The Herts Red Roosters won the 2012 Hunlock Series by the smallest possible margin in what proved to be the closest race in the history of the Series with just 1 game separating all four teams.
RED WINGS OUTHUSTLED
The day started with an exhibition game of softball as part of Herts Baseball Club’s efforts to build the first softball programme in the region. The game saw the Herts Hustlers overcome the Herts Red Wings. The game featured an equal number of male and female players from beginners to seasoned professionals. With around 20 players taking part and a growing mailing list of interested players the club will be looking at the next steps in the project and how to take the project to the next stage of establishing formal teams and eventually a league. For more details about getting into softball with Herts contact the club.
Minutes before the first Hunlock Series games of the day, the teams confirmed their free agent picks. Last-placed White Lightning were waiting until the last second for confirmation on the availability of Matt Spaulding, however in his absence they used their turn wisely picking 23-year old former Minnesota Twins prospect, Xavier Gonzalez. Blue Dogs selected new recruit, Serge Plata, who now lives in Hertford having arrived from Texas. Red Roosters picked the final available free agent, John Jansson.
White Lightning began the day with a record of no wins and five losses. They couldn’t reverse the 14-8 deficit in the suspended game versus the Red Roosters from last week, as Rooster’s closing pitcher and manager Ken Pike shut the door in the final inning. This didn’t deter the Lightning. The team was almost back to full strength. Dave Tretheway, Ryan Bird and free agent, Xavier Gonzalez, in addition to the teams existing squad, turned them into a formidable force perfectly-built for the “9th inning game” format of the final day of the competition.
They quickly picked up 3 wins against the Blue Dogs. This included a home run by Dave Tretheway which lfew over the rightfield wall of the old diamond. They followed this with 2 wins against the Roosters. It seemed like the unlikeliest of comebacks could become possible. A key moment came in the third game against the Roosters when Lightning had a runner on first and second base with no outs. A pop-up in the infield was correctly called as an infield fly by umpire Gabor Erdos, but the runners decided to take a risk and tried to advance. Both runners were caught in rundowns and tagged out to end the inning with a very rare triple play. Ken Pike was driven home in the bottom of the inning for a walk-off win to halt White Lightning’s ascendancy. That was a temporary hiccup as the men in white went on unbeaten in their next three games against Black Widows. However, crucially, the Black Widows who were missing their older players and could count only on their U17 players, showed the composure of MLB veterans playing good defence to record two 0-0 ties out of these three games. This was an almighty tussle which proved to be costly for both teams as they essentially knocked each other out of contention.
It was now between the Blue Dogs and the Red Roosters who fittingly met in the final matchup of the Series on the new diamond. They each took a win in the first two games, so it came down to the final game. The Roosters had the advantage as they went into the game with a ½ game lead in the standings, so a tie was going to be sufficient to win the Series. With the winning run on third base for the Blue Dogs, Red Roosters’ second baseman, John Jansson, got the final out to clinch the title for the Roosters. They won it by ½ a game ahead of the Blue Dogs and Black Widows, with the White Lightning in fourth just 1 game back.
Roosters Manager Ken Pike paid a tribute to his players and to all the teams involved with a special mention for the injured, Joseph Osborne-Brade, who was in everyone’s thoughts today.
The winter period has now begun for Herts Baseball Club. A critical period for planning, recruiting and building for next season and beyond. Coaches, players, volunteers and front office staff in terested to be part of Herts Baseball in 2013 can contact the club at any time.