Mets unbeaten run ended by Falcons. The NBL race tightens.

Robbie Unsell about to unleash his breaking ball against the London Mets (photo by Joe Gray)

written by Cristobal Hiche

Déjà vu. That’s probably what every fan is thinking because for the 3rd weekend in a row both games have been decided in the last inning. This is becoming the trend but the good news for Herts fans is that the Falcons are coming on top and winning these close games.

Game 1 was almost a repeat of last week as Robbie Unsell was throwing another gem and keeping a shutout through the first six innings. Knowing pitcher Pietro Sollecito dominated Falcons last time, Mets manager Erick Hanson was smart to start him again. He was delivering, just allowing 2 runs in 6 innings. However, this time around, Pietro wasn’t getting the run support and ultimately ended up on the losing side. Jordan Farkas was on fire going 3-3 but Falcons couldn’t get more “insurance runs”. Mets hitters were determined not to remain scoreless and in the top of the 7th they managed to tie the score thanks to some timely hitting and an unusual error by the Herts defence which has been solid all year. The big difference seen this time was the determination of all Falcons players to come back and ensure that this game didn’t go to extra-innings and they didn’t disappoint. Dave House, who also was on fire at the plate, delivered a line drive, RBI and game-winning single to end the game and hand the first loss of the season for the Mets.

The second game was no different and Michael Osborn was throwing a nasty curveball and using his fastball to second guess each Mets player. Herts hitters were starting to show the solid hitting performance of last year and managed to score runs in the first 2 innings. However, Mets did some small adjustments and did quiet down the Falcons, but also with the help of the defence as Jonathon Cramman threw Cristobal Hiche out on a bang-bang play at home trying to score from 2nd on a single. On the other side, although pitcher Michael Osborn was pretty much single-handedly beating the Mets, it also got great defence behind. The highlight was an amazing diving catch by Dave House at third base after a laser beam to his left side. Going into the 6th the score was once again 2-0 for the Falcons and it looked like a repeat of the previous game, especially as the Mets finally managed to do some damage and score a run. Yet again Falcons showed that determination seen in the bottom of the 7th in game 1 to score 2 runs to try and close the game. Mets were not ready to give up and were able to manufacture a run with some hits and being aggressive on the bases. Unfortunately it was too little, too late and Falcons got the win with a final score of 4-2.

Falcons manager Lee Manning said after the game: “Fantastic pitching, fantastic defence, good timely hitting again. Really happy for both wins”. He was really full of praise for both his starters (Robbie and Michael) and also had a few words for reliever Jordan Farkas: “In Game 1 when they tied up in the 7th inning, Jordan came in…I was really impressed with the way he managed to hold them, especially when I put them in a bad situation [with men in scoring position]”. On the other side of the field, manager Erick Hanson wasn’t happy about the losses but he had the following to say: “We knew coming to Herts we would have two tough games today, they came out and did the small things to win the games. Game 1 was a close game and could have gone either way”. Reflecting on the positives of the day he said: “We’ve been fortunate to be winning a lot so it’s nice to get these losses out of the way, regroup, and learn what we need to do in training to get better”.

The only bad news for the Falcons is that Dave Westfallen might have re-injured his knee and might be added to the now long list of players on the DL. Although this is another heavy loss, manager Lee Manning sees the positive side and said: “It’s a terrible loss but let’s hope it’s nothing serious and he can be ready for the playoffs. This being said, we now know we can call up AAA players and can perform to very high standards”.

I have been saying it for the last two weeks and I’ll repeat it again, this is quality baseball not only by the Falcons but by most teams in the NBL. Every game is going to be close with great pitching, good hitting, and fantastic defence. Just as an example, only 2 errors were made in the 2nd game by both teams combined! That’s MLB level right there. Just take a look at the box score and replace the Falcons name with the Yankees and you would think this box score was taken out from the MLB subway series (i.e. Yankees-Mets rivalry). So come down to the ballpark and check out the Falcons next time!