The Herts Under-17 All Stars may have had a tough introduction to the BBF Under-17 League in what is the first year ever for a Herts team in this age group, but the team is learning fast and their growth as a team has been evident on the field of play and on the scoreboard as the season has progressed.
They travelled to the picturesque setting of Cobham International School to face the Cobham Cougars who reached the Final in last year’s under-17 National Baseball Championships, losing to the London Mets.
In game one the Herts batters found it very difficult to cope with the Cougars starting pitcher. Despite managing to get six runners on base by earning a walk, there weren’t any hits to drive the runs in. Any solid contact that Herts managed to make with the bats ended up in the hands of the very capable Cobham defence.
Cobham’s pitcher was on the verge of pitching a complete game no-hitter. He needed to get just one more out to produce something very rare in baseball, but with two outs and a full count, Herts third baseman, Kyle Lloyd-Jones, launched the ball deep into right field for a stand-up double. Cobham’s pitcher was visibly disappointed, but judging from his performance he is expected to have many more opportunities in the future to record a no-hitter or perhaps even a perfect game. He did complete the game striking out the next batter. The final score was 12-0 and although this seems like a blow out, the Herts players performed very well defensively with only 4 errors in the game and pitcher Lewis Green improving on his strikes-to-balls ratio (50-40) and striking out 4 Cobham batters in three innings. With Zack Longboy away, Kyle Lloyd-Jones made his debut on the mound, getting the out which he needed with no earned runs.
Game two was a very exciting clash. Starting pitcher Liam Green had control problems in the first two innings and Cobham took advantage by scoring 7 runs. However, Herts came back into the game with their never-say-die attitude. Liam Green settled down and didn’t allow any more runs for the rest of the game. He walked 8 batters in the first two innings but after that nightmare start he walked only 1 and gave up only 1 hit. The Herts defence was working very efficiently behind him committing only two errors in the game – lowest of the season so far. Only three Cobham batters came up to bat in the third inning after an inning ending double play by Kyle Lloyd-Jones. In the fourth they retired the three batters even quicker with three consecutive groundouts, two went to shortstop Lewis Green and one to second baseman, Jose Morillo. This was the most effective inning for the Herts Under-17 All Stars of the year requiring only 5 pitches by Liam Green.
The performance of the Herts defence got the team fired up offensively as well. They started the third inning with back-to-back-to-back singles by Kyle Lloyd-Jones, Lewis Green and Jake Caress. Undoubtedly, the outstanding hitter for Herts was debutant, Charlie Boneham. Coming with a cricket background, this was his first ever game of baseball and yet he seemed so relaxed in the batter’s box despite facing some of the hardest throwing pitchers in the League. Boneham was involved in all three runs scored by Herts. He picked up an RBI in the third inning driving in Lloyd-Jones. In the fourth inning with Jake Caress on first base, Boneham drove the ball deep into right centerfield with a line drive for a stand up RBI triple. Having reached third base he then took advantage of a passed ball to come home and score the third run for Herts.
Herts went into the final inning trailing 7-3 and they managed to get Jonny Compton-Weight and Jose Morillo on base in that inning but the Cougars closer kept his composure and secured the win for Cobham.
Game 1 Box Scores (click to view)
Game 2 Box Scores (click to view)
ENGLAND’S EURO TEAM SWEEPS HERTS
With no league games scheduled for the Herts Under-14 All Stars the team took advantage by travelling together with the Under-17 Herts team to Cobham for a game against Team England which will be representing the country in this month’s Little League European Qualifying games in Poland. With many Herts players away, Coach Kent Peterson, gave some of the club’s Under-11 players an opportunity to get a taste of Under-14 baseball. There was always going to be a disparity between the two teams but it was a useful experience for the young Herts prospects.
The positive news for the Herts Under-14 All Star Team is that once the games in Poland are completed the team expects to be reinforced with the return of three players who will be very critical for Herts when they play in the Postseason Playoffs and National Championships in September.