by Glen Downer
After another week of rain threatening to cause yet another postponement on Sunday, the Great British weather showed some mercy and after the sterling efforts of the players from both the Raptors and Hawks teams armed with sponges and buckets both diamonds were ready to have their basepaths pounded.
This was to be possibly the most important game in the Raptors’ season so far; clinging on to a one game over .500 record this was a must win, and it wasn’t going to be easy over the experienced veterans that make up the Old Timers team from Enfield. The Raptors were at full strength, and the ever consistent ZackLongboy was on the hill to start, hoping to continue his great season so far. The first inning started as well as any team could hope for, a quick 1-2-3 and the boys were back in the dugout, ready to pick up the bats and produce some run support for their pitcher. After a quick first out Ken Pike stepped up to the plate and picked up his first of no less than 6 hits in the game smashing a rocket into left, then stepped up Gilberto Medina, never being one to hang around Gil swung at the first pitch and the crack of the bat was the sound of impending doom for the Old Timers starter as the ball sailed majestically into left centre field and over the fence for Medina’s first home run of the season, which some may agree was overdue! The rest of the inning went by pretty quietly and the Raptors entered the second inning all fired up and ready to go.
Unfortunately the second didn’t go as well, with the Old Timers putting up 5 runs to take the lead which they held on to for the majority of the game. A combination of errors from the Raptors and Zack not being quite as controlled as previous outings allowing the visitors to take advantage. Herts still managed to tag on a run of their own in the bottom of the inning however to keep things alive, and so it went for the next few innings with both teams scoring like for like. With the Raptors picking up hits and getting on base, singles from John Kjorstadt, Jose Morillo Jr, a scorching double into right centre from catcher Ben Marques, and with Jake Caress taking the mound in a solid relief all helped to keep that scoreline close.
So came the bottom of the 8th; with their chances running low and the deficit at 5 runs, the most it had been all game, the Herts boys had to get something going. They didn’t disappoint with Ken Pike picking up his 6th and final hit to complete a fantastic 6-6 day, Gilberto Medina hitting another bomb which agonisingly ricocheted off the outfield wall for a huge double plating two runs, the Raptors rallied to score no less than 7 runs to take a slim 2 run lead heading into the top of the 9th. Jake Caress who had come into the game in relief had a tough job on his hands to close out the game and pick up a much needed win, he didn’t disappoint. The first batter smashed a drive into left field where ZackLongboy was just unable to snag it, however with some quick footwork and an absolute rocket straight into the glove of Gilberto Medina he applied the tag as the batter tried to stretch out a double and the first out was made. Pumped up from this great play, Jake went on to strike out the second batter and the Old Timers were down to their last out. With the count at 2-2 the batter hit a chopper straight to Caress who duly tossed the ball over to the waiting glove of first baseman Glen Downer and the final out was made to seal a great win.
The Raptors now go into the final two games of the season needing to pick up two wins to have a chance at post-season play. The pressure is on, let’s hope this momentum can be carried right up to the end!