Herts Eagles 15 Essex Archers 32
written by Duncan Hoyle
Herts Eagles knew they would be up against it when they travelled over to Waltham Forest for their league game against runaway leaders Essex Archers. The Archers have dropped down to Single A despite having an impressive record at AA last season and so far this year have easily won all 5 of their league games.
Despite the forecast in the early part of the week predicting rain all day, gameday turned out to be a dry, humid day. With a number of key players unavailable, the Eagles were forced to play Will Belbin at catcher – a position he hasn’t played since 2010, Senna Ashida moved from left field to 1st base and debutant Mike Cresswell made his debut in right field.
Herts got off to a good start, with Duncan Hoyle hitting a line drive to centre field to bat in Joseph Osborne and Senna Ashida to get the scoreboard ticking over in the first inning. At the end of the 1st the score was 3-2 to the Archers, and with the consistent Theo Scheepers once again putting in another good shift on the pitching mound, the Eagles were able to keep in touch with the Archers in the early exchanges. In the second and third innings, 18 year old Mike Cresswell got his Herts career off to a great start by getting a RBI in the 2nd, and then hitting a drive to right field to bring in another 2 runners in the 3rd. Tak Ashida was looking good at short stop, and Will Belbin was catching confidently. Belbin was letting little get past him but unfortunately injured his finger in the bottom of the 3rd. He was substituted by the versatile Adrian Smithers to avoid any long term damage. Most of the Herts batting lineup were able to get on base one way or another, and were then baserunning confidently to be able to pick up runs regularly.
However, as the game went into the 4th inning, Essex began to show why they are top of the league. Their powerful batting lineup started to get their eye in, and the Herts outfield suffered some long chases as the ball sailed over to the fence on a number of occasions. Despite a couple of great outfield catches from Osborne, the Archers were beginning to get away from the Eagles.
In the middle of the 5th, the score was 14 – 8 to the Archers. Herts then had a half inning they will want to forget as 13 runs were added to the Archers total, as a now tired Herts defence started to let a few errors creep into their game. The Archers made the Eagles pay for these errors ruthlessly, and with their powerful batting line up bossing the game they were even able to hit an inside the park home run.
The Eagles kept giving nothing less than 100%, and kept the runs ticking over. Lefty batters Joseph Osborne and Senna Ashida are both getting a reputation of being able to draw a walk from the pitcher – Osborne in particular is becoming something of an expert in this as in his 6 at bats he found himself on base no less than 5 times from walking. Craig La Roux finally got himself a deserved hit towards the end of the game, and he also made his second pitching appearance of the season to close out the 6th with the Archers having finished their scoring on 32. The Eagles kept on battling right until the end and Senna Ashida and Simon Roberts where able to get round to score in the top of the 7th to take the Eagles run total to a respectable 15. The mercy rule then came into effect, as it has done in every game for the Archers. Despite what on paper looks a heavy loss, Herts will be able to take away some satisfaction from the manner in which they played the game and the fact they scored 15 runs – 1 more than all five previous opponents of the Archers have scored put together.