Written by hertsbaseball.com reporter Chris Jones
Herts U14 team last played a month ago, before the wettest April on record forced the cancellation of three successive weekends’ baseball. It felt good simply to get out into the sunshine and play the game. Twelve U14s made the trip south to face a daunting double-header against an experienced, well-drilled London Mets side.
In horseracing terms the Finsbury Park going would have been described as ‘soft’, but the Mets ground staff did a good job in creating a playable surface. After the Herts team squelched over to the visitors’ dugout, more of the handsome new Herts baseball jerseys were distributed to the players. Herts fielded a few new joiners (a big welcome to Leon Bowers, Alex Guthrie and Tom Jansson-Wright), and the team took to the field in a combination of white jerseys, an anorak and a couple of “Drew Mayhew” Herts t-shirts.
From the first inning Herts were up against it. Mets starting pitcher Takiya struck out the first three batters without bat touching ball, and in response London hit a triple and a double. Although base-stealing is not allowed at this level until pitch passes plate, the Mets also advanced six bases on wild pitches or passed balls. Callum Vangundy then struck out batters six and seven with some good pitching to close the inning. The second and third innings followed a similar pattern, and by the bottom of the 3rd Herts found ourselves down 10-0. But their defensive play had started to improve, with a good ground-out at first and a nice tag applied at third base. At the top of the fourth the visitors picked up their first two hits of the game: Aaron Witter hit a single and Callum Vangundy followed up with another single to bring home Tom Adams for an RBI. However, Herts continued to give up runs in the remaining innings, and the game ended 19-1 to the Mets. The difference between the two teams was mainly down to London’s 66% strike percentage, compared to Herts’ 40%; but more consistency will certainly come as pitchers gain experience on the mound. All credit to Herts, though – despite the scoreline, heads didn’t drop and there was a high level of commitment throughout.
The second game started more evenly. Herts picked up an early run after Tom Adams hit a single and Callum hit a double to bring him home. Starting pitcher Ben Jones then pitched a tidy inning, giving up only two runs. Later in the game he was relieved by Gavin Peterson who produced one of his best performances on the mound. The London Mets won the second game convincingly once again with a score of 15-1 and they certainly look like one of the favourites in the Under-14 League this year.
Next up for the youngsters from Hertfordshire is a home game on Saturday, 19 May, with the Leicester Blue Sox U14 team visiting Grovehill Ballpark in Hhemel Hempstead for the first time.