The Herts Harriers opened their 2013 season in the BBF U17 League against the most difficult of opponents. The London Mets have won the U17 national championship in 2 out of the last 3 seasons and are expected to be one of the main contenders again this year.
Tom Everex-Armstrong started strongly on the mound for Herts maintaining a 2-1 lead going into the third inning, however he appeared to pull a back muscle during one of his deliveries and that took him out of the game. Brodie Caress came in relief and he did well allowing only one earned run, however a series of errors proved to be costly. The Mets took full advantage and took a 7-2 lead.
With a very accomplished pitcher like Taichi on the mound for the visitors from London, this game seemed out of reach for Herts, but they received the boost they needed. Charlie Mayhew led-off the inning and he put up a major fight against Taichi. He managed to get on base with a walk after an epic 11-pitch at bat. From the 11 pitches he saw 8 were with two strikes against him, but he kept fighting off the pitches. A simple walk very rarely brings a team back from a 5-run deficit, but it was the nature of the walk that did it for Herts. The Harriers were back in the game. The players were no longer sitting in desolation. Everyone was up on the dugout fence cheering on the next batter.
That walk led to 5 Herts runs to tie the game 7-7. The Harriers took that momentum into the next inning and took a 9-7 lead going into the last inning. The Mets responded taking a 10-9 lead. In the bottom of that final inning Conner Brown worked a walk and stole his way to third base. Jonny Compton-Weight drove him in to take the game into extra innings with the score 10-10.
Herts Manager, Cris Hiche, had a difficult decision to make. Should he utilise the pitchers he had reserved for the second game of this double-header which would almost certainly have resulted in a loss in game two, or should he save those pitchers for game two and try to win game one in extra innings with less experienced pitchers? Not an easy decision to make. At the end Hiche decided to choose the second option and the gamble didn’t pay off for Herts. The Mets scored 14 runs in extra innings. It must be said that they deserved the win outhitting Herts (9-5), committing less errors (4-5) and allowing less walks (11-17). They also did it with only 8 players.
The weather was becoming worse and the teams and officials agreed to postpone game two, and it is to be rescheduled later in the season. If Cris Hiche had known this, he would have undoubtedly used the starting pitcher designated for game two and the outcome of the game may have been different.
A wild game of baseball which generated a lot of excitement for the spectators and gave us a taste of what can be expected this year. One thing is certain – Herts are firmly in the title-race this season.