If you went to see ten major league baseball games, you could expect to see about seven batters hit by a pitch.
Or you could mosey on down to Grovehill Ballpark, grab a doughnut from the concession stand, set up your collapsible armchair, and watch Herts under-11 baseball. On Saturday we hit seven batters in four innings.
Joint leaders in the “hit by pitch” league table are Lewis Auchterlounie and Jonathan Wakelam, with four each. Nicholas Durer has three, all picked up on Saturday. Even Noah Lynch has been clouted twice, and Lord knows, he’s not a big target.
Now, our league is not well known for its tactical use of the inside pitch. Brushbacks are generally not in our armoury; nor do you see much chin music in a Dodgers v Giants clash.
It’s true that in Major League Baseball, batters face pitches thrown maybe an mph or two faster than our U11 pitchers can yet manage. It’s true also that the adult baseball is essentially a smooth rock, while we favour a softer, more squidgy projectile.
However, your typical MLB batter steps up to the plate sporting an elbow pad and a shin guard, and for all I know, a variety of other guards too. Meanwhile our brave batters face down the pitching wearing just their Herts uniforms and a helmet. Do they flinch? OK, do they flinch much? No, they don’t!
So Herts Baseball Club would like to apologise to any U11 parents or guardians whose charges returned home on Saturday afternoon covered in bruises. Be assured, it’s for the good of baseball.
On with the game. If you’ve been keeping up with our rambling reports, you’ll know that the Giants held a two-game lead after the first game in the 8th June double-header. The Dodgers then won two on the bounce to level things up, 3½ – 3½.
As the visitors today, the Dodgers opened up the batting, Josh Jones on the mound. William Morillo picked up a single, and Nicholas Durer was hit by his first pitch of the day. These two were left on base, though, as Josh struck out Alex Trautman for the third out. The Giants weren’t able to take advantage, as Dodgers pitcher Alex Trautman recorded three quick outs to close the first inning.
Top of 2, and Jonathan Wakelam was next to be clunked with the ball, and moved into scoring position when Rory Vangundy singled. Wakelam then scored on an error. Two more HBPs later, Rory Vangundy also made it home after a fielding mix-up. 2-0 Dodgers.
It looked as if the Giants would be able to respond in kind as Josh Jones hit a double to lead off their 2nd inning, and Alex Jones singled, moving Josh onto third and reaching second on the throw. With Lewis Auchterlounie thwacked on the chest, the bases were loaded with two outs, but Alex Trautman got the crucial strikeout to get the Dodgers out of jail.
In the third, the Dodgers sparkled with the bat – James Dullea, Rory Vangundy, William Morillo and Lucas Lebrato made successive base hits, with two runs scored. Josh Jones was tiring as pitcher and Ben Jupp took over. Nicholas Durer reached on a fielder’s choice as Lucas was tagged out. A single for Alex Trautman, another clout on the leg for Jonathan Wakelam, and an RBI ground-out for James Dullea, and that was four for the inning, and a 6-0 lead.
Ben Jupp then led off the bottom of the third for the Giants, and hit a hard drive towards second baseman Rory Vangundy. Rory snagged the ball, set himself and fired a throw to Nicholas Durer at first for a terrific 4-3 play. The Giants then recorded a couple of base hits in, but things weren’t going their way as the inning ended scoreless.
In the fourth, Lucas Lebrato, who leads the season’s batting averages, hit his second double of the game. Nicholas Durer recorded his third “hit by pitch”, although by now we suspected he was just throwing himself at the ball. But two quick strikeouts, and that was it for the Dodgers – the Giants would have to score six to keep the game alive. Despite three singles, they could only manage one run, Oliver Durer with the RBI, and the Dodgers recorded a 6-1 win to take a one-game lead in the series.
This game was perhaps closer than it looked; the Dodgers scored eight hits to the Giants’ seven, and the Giants had seven batters left on base. Had the Giants been able to make something out of the two-out, bases loaded position in the second, the game might have taken a different course. All to play for as the season progresses.
On Saturday 6th July, the under-11 all-stars travel to Essex to meet the Redbacks. Essex batters are advised to pad up.