Falcons extend winning streak to 14 to stay top of NBL

photos by Richard Lee (richardleephotography.org)

written by Cristobal Hiche

After a weekend off where some Falcons players joined the Herts Team in the London Tournament and a few others played with the NBL All-Star Team, it was back to business to finish the season strong and continue with the winning streak. However, the always dangerous Lakenheath Diamondbacks were standing in the way. If they have all their players available they can be a real threat and it started that way in the first game.

NBL (Game 1) Herts Falcons 7 Lakenheath Diamondbacks 2 (click to view box scores)

Dbacks got ahead early in the game and every Falcons player was trying to adjust their strike zone and Kevin Carr was pitching very well for the Dbacks, exploiting the outside corner of the plate and a good repertoire of fastballs and wicked curveballs. By the bottom of the 4th Falcons had only 1 hit and had left few men on base. Kevin was striking out too many Falcons (8 in total) and the Falcons realised they needed just to put the ball in play if something was going to happen. With Carr getting a little bit tired, he walk a few batters and with bases loaded and 1 out, Michael Osborn being down 0-2 battled to a 2-2 count and put the ball in play on a grounder to second base but an error was made on the catch and then trying to rush the throw to first base it went wild and two important runs were scored. This changed the momentum of the game and gave the Falcons the lead. That was probably a psychological boost for the Falcons and also the realisation by Lakenheath that the game might be slipping away. Why? Because, although Robbie Unsell allowed an early run, he was still pitching a gem and for the most part taking control of the game. However with the score 3-1 in the top of the 5th, Robbie made a small but costly mistake hanging a slider in the middle of the plate which Kevin Carr smashed to left field reducing the Herts lead. However Falcons regained control and ended up scoring 4 more runs with the help of Ryan Bird who went 2-3 (1RBI, 1R, 1 double) to give Falcons a final score of 7-2.

NBL (Game 2) Herts Falcons 17 Lakenheath Diamondbacks 0 (click to view box scores)

The second game ended up being a slug fest for the Falcons. Let’s make no mistake, Lakenheath starting pitcher Shawn Benton had a good slider and curveball. In fact, he managed to strike out Cris Hiche twice who up to these games had only 5 all season. However, he abused too much of his breaking balls and Falcons jumped all over them. With a final score of 17-0 is difficult to find the player of the match. Although Robbie Unsell (2-3, 4R, 1RBI, 1BB), Xavi Gonzalez (2-3, 3R, 4RBI, 1 Triple) and Jordan Farkas (2-4, 1R, 2RBI) had their usual amazing performances, it was once again Ryan Bird who stole the show (in the reporter’s opinion) finishing 2-3, 3R, 1BB, and an impressive 6RBI, including a clearing bases double. That’s Bingo Bango right there!…And even though it now sounds like a broken record, it’s impossible to avoid mentioning another stellar performance by Michael Osborn who pitched a shutout.

Manager Lee Manning had this to say at the end of the day: “I’m very happy with the way the whole team played today. It was a slow start in Game 1 but we found the runs when we needed to”. He then added: “Game 2 was a hitting show with Michael doing an amazing job once again on the hill. Bingo Bango!”

Falcons have another weekend off since they have only 2 weekends left in their regular season in the next month and a half. It seems such a shame since Falcons are playing so well, carrying lots of momentum and the beautiful weather screams for baseball games. But although in the US summer is associated with baseball, beers, hot dogs and apple pie, given UK’s recent rainy summers it makes complete sense to have started the season quite early in the cold days of spring. Unfortunately there wasn’t any rain and now there won’t be much baseball in the best UK summer in decades. With playoffs pushed all the way to September, and God forbid there isn’t a downpour that weekend, let’s hope Falcons can keep the winning streak going until the end. So Falcons fans can relax this weekend, spend time with the family, and plan for the last two home dates for the team on 11 and 18 August and of course the September playoffs.