written by Cristobal Hiche
NBL (Game 1) Herts Falcons 9 Bracknell Blazers 1 (click to view box scores)
And they’re back! There are no words to describe the feeling of this weekend in which finally fans didn’t have to bite their fingernails. Herts Falcons finally looked like the hitting team of last year but even better, because the pitching was once again exceptional. It’s becoming a routine and this reporter might continue writing about other aspects of the game throughout the season, but the entire pitching staff has just been superb and carrying this team to the top position in the league. Game 1 was again dominated by Robbie Unsell who threw a complete 1-hitter game. The only run came by two errors in the bottom of the 2nd. After that, defence was perfect and Robbie was able to cruise to the end not allowing any walks throughout the game. Offence was back with two early runs in the top of the 1st and then slowly building the gap. Although Blazers were keeping it close not allowing runs in the 3rd and 4th inning (3-1), Falcons bats decided to wake up and score in the last 3 innings to win 9-1. It’s hard to say who had the best hitting performance of the game when everybody was hitting but Jordan Farkas continues to be ‘hot-like-a-jalapeno’ (going 3-5).
NBL (Game 2) Herts Falcons 13 Bracknell Blazers 1 (click to view box scores)
The question before Game 2 among fans, and in the press box, was to know if Falcons would carry with the momentum from Game 1 or if the bats would go to a ‘siesta’ (nap) as it has been the norm this year. Fortunately it was a ‘fiesta’ (party) rather than a ‘siesta’. The bats were in full swing and by the top of the 3rd it was already 5-0. On my pre-game interview with starting pitcher, Michael Osborn, he told me his arm wasn’t feeling great and you could see from the press box, he was moving his arm with some sort of discomfort in the dugout after the 1st. Well, that shows how great he has been this year because even not feeling 100% he managed to allow only 1 run in 5 innings, striking out 5 and keeping Blazers on bay. Like Game 1, everybody was hitting well and in typical Herts fashion slowly building a gap. However, Cristobal Hiche KO’d Blazers with a grand slam in the top of the 5th to seal the game and leave the score 10-1. It was a bomb to right field on a knuckleball that just danced around the middle of the plate. But they weren’t done and in the top of the 7th they scored another 3 runs even though Blazers decided to focus on auditioning new relievers. They went through 3 different pitchers in the 7th.
The manager for the Blazers was not available for comments after the game but Lee Manning was very happy after the game. He summarised the day by saying: “Defence played great bingo and offence brought the bango. All four pitchers hit their spots and kept Blazers at bay. Very happy with the results and we are hoping to keep the momentum going until the end of the season”. He also finished with the remark that “…finally it’s the first week we haven’t had a player injured”.
So far this report has been full of praise for the Falcons (deserved), but let’s not forget that Bracknell played well and are a talented team. They made a few errors and it looks like inexperience was a key in these games. With many GB juniors in their squad, it’s a team to look out for in the future and even for the rest of the season. Unfortunately they just faced an inspired Falcons team who are determined to take the top spot in the table.
It’s no coincidence that besides the absence of Dave Tretheway and Dave Westfallen (DL), Falcons finally had a full squad. Having Ryan Bird back in the middle of the lineup is a big boost because it brings the big bat that’s needed. It also offers more protection for Jordan and Darrin who should see more fastballs. Also, this means the rest of the lineup is hitting more relaxed which in turn makes everybody more dangerous at the plate. The relaxed attitude seen from the press box throughout the day was even more visible than in previous weeks even though some players argued laughter brings wrinkles. This team is a bit odd because the more relaxed this team looks (to the point it looks they don’t even care about the score and who wins), the better they perform. That’s what was seen in 2012 and this is what was seen this Sunday. It’s exciting time for every fan and they’re showing it. The fans are even turning to away games to support Falcons and the team is really welcoming it. Keep the support and those who haven’t been able to go often, please do because you’ll see some great Bingo Bango baseball!!!