The Herts Hawks are through to the next round of the AA Playoffs. The convincing victory over the Southampton Mustangs was achieved with another solid defensive performance and a display of power-hitting which is coming at the right time.
Nick Russell started on the mound for the home team. He has had an outstanding season winning all of his starts (4-0) and in all of these games he went the distance. But even he is allowed a few postseason nerves. Two walks and two hits gave the Mustangs an early lead in the top of the first. Two fielding errors by his teammates in that opening inning didn’t help and the Hawks found themselves trailing 3-0. Sometimes conceding 3 runs in a low-scoring postseason game can prove to be too much to overcome so the Hawks needed to respond quickly.
They exploded with 7 runs in the bottom of the first inning which included a 2-run homerun by co-manager, Andy Cornish, over the left-centerfield wall.
Any anxiety which Herts may have had was no longer there from that point forward. Nick Russell was on his brilliant best for the rest of the game which he completed allowing only 1 more run to score.
Everyone in the Herts batting lineup contributed offensively to record the team’s highest-scoring win of the season. Rod Naghar (2-3 2B), Greg Bochan (3-5 4RBI), Louis Hare, (2-4 RBI) all had a multi-hit game. Jonathan Lewys had 4 RBI (1-4), but it was Andrew Fulford who was the outstanding batter for the Hawks. He hit 4-for-4 which included a double and a home run which went out of the park close to the left field foul pole interrupting the Herts Falcons vs Milton Keynes Bucks exhibition game taking place on the adjacent diamond.
“In my final at bat I was trying to hit a triple to complete the cycle, but had to hold up at first base for a single” said Fulford, who had another good defensive performance as catcher. He threw out another runner at second and over the season has had a 60% success rate of throwing our runners.
The final score of 28-4 was probably a little unkind on the visitors, who deserve a lot of credit for giving 100% effort right to the end.
Hawks co-manager, Andy Cornish, said: “I think that today we played well. We still have a lot to do, and every game is now a cup game. We look forward to playing in the next round and I really think that we can build on today’s batting performance, and give any team a tough game”.
At the time of writing this report results from the other three Playoff games were still coming in. The Guildford Mavericks beat the Daws Hill Spitfires 12-4. Poole Piranhas eliminated the London Mammoths 11-1. The Sidewinders game versus the Croydon Pirates was still in progress and the outcome of that game will determine whether the Hawks will meet Guildford or Poole in the quarter-finals. The Sidewinders are the team in form and if they win then Herts will play against the favourites Guildford this Sunday, 19 August. We will announce the details as soon as the quarter-final lineup is confirmed.