The clash between rivals Herts Falcons and Essex Arrows illustrated just how competitive the NBL is this season and that every team is capable of winning the title. Herts’ superior 8-2 record before today didn’t seem to concern the Essex Arrows whose 6-6 record does not do them justice on today’s showing.
Jordan Farkas missed the games against Croydon a week ago, but he was back as the starting pitcher for Herts in the first game of the doubleheader. He allowed only 2 earned runs striking out 5 over 6 innings. 2-run home runs by both Kevin Niedringhaus and Dave Tretheway spurred the Falcons on putting 5 runs in the second and fifth innings. A single by Ryan Bird in the sixth inning brought another 2 runs in to give the home team some more breathing space. Robbie Unsell relieved Farkas in the final inning to secure a 12-7 win. Unsell is also coming alive offensively. He went 3-4 with two doubles, an RBI, 3 runs and 3 stolen bases.
In game 2 Essex jumped to an early 4-0 lead after 2 errors and 3 hits in the top of the first inning. Three innings later the Arrows had an even bigger lead of 10-2. A solo home run by Ryan Bird in the bottom of the fourth was the wakeup call which the Falcons needed. They followed that up with 2 runs in each of the fifth, sixth and seventh inning. That burst by the Falcons included 2 singles by Dave House and two doubles by Cristobal Hiche. When Ryan Bird stepped up for his fourth at bat of the game he was looking for a triple to complete the cycle. He did produce another hit but it was a single. This late surge by Herts closed the gap but the league-leaders ran out of time. Essex won it 13-9. This loss means that the reigning champions, Harlow Nationals, overtake Herts at the top of the standings after they swept Bracknell.
5 GAMES AT GROVEHILL NEXT SUNDAY, JUNE 3
With the Nationals resting next weekend, the Falcons will have a chance to go joint-top if they can win their next game against Bracknell which will be played at Grovehill Ballpark and will be part of an exciting day of baseball in Hertfordshire. Both Bracknell and Herts will each play an additional exhibition game against the Great Britain U19 National Team later that day, while on the other diamond the Herts Hawks will clash against the Essex RedBacks in a AA League matchup between the second and third-placed teams. Here is the full order of play:
11:00, Herts Falcons @ Bracknell Blazers (NBL)
12:00, Essex RedBacks II @ Herts Hawks (AA League)
13:30, GB U19 National Team @ Bracknell Blazers (exhibition game)
14:30, Essex RedBacks II @ Herts Hawks (AA League)
16:00, Herts Falcons @ GB U19 National Team (exhibition game)
Venue: Grovehill Ballpark, Herts (click for address and directions). Admission is free.