The Lakenheath Dbacks steam-rolled their opponents to win the Majors Division of the 2012 Herts Spring League (HSL). The Harlow Nationals came in second after a win against Essex Arrows to add to their victory over the London Mets in week one.
MICHELS DOMINATES ON THE MOUND
The final week of HSL games for the country’s top teams started with a convincing win for the Herts Falcons over the Harlow Nationals. The Nats had many members of their championship-winning roster including the 2011 MVP, Edwin Alcantara, Maikel Azcuy, Brendan Cunliffe, Marty Cullen, Carlos Casal and the magical short stop, Luis Goncalves, who was facing his former team mates from Herts having spent five years as a player of the Falcons, however there were some notable absentees. Many of their players were called up by the GB Under-19 National Team for a friendly game in Birmingham. They were also missing ace pitcher, Jason Roberts, with unconfirmed reports that he is on the DL and may miss opening day.
Their absence cannot take away from the impressive performance of the Falcons. Their new arrival from New York, Jake Michels, started on the mound and pitched a complete game shutout allowing only one hit and striking out 9 Nationals in the process. The Falcons offence was also looking strong giving the hosts a 9-0 win.
ARROWS’ NEW LOOK ROSTER
The Nationals bounced back in a close game against the Essex Arrows winning 4-2. There were some notable additions to the Essex Arrows roster including one of the best catchers in the NBL, Jon Mabie and infielder, John Blose, both moving to Essex from the Mildenhall Bulldogs. Franklin Perez is a new arrival from the Nationals and the legendary Darrin Ward who moves across to Essex after 4 years with Herts. Before the games Herts presented Ward with a series of awards which he earned playing for the Falcons in 2011 including Best Pitcher, Home Run Champion, Batting Champion, and most RBIs, underlining what a big loss his departure will be for Herts. The player who caught everyone’s attention was the Arrows’ new unnamed shortstop, who made two spectacular diving plays during the game showing off his acrobatic skills and strong arm.
The Arrows also lost their second game of the day to the Dbacks, who also beat the London Mets earlier with an impressive 6-1 score line. This was the Mets’ second loss in the HSL, but they recovered to secure a very impressive 7-0 win against the Herts Falcons. Starting pitcher Pietro Sollecito kept the Falcons bats very quite with a lot of control and movement on his pitches.
Despite the loss the Falcons still had a chance to win the 2012 HSL Majors as the suspended game from week 1 against the Dbacks was resumed. Lakenheath were leading 7-5 and they needed only 3 more outs in the bottom of the final inning to end their HSL campaign with a 100%-record. New arrival, Cris Hiche, led off the inning by getting on base for the Falcons, but that didn’t seem to worry Dbacks pitcher, Carl Petmecky, who retired the next three batters stranding Hiche on base.
STAGE SET FOR OPENING DAY
On their HSL showing, Lakenheath look like the team to beat, especially when Ken Reber returns to the UK in the next few weeks, however teams like London and Harlow also looked impressive despite missing some of their big names. Essex Arrows also look strong. Herts made a series of high-profile signings and all eyes will be on them. Then there are the Bracknell Blazers, Croydon Pirates, and Southampton Mustangs who are preparing for the new season behind closed doors and could have a surprise for the rest of the league next Sunday, 1 April, when the show begins with the Herts Falcons hosting the Bracknell Blazers at Grovehill Ballpark. First pitch 1:30pm.