Raptors come back to win against tough Old Timers

Pitcher Will Zucker was all smiles as he helped his team secure a vital win against one of the favorites in the Single-A League

Herts Raptors 19 Old Timers 18

BBF Single-A League

written by Ken Pike

The Herts Raptors have placed themselves firmly in pole position of the BBF Single A division after a hard fought four hour battle with arch rivals The Old Timers resulted in a thrilling comeback victory.

The team from Enfield visiting Grovehill had taken the early lead as the Herts defence committed a series of errors around the field, plating 2 runs in each of the first innings before the Raptors could bring their bats back to life in the bottom of the second, scoring 3 runs to get back into the game. Young pitcher Zack Longboy was showing a return to form on the mound, which helped keep the scores low, but some messy backup indicated the start of what would be at times a very difficult and painful fight.

A clean third inning for both teams gave signs that the Herts defence had woken up, but five runs in the top of the fourth tired Zack’s arm and put the Old timers in a commanding 6 run lead, with a further 2 added without reply in the fifth.

Another young pitcher had taken the mound for Herts though, and as Will Zucker started to find his stride, and catcher Ken Pike noticed the unhittable nature of the boy’s curve ball, the game’s momentum changed. Will cleaned out the batters in order for the sixth inning at the same time that the Old Timers let tempers fray over an umpiring call. The resultant lapse off concentration and change of pitcher led to the Raptors bat’s suddenly finding traction. Once around the order, 6 runs scored and a couple left on base left another Old Timer pitcher tired while tempers flared even further.

The Raptors, now only 3 runs down, were looking much more composed and took the initiative to come back swinging. Two Old Timer runs in the top of the seventh were answered by four from Herts and only 1 run in it. At this point the simmering tension from the away team boiled over with arguments across the field. The brilliant young Will Zucker boiled over with confidence instead and cleaned out another inning in order before going to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning to sign seal and deliver his demand for the game ball by slamming another double in an inning where six runs would put Herts into the lead for the very first time.

They went into the top of the ninth knowing that keeping the Old Timers to five runs or less would mean guaranteed victory, while even a greater dent could still be overcome in the bottom. However, Zucker’s arm was tiring, and one by one the Old timers started to make their mark on the inning. After several runners got home and no further outs to get into, coach Arnie Longboy made the tough, but correct choice of replacing the young star with seasoned closer Jeff Whitter who came in with a three run lead.

Jeff’s calm and accurate display let only one more runner in before the Herts defence did their jobs taking down the required outs in short succession. Whilst several players had lost count during the inning, some wondered if we had won or would need to go out to bat with a small but dangerous margin to overcome. The rest however knew that they had overcome a team they so loved to beat, and cheered jubilantly knowing that they were now in pole position for the league.

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Stand-out performances from all pitchers garnered special praise from the manager while Short Stop Theo Scheeper’s potent hitting display nailed four hits, including one double and 5 RBIs.

Coach Arnie will be sure to demand that his team bring their best defensive performance much earlier in the game from now on and cut out some of the silly errors that so nearly cost them dear, but he will also be glad to see the offence create 19 runs against a strong defensive team like the Old Timers. The total of 61 runs from two games and a 100% win ratio is certainly the best of starts to the 2013 Raptors season and a stark contrast to the two losses that in the end cost them so dearly last year.