The British Baseball Federation’s U17 playoffs took place at Grovehill Ballpark, Hertfordshire, on one of probably the only three good-weather days of this year so-far. These playoffs traditionally feature the best of young talent in British baseball, and this proved to be the case again this year.
In the first game of the day, Herts U17 faced the Forest Glade Redbacks, in an encounter that should have been a much more even-keeled affair than the final score suggested. Partly, this may have been due to a tactical gamble by the Forest Glade management not to start with their hardest-throwing pitcher available, and partly it was due to Herts’ unremitting ability to put bat on ball, or, most likely, on the cool and collected performance of Herts’ pitcher, Marty Cullen Jr., who was on the mound from start to finish, allowing a single hit in the last inning to break a no-hitter. The Redbacks pitchers gave a good account of themselves, and gave up relatively few walks, but were unable to keep the Herts’ bats leashed. The offensive highlights included a 3-run jack to left-centre field by Liam Green, who went 4-for-4 and was only lacking a triple for the cycle, and Tom Everex-Armstrong with 4, and Kieran Manning, with 3 RBI’s in the game. The game finished Herts 23 Forest Glade Redbacks 0.
After the flush of the win, Herts had to face pretty much everybody’s favourites for this year’s title – the London Mets. Zack Longboy started on the mound for Herts and gave a creditable performance, allowing only 3 earned runs in 3 and 2/3 innings to the hard-hitting Mets lineup. However, good hitting combined with some errors allowed the London team to gradually build a lead, which, by the 4th inning was a respectable 7 runs. This was sufficient for the Mets starter, Kazuma, who went 4 and 1/3 innings, with 7 strikeouts and allowing only a single earned run. The Mets then switched their hard-hitting short stop with the pitcher, and he closed the game, throwing a couple of strikeouts in the bargain, putting the Mets through to the Semi-Final in the Lake District next week. The game ended London Mets 13 Herts 2
The third game of the U17 playoffs pitched the highly touted Horsham Hornets against the Cobham Cougars. This proved to be the most competitive game on the day, with a number of exciting plays, good pitching and defensive plays. Despite a depleted squad, the Cobham Cougars were able to book their place for the finals next week with a 4 to 3 win.