The Herts Hawks climbed to the top of their AA League Pool with two wins in their doubleheader with the Essex Redbacks.
In game 1 Nick Russell continued his impressive performances on the mound. He pitched a complete game allowing only 1 run which was unearned. His ERA now stands at 2.70. The Herts defence committed only 1 error behind him. They faced the always-effective Redbacks pitcher, Sean Briscomb, who didn’t walk any batters, but despite being kept quite early in the game, the Herts batters managed to drive in the runs they needed to claim the win. Louis Hare was 2-for-3 which included a solo homerun to right-centerfield in the fifth. The Hawks received a major boost welcoming back Jim Arnott who went 3-for-3. Tim Elkins was also back in the lineup and he also had a good day with 2-for-2.
In game 2 the Hawks’ batting lineup was even more potent. Seth Lipstock hit 5-for-5 with 2 doubles to add to his 2-for-4 hitting performance in the first game. Jon Lewys showed the fearsome power which he can bring to the lineup with 2 doubles, and Andy Cornish also joined the party with a double which almost went over the left-centerfield wall for a home run. Aspi Dimitrov also contributed going 3-for-3. Herts had a comfortable lead throughout the game for starting pitcher Nic Goetz who was pitching another gem. He allowed only 4 hits and one walk, and the RedBacks will be pleased to have driven in two runs with so few base runners to work with all game. Michael Jones drove the two runs for Essex with a stand up double which went all the way to the right-centerfield wall. Those two runs proved to be merely a consolation for Essex as the Hawks ended the game with a final score of 12-2.
The two wins put the Hawks (8-4) tied in first place with the Sidewinders (8-4) and the London Mammoths (8-4) while the Daws Hill Spitfires (5-4) are lurking dangerously behind them. With 3 weeks of the regular season remaining these are the four teams which are virtually confirmed to qualify for the playoffs, however all will be fighting tooth and nail to finish first or second as finishing third or fourth would pair them against the invincible leaders of Pool A, Guildford Mavericks (14-0) and Poole Piranhas (12-1), as well as losing home-field advantage.
To avoid the Mavericks and the Piranhas, the Hawks need to win all of their remaining 4 games and hope that the Sidewinders will slip up in at least one of their remaining games. Next for the Hawks is a trip to the Thames Valley Bisons (6-4) who are currently third and looking for postseason glory of their own.