This Sunday, 10 June, Grovehill Ballpark will stage the biggest game of the season so far. The reigning NBL champions, Harlow Nationals, will clash with the Herts Falcons who have been grabbing the headlines this year more than any other team in the country.
The Falcons were on top of the standings a week ago but a loss at home against the Essex Arrows allowed both the Harlow Nationals and the Southampton Mustangs to overtake them. Herts now stand just half a game back.
Sunday’s clash between the Nationals and the Falcons has been eagerly anticipated. It is the first opportunity to see whether the revamped Herts Falcons can overcome the champions. Both teams are well equipped offensively and defensively. The Nats have last year’s league MVP, Edwin Alcantara, and slugger, Maikel Azcuy, both with 1 home run in their name this season. The Falcons have their own firepower with Dave Tretheway, Kevin Niedringhaus, Phil Clark and Ryan Bird already opening their home run accounts for the year and there are several more members of the team who are itching to get off the mark.
Grovehill Ballpark is one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the league and fans will be expecting to see a home run or two this Sunday. However, both teams have strong pitchers who may have other ideas. The Nationals have relied largely on Jamie Ratcliff, Brendan Cunliffe and Roberto Almanzar on the mound and so far they have allowed the lowest number of runs per game in the league (4.30 runs per game). The Falcons have used no fewer than 6 pitchers already and they have the luxury of another 5 pitchers who they can call on, including Darrin Ward who completed his transfer from the Essex Arrows last week.
Who will be the starting pitchers for Herts in these series? Falcons Manager, Lee Manning, has kept the rest of the league on their toes with a different starting rotation every week of the season so far and it will be interesting to see what he will have up his sleeve against the Harlow Nationals.
Defensively Herts have performed much worse compared to Harlow allowing 6.73 runs per game, but it is their batting which has made them one of the frontrunners this year. So far they have obliterated their opponents scoring 10.17 runs per game, which is the highest average in the NBL.
With this match-up so finely-balanced and with so much at stake in the title race, this Sunday’s clash is a mouth-watering prospect for fans of British baseball who can make it to Grovehill Ballpark. The game starts at 12:00pm. Admission is free.