Despite picking up two wins 7 days ago, the Herts Ravens were still languishing in the bottom end of the standings when they travelled to Oxford to face the AAA League leaders. The odds were stacked heavily against the Ravens and not even the most optimistic Herts fans would have predicted the eventual outcome of this Sunday’s doubleheader.
AAA League (Game1) Herts Ravens 6 Oxford Kings 4 (click to view box scores)
Manager Carlos Casal was unable to travel with the team after he aggravated his knee injury in the closing moments of last week’s game with the Leones. He had given his instructions to stand-in manager Louis Hare and one of those instructions was Hare to start on the mound in game 1. His last pitching outing was outstanding securing a 5-2 win against the red-hot Badgers. The team would need a similar performance to stay in the game and Louis Hare did not disappoint. Despite finding himself 4-1 down after 3 innings he shut the Kings out putting zeros in the next 4 innings.
Time was running out and he needed some run-support. It came in the form of a 2-out inside the park home run by shortstop Xavier Gonzalez. That fired up the whole team. In the sixth inning they produced a big rally once again with two outs. Hits from Carlos Velazco-Carus (1-3, 2RBI, SB), Vassil Botev (1-4, SB) and again Xavier Gonzalez (3-4, 3RBI, HR, SB) contributed to a 4-run inning to give Herts a 6-4 lead.
Louis Hare, with solid support from his defence, shut the door on the Kings to secure a very satisfying come-from-behind win.
AAA League (Game2) Herts Ravens 13 Oxford Kings 0 (F/5) (click to view box scores)
17-year-old Liam Green was the starting pitcher for Herts in the second game. The youngster from Hemel Hempstead has grown up with the Herts Baseball organisation from the age of 11 and he is now starting to add control to go along with his very strong arm. One-after-another the Oxford batters struggled to make any kind of solid contact. Any pitches which they managed to put in play were picked up by a Ravens defence which was outstanding the whole day. The team committed only 1 error in the first game of the day and no errors in the second game.
Oxford were also solid defensively committing only 1 error, but a combination of 10 hits and 9 walks cost them as the visitors from Hertfordshire built up a 13-0 lead. Jon Lewys stood out with the bat hitting 3-for-3 with 2 RBI.
Liam Green stayed strong until the end pitching a 2-hitter, complete game shutout. Most importantly he walked only 3, a sign that he is gradually becoming a pitcher rather than just a thrower.
Manager Carlos Casal was kept abreast of events in Oxford and was delighted with the result. “I am very proud of the whole team. Great work. I just wish I was there” said Casal.
The win lifts the Herts Ravens into 6th place in the standings with a 5-9 record. It is still very difficult to imagine that they can turn a nightmare 1-9 start of the season and sneak into the playoff positions, but if they continue to play flawless baseball as they did today, we could be looking at the most amazing comeback in sport.