Spirited late Ravens rally not enough

Conner Brown impressed on his Ravens league debut (photo by Will Baxter)

The Ravens may have lost two games in heartbreaking fashion against the visiting Leones de Feltham, but they will be going into their next league games with plenty of optimism.

As their name would suggest, the Leones are a team made up of Latin American players with many years of baseball experience so this doubleheader was always going to be a difficult test for the Ravens. With some of the Ravens’ big guns away, it was good to see the club’s upcoming young talent step up and they didn’t disappoint.

GAME1: Leones de Feltham 8 Herts Ravens 4

Liam Green was the starting pitcher in the first game going 4 1/3 innings with 4 strikeouts and 4 earned runs. It was very positive to see improvement in Green’s control with the number of walks reduced significantly and most of them came at the end of his outing when his arm started to tire.

Moment of controversy - it makes a big difference when a professional photographer is covering the action. The photo appears to prove that umpire Dave Smith made the right decision to call Mike Cattermole safe as his foot seems to have made contact with the edge of home plate just as the ball entered the catcher's glove on a force-play at home plate (photo by Will Baxter)

This was a game where both teams showed some good pitching and defence and the score stayed at 2-2 right up to the fifth inning, but then the visitors opened up a 7-2 lead with a big 5-run fifth inning. Gilberto Medina came in to relieve Green on the mound and he kept Herts in the game allowing only 1 hit and no earned runs in 2 2/3 innings. The team couldn’t take advantage of this and was not able to mount a major come back leaving quite a large number of runners on base (11). Matt Johnston who made his comeback from a hamstring injury, had an outstanding day with the bat (3-4).

Click to view game 1 box scores

GAME2: Leones de Feltham 15 Herts Ravens 13

With Mike Cattermole on the mound for Herts in game two, they got off to a quick start and built up a 7-2 lead after just 2 innings. The heart of the Ravens batting order of Liam Green (2-5 3RBI), Gilberto Medina (3-5 2RBI) and Carlos Casal (2-2) was causing the Leones some real problems. However, the visitors started put up numbers in the next few innings to tie the game at 9-9 in the fifth. They also managed to silence the bats of the Ravens by bringing in their game one starting pitcher. He had pitched 7 innings in game 1 and pitched another 2 in the second game. When he came out for his third inning of game two (10th inning of the day) he threw one pitch at which point Herts Manager, Carlos Casal, referred umpire Dave Smith and the visiting Manager, Andres Maslowski, BBF’s rule 7 (pitching restrictions) which indicates that “If a pitcher pitches in both games of a doubleheader, he/she shall not accumulate more than 9 full innings over 2 games, however distributed (Doubleheader). A pitcher shall be considered to have violated these rules if he throws one pitch in an inning above the prescribed limits.” Under these regulations “The minimum penalty for violating these rules is automatic ejection from the game for the pitcher and his manager”, however the Ravens waived that penalty which allowed both the visiting manager and the pitcher to stay in the game.

By that time the team from Feltham had built a 15-10 lead and the Ravens had one last chance to get back in the game in the bottom of the last inning. 6 Herts players reached base to make the score 15-13 and loaded the bases but the Leones held on and secured the win.

Click to view game 2 box scores

Carlos Casal paid a compliment to his team. “We couldn’t have asked our players for more. A very positive performance giving us lots of optimism for the rest of the season. Several young players made their AAA-League debuts today and it will be exciting to see them develop and grow in the coming years.”

Next up for the Ravens is a visit to Finsbury Park next Sunday, 28 April, where they will meet the London Metros who are 1-3 so far this season but this is after playing against two of the AAA Leagu favourites, Bristol and Oxford, so tis will be a real test for Casal’s team.