While the Herts Falcons and the Harlow Nationals locked horns and shared the spoils in the biggest game of the season so far, the Southampton Mustangs took full advantage with two wins against the Essex Arrows. They now stand on top of the NBL. The Nationals are one game back while the Falcons are one and a half games behind.
This means that for the Herts Falcons the next game becomes even bigger than last Sunday’s showdown as Southampton makes the trip to Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead this Sunday, 17 June. Two wins for Herts in this upcoming doubleheader would put them above the league leaders in the standings.
The two teams met on the south coast on the second weekend of the season. Southampton won game one 7-5 while the Falcons won game two 7-3. Since then the Mustangs have been the best team in Great Britain winning 11 out of their 12 games. This incredible run wasn’t given the publicity it deserved. Although they have reached the playoffs in the last two seasons, they have not been ranked as one of the favourites to win the NBL championship. They sit on top of the league and are now seen by many to be a genuine title-contender.
This Sunday Southampton’s probable starters are Gary Davison and Alberto Rodriguez. For the Falcons it is impossible to even guess who is likely to start on the mound. Manager, Lee Manning kept the Nationals guessing revealing his starting pitchers just seconds before first pitch and once again he chose a starting rotation completely different from previous games. 2011 NBL Best Pitcher Robbie Unsell started game one and Darrin Ward started game two.
The Mustangs have the NBL homerun leader Marius Urbanavicius who already has 3 home runs this season. The Falcons added two new players to the list of home run hitters as Mike Osborn and Cris Hiche went deep against the Nationals. Herts now have 6 players with home runs – Bird (2), Clark (1), Hiche (1), Niedringhaus (1), Osborn (1), Tretheway (1) – which is the highest among all NBL teams, tied with the London Mets who also have 6 players with home runs to their name this year.
AND THEN THERE WERE 4…OR 6 EVEN
While Harlow, Herts and Southampton trade blows at the top, the London Mets have been quietly catching up and they are now just two games behind the leaders. Essex and Lakenheath may be a few games further behind but they are still very much involved in the title race. This makes it 6 teams with genuine title hopes making it one of the most exciting seasons in recent years.
But without any doubt all eyes will be on Grovehill Ballpark this Sunday, 17 June, for the Falcons vs Mustangs clash. First pitch 12:00pm.