Herts Eagles 40-23 Essex Redbacks III, Forest Glade, Sunday 19th May
The Eagles travelled to the Essex Redbacks on Sunday with hopes high that they could build on the walk-off win over the Raptors. Both teams went into the game with 1-2 records, and all to play for.
It started well enough for Herts as the Eagles bats got to work. Mike Cresswell hit his first double of the day, while Will Belbin also picked straight up where he had left off the week before, and drove in a run. The Eagles batted one to nine, and scored four runs.
But once again they made life hard for themselves in the field in the first inning. Serge Plata was starting on the mound, and while the Redbacks showed little sign that they could handle his looping curveballs, they reached base on errors and the shortest of infield hits. Plata was also having trouble getting into the strike zone, so patience at the plate helped the Essex side to six walks and ten runs.
Manager Duncan Hoyle had taken over pitching duties to get out of the inning and he confidently reminded his troops that they were capable of scoring runs, and of defending much better. He helped to show the way with 3 hits and 4 RBIs, as well as striking out three batters. The Eagles tightened up their fielding to hold the home side scoreless in the bottom of the second inning, and the game was now tied at 10-10.
The Redbacks manager Dave Jesshop had started solidly on the mound but the Herts batters had now sized him up and began to show their prowess at the plate. There were hits for left-fielder Jamie Lang, third baseman Tomasz Kosak, and slugging catcher Adrian Smithers.
Aggressive base running was also helping to keep the score ticking over — Adam Landau-Smithers stole six bases on the day, including a steal of home, and he scored five runs. The third inning broke the back of the game. Herts had scored 18 runs in all and led 28-14 once Essex had replied.
However, the win over the Raptors showed that even a big lead could be overcome and the Eagles sideline was staying focused on the task. Rob Jones led off the fourth inning with a booming double to left field, while Serge Plata — as well as settling in at shortstop – hit a consistent stream of doubles.
Essex never gave up hope, and continued to add to their total, but were not eating into the Herts lead. By now, the sun had come out at Forest Glade and it was a perfect baseball setting as the Eagles looked to seal the win by the mercy rule.
Mike Cresswell moved from first base to become the closer in the bottom of the seventh. He had added Herts final insurance run in the top of the inning, and now sat down the first two Redbacks he faced. There was then a brief glimpse of life for Essex as runners got aboard. But the mountain to climb was too high and the final out was secured without a run scoring.
The Eagles now move to 2-2 on the season, with an impressive 104 runs scored. Everyone had contributed with the bat or the glove, including the injured Manny Banson who had to be called off the bench to play left field. Duncan Hoyle was full of praise for his players: “They really showed what they can do and deserved the win. We are getting better all the time and there is no need for the Eagles to fear anyone.”