The double header between the Herts Hawks and Guildford Mavericks played on Sunday, 19 May, could have been billed as a replay of last season’s playoff quarter-final that saw the Hawks go through to the National Championships. However, with the expansion of the Herts organisation to five adult teams, it was inevitable that the squad to face the Mavericks would not be the same. Despite missing big guns like Louis Hare, Jon Lewys, Nic Goetz, Rod Naghar and Andrew Fullford, among others, the Hawks came out ready for battle and dead set to make a good showing.
Game 1: Guildford 5 – Herts 6
In the first game, Guildford were able to take an early lead, chipping away and getting a couple of runs in the first 2 innings, Nick Russell gaining more control as the game went on and limited the Mavericks well. The Mavericks pitcher was dominant, and whilst allowing 2 base runners through 4 innings was able to keep Herts to no runs. In the 5th, Herts were able to get 4 runs on the board with Tim Elkins and Ilya Dimitrov coming around before Hunter Devine and Andy Cornish (1RBI) crossed the plate on a 2 RBI hit from John Kjorstad. With the score 5-4 in the bottom of the 7th, with 2 down, Herts brought the house down with a walk off single from Hunter Devine (3RBI’s on the day) between the first and second baseman, scoring Elkins and Dimitrov again. The Herts players went crazy, with celebrations similar to those seen in the playoffs.
Game 2: Guildford 12 – Herts 1
After the elation for the Hawks in the first game, the second game went more to form, with Guildford keeping their tight defence and good pitching that they have become known for. Nick Russell continued on the mound before having to be removed due to the regulation on innings pitched. Herts eventually turned to Andrew Slater, the giant of a man to get outs that had eluded Jose Morillo Jr and Andy Cornish, but by this time it was too late and Guildford had racked up 7 runs in the inning. Herts were able to score a single run in the game. Although disappointing, there was a silver lining in Slater proving once again his ability to throw strikes and get outs, staking a claim for more mound appearances.
After the game, one of Hawk’s co-managers, Andy Cornish, commented: “I think that we should be very happy with the first game. Elkins in particular had very strong at bats, taking pitches, battling off the ones he didn’t want, which set him and the team up for a nail biting finish. The second game was a bit of a let down. I think that after a few experiments on the mound, we found a good pitcher in Andy Slater and he kept the run count down. We are still learning as a team and these games have answered a few questions. I hope that in the next games we continue to develop and can emulate some of the wonders and excitement from today’s first game.” The reaction of the other Hawk’s manager, Greg Bochan, (who had to leave at the start of the second game) to the final outcome was: “Jeez… Well, OK.” This pretty much summed it up.