The Herts Falcons opened the 2013 season with two wins in the home doubleheader against the South London Pirates.
GAME 1: FALCONS 11 PIRATES 0 (click to view box scores)
Darrin Ward started on the mound in game one and had a smooth ride allowing only 2 hits and 2 walks over 4 innings. Robbie Unsell came in to close the final inning with 2 strikeouts.
The Falcons had the best offence last season and despite missing several big hitters through injury they still managed to score 11 runs in 4 innings. Robbie Unsell and Xavier Gonzalez contributed with 2 hits and 1 RBI each. Ryan Bird delivered the deadly blows which drained the energy out of the Pirates. He went 3-for-3 with a double and 3 RBIs. Carlos Velazco-Carus made his debut as a substitute for Bird in the final inning and he picked up where Ryan Bird had left with the walk-off 2-run double.
GAME 2: FALCONS 14 PIRATES 4 (click to view box scores)
The Pirates took the lead early in game 2. Jim Farley 2-4 2B(2) and manager Alex von Rosenbach 2-3 RBI (2) led the Pirates rally, but Herts responded quickly. Robbie Unsell continued to wreck opposition defences doing what top lead-off batters do. He went 2-3 with a double 3 RBI and 4 runs adding 5 stolen bases to the 2 he picked up in the first game of the day. Jordan Farkas (3-4 2B 2 RBI) Mike Osborn (2-3 2 RBI), Phil Clark (2-3 RBI) added to the Pirates woes.
Jordan Farkas and Mike Osborn were the pitchers for Herts and although they may feel that they should have allowed less runs, those that were allowed were largely due to uncharacteristic fielding errors (5).
Herts Falcons Manager, Lee Manning, was pleased with the team’s good start of the season. “Our fielding in the first game was very good and Wardy threw a great game. In the second game we put runs on the board in most innings and played solid baseball from start to finish” said Manning. He added “The Pirates have improved massively since last year and they definitely got stronger as the day went on. Hopefully their hard work will pay off soon. British Baseball needs a strong Pirates ballclub.”
The ceremonial first pitch of the 2013 season was thrown by Dave Ward. This was a very fitting tribute to one of the Pirates’ longest serving members who has been the backbone of that organisation over the years.
NEWS FROM AROUND THE LEAGUE
After the end of the game news came in that the reigning champions, Harlow Nationals, shared the spoils in their doubleheader at the Southampton Mustangs. On one hand this gives the Falcons an early 1-game lead over the Nationals who everyone sees as the favourites, but on the other this could be a signal that Southampton may be mounting an even bigger challenge than they have in the last 3 seasons when they reached the postseason but couldn’t quite overcome the eventual winners. Since the end of the game the Mustangs also announced the addition of Czech national team pitcher Tomas Zondra from Hrosi Brno in the Czech top league.
London and Bracknell swept against the Lakenheath Dbacks and the Essex Redbacks, respectively. The Bracknell Blazers are currently leading an online poll asking who will finish top of the NBL and these Opening Day scores seem to justify the confidence of their fans.