Eagles comeback in the bottom of the ninth with 2 outs to go top of the league

MK Coyotes 19 Herts Eagles 20

Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead

written by Duncan Hoyle

MK Coyotes were the visitors to face the Herts Eagles on a warm and sunny day at Grovehill.

With little more than a month of the BBF Single A season gone, already the impressive Coyotes were looking to pull away at the top of Pool A, helped by an opening day win over the Eagles and a hard fought victory last Sunday against the Herts Raptors.

The Eagles were handed a pre-game boost however, with the news that the AA Hawks had no game in their already disrupted season. This meant that several Hawks were eager to drop down to play for the Eagles to get in some much needed game time. Manager Duncan Hoyle had no hesitation in taking advantage of this, with Andrew Slater, Ilya Dimitrov and Kal Dimitrov inserted into the Eagles starting lineup.

And it was former Raptors manager Andrew Slater who took the mound for pitching duties, up against MK’s John Suk, Suk already with 2 pitching wins to his name this season.

Pitching dominated the early exchanges, both Slater and Suk got into a good rhythm. Defence was well on top and at the end of the 4th the Eagles were 6 – 4 in front. Serge Plata was having a tremendous game at second base for the Eagles, being involved in several tag outs and hitting 5 for 6 during the day.

In the 5th and 6th the Eagles were able to build up their lead, increasing the advantage to 15 – 6 at the end of the 7th, coming within 1 run of forcing the mercy rule win.

However the determined Coyotes always looked capable of hitting their way back into the game, and with Slaters arm now tiring he came out of the game with no outs and the bases loaded in the top of the 8th. Duncan Hoyle came in to relieve and had no time to find his range, as MK started their comeback in agressive fashion. By end of the half inning the Coyotes had scored 10 to edge in front for the first time in the game. The Eagles hit back with 3 to have a 2 run lead going into the 9th.

The Coyotes scored 3 in the top half of the inning to lead by a single. Certainly the Eagles were confident they could score the two require to win but within a couple of minutes the Eagles dug out was in near disbelieving silence as first Slater was grounded out by a tremedous play from short stop and then for the first time on the day Serge Plata failed to make base thanks to a good catch from the Coyotes catcher and manager Mo Hamden.

It really was last chance saloon for the Eagles and with a demorilising defeat now staring them right in the face, Duncan Hoyle turned to feared slugger Adrian Smithers, who had injured himself in the pre-game warm up, to pinch hit with 2 outs and no one on base. With 2 strikes on him he somehow managed to drive a pitch to left field to get himself on first base. Despite being unable to run properly, and with no subs left able to pinch run, he found the strenght to steal 2nd a couple of pitches later and get himself in scoring position. Tom Kosak, who had had a productive day with the bat, was now up to bat and he managed to hit an infield slow roller to get on base and bat Smithers round to 3rd. Kosak stole 2nd base on the next pitch to leave the evergreen Kal Dimitrov in the batters box looking for the vital hit. And Dimitrov was able to make contact to get a hit just over the infield into shallow outfield, leaving just enough time for Smithers to hobble round to score and Kosak to get home to leave the Eagles bench jubilant.