The London Metros picked up two comfortable wins against the Herts Ravens in the British AAA League. In both games of the doubleheader the Ravens kept up with the pace of the Metros up to the fourth inning and were very much in the game, but devastating batting display by the team from the capital in the fifth and sixth innings took the games beyond the reach of the Ravens.
The Metros had the luxury of their NBL team resting this weekend and were able to call upon the services of two of their NBL starting pitchers. Ordinarily, under the league rules NBL pitchers would not be able to pitch in the lower leagues, however by virtue of the fact that the London Mets had played only two league games so far, pitchers who have pitched less than 14 innings for the London Mets in the NBL were able to pitch in this AAA league game. Right-hander Pietro Sollecito gave Herts a concoction of breaking pitches mixed with a change of speed which the visitors were not able to cope with. Sollecito allowed only 4 hits in 5 innings. Carlos Casal, Carlos Velazco-Carus and Dave Westfallen seemed most likely to make solid contact with his pitches and they did produce 3 of the 4 hits. In the bottom half of the innings the Metros always seemed to threaten, even in innings when they were not able to score any runs.
Jonathan Cramman, the other member of the London Mets (NBL) pitching staff, started on the mound in game two. He also allowed only 4 Herts hits over 6 innings of work. 3 of those hits came in the fourth inning which put the Ravens right back in the game with the score 3-2 to the Metros, but once again London’s bats came alive in the last few innings of the game to complete a deserved 12-2 win.
Seth Lipstock made his first appearance of the season for the Ravens and he showed why he was one of the top performers for the Herts Hawks last season in what was the defensive play of the day. With 1 out Lipstock made a spectacular flyball catch in left field and then threw the ball all the way to home plate on a frozen rope straight into the glove of catcher Jake Caress to apply the tag on the helmet of the oncoming London player who was trying to score on the sacrifice fly. The runner managed to make contact with home plate just before the tag was applied, but that didn’t take away from the impressive throw which fans would expect to see from outfielders like Ichiro or Jeff Francoeur, but not in a AAA League game.
“We couldn’t have asked for any more from our pitchers Mike Cattermole ad Carlos Velazco-Carus. We just couldn’t produce offensively to keep us in the games” said Herts Ravens Manager, Carlos Casal at the end of the day. He added “Despite the heavy defeats, the score does not tell the full story of these games. There were many positives and my players performed very well”.
With four defeats in the opening four games of the season, this is not the ideal start for the Ravens, but the Hawks had a similarly difficult start last year and ended up in the AA-League postseason and the national semi-finals. The team will certainly stay positive in the knowledge that over these first four games they had to field two very different teams due to player injuries and unavailability. When players like Jon Lewys, Louis Hare, Nic Goetz, Pete Kikel and Rod Naghar – all with previous NBL experience – make their first appearance of the season, the Herts Ravens are expected to be in much better position to compete against the big guns of the AAA League.