Eagles battle hard but go down in Milton Keynes

Eagles 16 MK Coyotes 34, BBF Single-A League

written by Duncan Hoyle

Herts Eagles were on the wrong end of a 34 – 16 scoreline at MK Coyotes on opening day, but can still take many positives from the game.

The Eagles have a completely new look about them in 2013, with several players now having moved up the Herts organisation. Only 2 players remained in the starting lineup from last seasons opening day, and it was last season’s joint Single-A Home Run Champion Adrian Smithers who got the Eagles off to a good start with a line drive to left field in the first at bat of the game. He would get in to score, along with returning catcher Geoffrey Thomas to start the ball rolling in the top of the first.

On the mound was manager Duncan Hoyle, making his first BBF league pitching appearance. Despite getting a number of first pitches in the strike zone, he wasn’t able to capitalize on this and after the end of the first MK had opened up at 6 – 2 lead, the Eagles being punished for a number of errors. But they responded superbly in the second to tie the game at 6 all, helped by 2 RBIs from Mike Cresswell and newcomer Jamie Lang, and some superb catching in left field from Will Belbin.

Manny Banson and Jamie Lang are just two of the many players who made their league debut on Sunday

At the mid point of the 3rd Herts had opened up a 9 – 6 lead but once again, made errors in the 3rd that got punished, and with Hoyle’s arm now beginning to tire MK score 9 times to lead 15 – 9.

Simon Roberts came in to pitch in the 4th, along with DH Adrian Smithers who moved to catcher. Roberts couldn’t find the strike zone with any regular accuracy, pitching all around the edges but not inside. MK went on to score heavily in the 4th and 5th and the Eagles batting had now ran out of steam with only 1 run being scored in the 5th and 6th.

Jamie Lang came on to pitch the 6th for the Eagles and he will be delighted to have secured his first strike out and to only concede 3 runs in his first attempt at pitching. Herts rallied well in the 7th to try to avoid a defeat on the “mercy-rule” but despite loading the bases could only score once.

The Eagles had a completely new look about them, with the vast majority of the squad beginning their first full season in baseball. Notable performances included a superb performance at 1st base from Dan Bartram, who in only his second week of playing the game looks to be a great signing, good performances in the infield from Mike Cresswell, Jamie Lang and Tom Kosak at 3rd, the latter two who were both making their first league starts. Adrian Smithers had a great game with 4 hits, 3 runs scored and looked good at catcher.

The ever dependable Will Belbin had a solid game at left field and 1st, with some solid hitting, 15 year old Adam Landau Smithers did all that could have been asked of him at centerfield with a good catch and 3 runs scored. Club favourite Manny Banson made his debut and scored to get his account opened with the club, and also debuts were given to Dans brother Andy Bartram, and James Holt in the closing stages to leave the Eagles with many positives to take from the day, and a great platform to build upon in 2013.

A special mention should be given to Joseph Osborne-Brade, who suffered a horrendous injury in the Hunlock Series, and instead of feeling sorry for himself has remained positive while he regains his fitness and has taken up the role of base coach, scorer and assistant to manager Duncan Hoyle and his presence has no doubt helped the Eagles make some excellent early season progress with their. Base-running game.