the game. The first two Raptors hitters made good contact, but excellent play by the defence kept them off the bases. Then Wrigley’s control failed again and he issued a walk to Rob Jones, one of seven the pitcher gave up on the day. The runner stole second and stole third, but in that time the Mustangs’ starter had struck out the final Raptors batter. It was a convincing 17-1 win.

In the AA-division, Greg Bochan and Andy Cornish took their Herts Hawks to the south coast to face Poole Piranhas. It started badly, with Herts giving up 3 runs in each of the first three innings. Despite that, there were several attempts at a comeback, and Jeff Witter and Nick Russell helped the Hawks chip away.

Coach Bochan was pleased with the way his team performed, and there was “outstanding” work in the outfield by Hunter Devine and Ralph Bartholomew. The Hawks scored two more runs in the final innings, but it was never enough to overhaul the home side. Poole won 9-4.

The Herts club is still winless after two weeks of the season, but the managers are taking positives from what has happened so far. The first opponents have been some of the strongest in the various divisions, and Herts must take the lessons it has learned into fixtures which offer good hopes of a win.

The National League Herts Falcons had to reschedule their games against Croydon, and will instead go in search of their first win against the London Mets next week.

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