The strong winds blowing across Grovehill ballpark on Sunday did nobody any favours, but the Herts baseball teams seemed to suffer the most.
The Herts Raptors faced their most evenly matched opponent of the year so far in the London Marauders, but the wind quickly played a part. Starting pitcher Phil Gover found his curve ball hanging in the breeze, and the outfielders were outfoxed by a series of huge fly balls.
Six runs scored in the first inning before balls kept on the infield secured the outs. Chris Deacon — returning from injury — made smart plays to retire runners at second base, though the Raptors never quite achieved the double play they were after.
Eight more runs crossed in the second before Raptors could answer back, and by the middle of the fourth the visitors lead was 27-6. Then, at last, the home team’s bats came alive. Hustle and bold hitting got results, Will Belbin and Oz Kemal picked up RBI’s, and the Raptors put 10 runs on the board.
This dramatic comeback included the strangest hit of the day. A mis-hit dribbler went back to the London pitcher, but it got him in the shins and bounced away – after two overthrows the batter was safe at third base and all the runners had scored. Sadly, such good fortune was not to last. In the end, Marauders had too much batting power for the Herts side and ran out 37-19 victors.
At least Herts did put an exclamation mark at the end of the game, as Little League graduate Zach Longboy pitched a 1-2-3 inning in his senior debut on the mound.
The other Herts teams also endured tough days. The Hawks led 6-5 after three innings, and were only narrowly behind after four. But they then suffered a bad inning which has been the hallmark of Herts losses this year. Guildford Mavericks scored 7, and then shut out their hosts to win 21-8.
One bad inning also undid the National League Falcons, at home to the Mildenhall Bulldogs. Ace Darrin Ward was on the mound in the first game but an explosion of 13 runs in the top of the third pretty much settled the matter. Nic Goetz pitched the second game, which went the full seven innings but still ended in defeat for Herts, this time 11-1. Manager Lee Manning said too many mistakes had cost the Falcons in the first match-up, but he was pleased with a better all round defensive performance in the second. “We were just out-hit”, he concluded simply.