by Herts Baseball correspondent Paul Auchterlounie
Rain. Wind. Grovehill Ballpark. The first Saturday of summer.
A typical British baseball day seemingly offered little hope for the U11 Giants and Dodgers this last Saturday 22nd June, and the situation got worse as news came that the U14 Cardinals were short of players for a double header in the league. The result? Mini Baseball!!
A 6 vs 5 game – with coaches fielding in the outfield – started with the Giants batting and Nicholas Durer struck out. Lewis Auchterlounie up next, hitting a pop up down the first base line that was caught by James Dullea. 2 up, 2 down. Batting 3rd was Josh Jones who reached base with a single and advanced to second on a throwing error. Alex Jones moved Josh to 3rd base but Noah Lynch striking out ended the inning with the scoreboard untroubled.
Bottom of the 1st and Dodgers batting. Jonathan Wakelam reached first as Josh Jones fielded the slow dribbler from behind the plate and uncharacteristically threw wide of 1st base. The overthrow allowed Jonathan to advance to 2nd and he was brought home by an RBI single from Rory Vangundy. It was looking ominous for the Giants, 1 run down, 0 outs. Lucas Lebrato then reached with a single. This was followed by 2 quick strikeouts for James Dullea and Thomas Garton before a hit from Noah Haines resulted in a not often seen out as Lucas Lebrato overtook Rory on the base paths, thereby getting himself out. 1-0 Dodgers at the end of 1.
Giants’ coaches were encouraging their players to take advantage of the batting opportunities with the reduced numbers and they did just that in the 2nd inning as the maximum 5 runs crossed the plate, a highlight being Lewis Auchterlounie stroking a stand up line drive double to the outfield fence. All batters except for Noah Lynch reached base putting the ball in play.
However the lead was not to last as the Dodgers did exactly the same as the Giants had just done, crossing the plate 5 times and only 1 out being recorded as James Dullea struck out and Lucas Lebrato showing power with an RBI double. 6-5 after 2.
Into the 3rd and Giants led off with Alex Jones reaching on an error. Noah Lynch struck out again unfortunately, then three straight hits for Nicholas, Lewis and Josh resulted in 2 runs scoring. A 3rd run was scored as Alex Jones reached again on a fielders choice, the Dodgers choosing to get the runner out between 2nd and 3rd base. A similar play followed as Noah Lynch put the ball in play and some over enthusiastic base running from Alex Jones allowed the Dodgers to tag him as he tried to make it all the way to 3rd.
Bottom of the 3rd and again the Dodgers scored the maximum 5 runs this time without conceding an out as a combination of errors and fielders choice plays were followed by 3 straight hits for Lucas Lebrato, Thomas Garton and Noah Haines. 3 innings completed, 11-8 Dodgers.
Into the 4th and, due to the rather ominous looking clouds overhead, final inning. No run limit this time, could the Giants mount another come from behind win? James Dullea had now switched sides due to a poorly Nicholas Durer having to leave the game and was immediately called into action as the leadoff hitter. He stroked a ground rule double to the outfield fence and came home on another double from the bat of Josh Jones. With Lewis having stuck out in between there were still the chances to make the Dodgers at least bat again. However 2 strike outs for Alex Jones and Noah Lynch left Josh stranded at 2nd base and the game was over, 11-9 Dodgers.
Both sides took advantage of the shortage of fielders to register multi hit games, highlights being Josh Jones’ 5 for 5 and 5 RBI’s for the Giants, and Lucas Lebrato hitting 4 for 4 with 2 RBI’s for the Dodgers.
This result evened the series at 3 ½ – 3 ½.
Hopefully better weather, and more of the players being able to attend, will make for continuing excitement in the games and the series.
Photo: Svein Håvard Djupvik