report by Hunter Devine
The Herts Hawks continued their march towards the AA playoffs last Sunday with a match-up against the Southampton Mustangs II at Grovehill Ballpark.
Herts struck first, in the bottom of the 1st inning, with some heads-up base running, from shortstop Hunter Devine, who reached third base on a passed ball all the way from first, and then scored on a second passed ball a few pitches later.
This would be all the offense that both clubs could muster in the early goings, however, thanks to some strong pitching and defence.
Hawks Ace, Nick Russell, was on the mound once again and stymied the Mustangs offense all day; recording 5+ strikeouts and pitching another complete game. Russell was assaulting the strike zone with all his pitches, forcing many of the Mustangs’ hitters to fall behind early in the count and was in complete control all afternoon, also preventing their momentum by making several confident plays on bunts and weak grounders.
When the Mustang’s hitters did managed to get the bat on the ball, the Hawks defence was outstanding. Hawks co-manager, Greg ‘the motion’ Bochan, lead the way making several tremendous plays at third base; including a slick force-out at third – throw out at first double play, while the outfield, of Andy Cornish, Ross Asquith and Kal Dimitrov, also made several key outs in important situations with strong throws to prevent runners from advancing.
The Hawks struck once again with 2 outs and runners on second and third thanks to a 2RBI single from Devine, who would finish the day with 5 RBIs, a triple to the notch in left field and a double.
From here, the Hawks offense continued to pile on runs in bunches with important stolen bases from Tim Elkins, who also played a strong first base all game, and some big hits from left fielder, Ross Asquith, who hit a 2 RBI triple, DH Jim Arnott and young second basemen Callum Vangundy.
In the bottom of the 8th, with an 8-run lead, Hawks’ catcher Paul Auchterlounie sealed the victory (by way of the mercy rule) with a walk-off 2 run double.
With this victory the Herts Hawks moved one step closer to clinching their second playoff spot in as many seasons. With three games remaining, and in sole possession of the 6th and final playoff spot, the Hawks only need to win one remaining game in order to clinch a postseason berth.