Richmond Dragons 16-21 Herts Hawks — Sunday 26th June, Connare Field
Another hard-earned victory is in the bank for the Herts Hawks. After last week’s epic struggles which ended in defeat, this week the Hawks came out on the winning side of another see-saw battle. They travelled to Richmond to face the Dragons, who came from behind to win when they visited Grovehill earlier in the year.
This time Herts set out their stall from the very start. Ilya Dimitrov got aboard with a walk, and then stole both second and third bases. He was finally driven home by Hunter Devine. That one run was the difference at the end of the first inning, and Hawks would never fall behind.
Dimitrov and Devine would keep up their contributions in the field, too. The Herts infield was widely praised for keeping Richmond in check, and Devine and the veteran first baseman Jeff Witter turned two double plays. Witter also made a diving catch, as the Hawks list of heroes grew ever longer.
In fact there were just ten Herts players to go round, and one of them got injured, so on a baking hot day they all knew there was no choice but to stick with it and bring their A-game. Last week’s MVP Andrew Slater once again was a towering presence, while Ilya Dimitrov complemented his speed with two doubles to centre field and four runs. Matt Johnston also racked up impressive offensive figures on the day, hitting.500 and getting 3 RBI’s. Team-mates said he was “on fire” on the base paths.
This is not to say that Richmond rolled over. These two clubs have a long history of tough battles, and this game remained tight throughout. The visitors led 8-7 after five innings. The Dragons tied it up at the bottom of the seventh, after holding the Hawks scoreless for the first time.
But the Herts pitching did its job. Nick Russell, who pitched his full nine innings last week, was the starter again this time and kept Richmond off balance. His stuff was said to be electric. Jim Arnott, last year’s phenom in the Raptors, replaced him late in the game and kept the Richmond bats in check. Herts pitchers were charged with a total of only 6 walks but 9 strikeouts, and excellent ratio.
It was 16-14 going into the final inning, and everything was on the line. Herts chose this moment to match their biggest inning of the game, putting five runs on the board to build a vital cushion. Richmond were able to pull back two runs, but it was never going to be enough. The Hawks ran out 21-16 winners.
This had been another fine team performance. Even those who did not have gaudy stats contributed an enormous amount – outfielder Dave Hamilton picked up 5 walks with his patience at the plate, while the reassuring presence behind the dish, Kal Dimitrov, gunned down a runner at second to end an inning.
The team’s managers, Greg Bochan and Andy Cornish, could not be in Richmond to witness the latest Hawks victory, but they were blown away by what their team had done. They even joked that maybe they should stay away more often.