Essex Atoms 1 Herts All Stars 12 (Box Scores)
The Herts All Stars are through to the Semi-Finals of the 2011 Under-14 National Baseball Championships after a dramatic win against old rivals, London Mets.
Despite being the defending champions, Herts went into the postseason playoffs as the third seed team behind LYBL and London who were first and second seed, respectively, so they had a very difficult task on their hands.
Before even thinking about facing the higher seeded teams Herts had to overcome the Essex Atoms in an elimination game. The two teams had not met in the past so the team from Hertfordshire did not know what to expect. They quickly took control of the game with a 9-0 lead after two innings. Jose Morillo, Zack Longboy and Richard Ganster each had three hits in the game. Callum Vangundy, Lewis Green and Brodie Caress also contributed with hits of their own. Jose Morillo started on the mound and Gavin Peterson came in to close in the final inning. They combined for a no-hitter. Credit must be given to the Essex Atoms who kept going all the way to the end. Their effort was rewarded with a run in the final inning. This is their first ever season in the Under-14 League and they will be getting better as they get more games under their belts.
Herts All Stars 10 London Mets 4 (Box Scores)
Next up for the All Stars was a Quarter-Final encounter with the London Mets in a repeat of the National Final 12 months ago. Herts took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first after Richard Ganster beat out a groundball in the infield with two outs to drive home Zack Longboy. In the bottom of that inning Zack Longboy started very confidently on the mound striking out London’s first three batters. This was proving to be another pitcher’s duel until the third inning when Herts exploded with a devastating offensive display against the London pitcher who had been almost invincible up to that point. Zack Longboy started it all with an impressive opposite-field home run down the right field line. A walk by Jose Morillo was followed by three singles from Lewis Green, Richard Ganster and Callum Vangundy.
London responded strongly with two runs in the bottom of that inning followed by a 2-run home run in the top of the fourth to make the score 6-4 going into the final inning. The score could have been even closer if it wasn’t for an inch-perfect relay from the outfield wall in centerfield with Lewis Green gunning down the London runner at home.
The tension around the ballpark was incredible. Spurred on by the deafening noise from the Herts fans, the All Stars produced another hitting assault. Longboy led-off with another single (3-3, HR , 1 RBI, 3 R). With one out, Lewis Green then worked a walk to get on base. Richard Ganster (2-3, HR, 5 RBI) launched a towering 3-run home run to left-centerfield. Not to be outdone, Brodie Caress (1-3, HR) then stepped up and crushed an identical home run of his own to round-off a 4-run inning.
Despite having a 10-4 lead there was still work to do in the bottom of that final inning. Zack Longboy (5 IP, 9 K, 3 H, 2 ER) was still on the mound and he ended the game in style with three quick outs to the delight of the travelling Herts fans who invaded the field.
The team will now be heading to Richmond’s Connare Field for the Semi-Finals and Finals of the 2011 National Baseball Championships on 17 and 18 September. Full details of the schedule will be published right here on the Herts Baseball News website.
HEARTBREAK FOR HERTS U17 ALL STARS
The Herts fans who had come to support the U14 All Stars at Finsbury Park had to endure double dosage of tension and drama as throughout the day they were receiving updates of the score from Buckinghamshire where the U17 All Stars were also involved in another playoff battle against the Essex RedBacks.
The lead kept changing hands inning-after-inning. Herts had a slender 1-run lead going into the bottom of the final inning but sadly couldn’t hold on to it losing 11-10 at the end.
Despite the loss, the Herts U17 All Stars should be very proud of a fantastic first ever season going up into this age group. They brought a lot of pride to the Herts Baseball Club showing heart yet again despite missing 5 regular players who were assigned to the Herts U14 roster. All the signs show that the future is bright for the Herts U17 team. A check of the average age of all of the U17 teams which reached the playoff shows that many of the players among their opponents will be over the age limit next year while most of Herts’ players have 2 or even 3 years still to play in the Under-17 League during which they will have the opportunity to shift the balance of power.
A link to Box Scores from the Under-17 Playoff game between Herts and Essex RedBacks will be uploaded here soon.
Click here for more photos from today’s playoff games