The Cambridge Royals won the HSL AAA Championship while the Guildford Mavericks are the HSL AA Champions as spring training ended for minor league teams and they prepare for the show to begin next weekend.
HSL – AAA
Sunday’s HSL schedule was revised slightly due to the London Mets (U17) absence. The key clash of the day was the game between the two unbeaten teams Cambridge Royals and Essex RedBacks. Four pitches into the game and the RedBacks starting pitcher pulled a groin muscle. He suffered the same injury in the previous weekend of the HSL so this is a major blow for the Redbacks ahead of the new season. The Royals took advantage and won the game 10-2. They did lose their second game of the day against the Herts Hawks 13-1. Hawks pitcher Nic Goetz picking up the win with a strong performance in that game. Despite the loss the Royals knew that they had clinched the HSL AAA title regardless of the score in the other games involving the RedBacks and MK Bucks as they had beaten both teams and in the event of a tie in the standings the Royals would be the winners on their head-to-head record.
The RedBacks won their game against MK Bucks in what turned out to be a game to determine the runner-up of the HSL AAA. Rich Chesterton was the winning pitcher for the team from Essex.
The Sidewinders were winless so far this Spring and despite having a shortage of players on the day they did have enough quality to win both their games to climb up two places in the table. They ended the day with an exciting 6-5 win against the MK Bucks. Tadaki Junior was the starting pitcher picking up the win while Tadaki Senior picked up the save restraining a last-inning rally by the Bucks.
HSL – AA
On Saturday the Guildford Mavericks clashed with the Essex RedBacks II in the HSL AA Final. Both teams stayed unbeaten in the group stage but it was Guildford who came out on top 13-5. In the 3rd and 4th Place game the Kent Mariners dominated against the Herts Raptors winning convincingly 28-10. The second team from Guildford also had a good day beating the London Marauders 13-8. The GB cadets secured 7th place finish with a big win against the Herts Eagles who were missing some key players like starting pitcher Theo Scheepers, Oz Kemal, Will Belbin, among others.
THE SHOW BEGINS
This year’s HSL has proven to be a big success. A record 20 teams took part and with support from very high quality umpires and great venues in Herts and Guildford this felt more like the postseason National Baseball Championships than Spring Training.
Herts Baseball Club President, Aspi Dimitrov said: “We have had fantastic feedback from participating teams, players, coaches and fans” and he added that “the HSL has become a very enjoyable and productive competition in the British Baseball calendar and the best way to prepare for the start of a new season.”
With Spring Training completed all eyes will now turn towards next Sunday’s opening day games of the 2012 season with NBL, AAA, AA and A League teams all in action across the country.