The NBL has a new leader. Title race wide open.

Herts game two starter Robbie Unsell pitched a gem allowing only 2 earned runs

written by Cristobal Hiche

A Herts fanatic would try to find many excuses to justify two painful losses suffered this Saturday afternoon in Finsbury Park against the London Mets. The fact is London Mets won two hard fought games with determination.

They led every inning in both games besides the 1st inning of the 1st game because Falcons scored 2 runs in top of the 1st and looked poised for another high scoring Falcons victory. However Mets fought back in the bottom of that opening inning, tied the game, and slowly but surely kept scoring thanks to timely hitting throughout the game. By the 3rd inning it was 8-2 for the Mets. Offensively Herts looked nothing like previous outings but they looked to make a comeback in the 5th with 2 runs. Mets had none of that and scored 5 runs in the bottom of the inning. Herts wouldn’t give up scoring another 3 in the 6th, yet Mets made sure not to give a window of opportunity to mount a rally, and scored another 3 runs in the bottom of the 6th to leave the score 16-7 (final score). Mets manager Erick Henson said: “The Herts team is always a great opponent. We just hit the ball really well. I need to look the stats with more detail but it felt that with even 2 outs and men on base, we were able to bring them in”.

Click to view game 1 stats

The 2nd game was quite the opposite with great pitching from Robbie Unsell and Pietro Sollecito. Although Robbie pitched a great complete game (7 innings) and gave up only 2 earned runs, it was Mets veteran Pietro who stole the show. Not having overpowering pitches and facing the best offensive team in the league, Pietro not only kept Falcons bats quiet but was throwing a perfect game until the top of the 5th and pitched a shutout until the top of the 7th. Up to this point, he just worked both sides of the plate, hitting the corners, and making sure Herts batters hit the pitches he wanted them to hit. Like any great pitching performance, defence also played its part making great catches to some solid hitting by Falcons players.

With the score 4-0 in the top of the 7th and the top of the order coming up, Herts took the approach to score at least 1 run to avoid the shutout for the 1st time in 2 years. This gave them the focus to be aggressive at the plate and on the bases. Before you knew it, it was 4-2 with man on 3rd and 2nd base with 1 out. Herts manager Lee Manning put pinch-hitter Ben Marques for Darrin Ward and Mets manager Erick Henson made the tough decision keeping Pietro on the mound with a reliever ready in the bullpen. Pietro didn’t disappoint his manager and induced the next 2 batters to hit fly balls and keep the runners on base. Great ending for a great game.

Click to view game 2 stats

It’s an unusual outcome for the Falcons who got swept for the 1st time in 2 years and didn’t look sharp all day long. As usual, it’s hard to tell if the loss was a product of the Falcons poor performance or Mets just playing better. Probably it was a combination of both. As manager Lee Manning mentioned in the post-game conference, “We hit very poorly. We didn’t field properly. Our pitching was good”. Regardless, expect 2 very good games next time they meet as the Falcons look to avenge these losses and the Mets try to confirm they didn’t get the Falcons on a poor day but rather they’re the team to beat this year.

These two wins for the Mets take them to the top of the NBL standings with a perfect 4-0 record, while the Falcons (5-3) are now in third place, a game back on the new leaders. Herts rest next week. They return to league action on 19 May as they travel across the county border to play against rivals Essex Arrows (2-4).

Team W L Pct GB GP RF RA
Mets 4 0 1.000 4 39 16
Mustangs 5 1 0.833 6 46 26
Falcons 5 3 0.625 1 8 70 39
Blazers 3 3 0.500 2 6 51 36
Diamondbacks 3 3 0.500 2 6 24 40
Nationals 2 4 0.333 3 6 44 43
Arrows 2 4 0.333 3 6 34 36
Pirates 2 4 0.333 3 6 30 60
Redbacks 2 6 0.250 4 8 41 83