Black Widows and Blue Dogs will feel confident after the first round of games in the Hunlock Series. They both won three out of their 4 games and are in joint-first place in the standings.
It is a major surprise to see White Lightning languishing in last place after they lost all four of their games. They were tipped as the team to watch after they picked all of the club’s Herts Harriers players and turned up at the ballpark with a squad of 20 very talented players, giving them enviable pitching depth. However, they should not feel too down. All of their games were lost by one run only. This is a very unusual statistic. In a league with a large number of games such as the Hunlock Series the number of wins and losses by one run are expected to be more evenly distributed. For example, in MLB the worst 1-run win-loss ratio is that of the Houston Astros (18-36) and the best is that of the New York Yankees (30-16). It is very unlikely for the ratio to deviate beyond 2:1 or 1:2. The law of averages would suggest that White Lightning will return to a more normal ratio over the course of the competition with 12 more games still to be played by each team.
Apart from the Herts U17 team players, fans also had a chance to see two of the club’s U14 players, Ben Jones and James Roberts, who were squeezed into the competition despite the age limit set at 14. They didn’t look out of place and managed to get a hit against an NBL pitcher.
The Green Gators came through with flying colours (2 wins – 2 losses) in this first week of games when they are missing their star-players. They will be in the mix now that their manager, Cris Hiche, and several others return to the line up in weeks 2 and 3.
The Red Roosters had picked up Andrew Fulford who is one of the best players in the Draft. He is not available in week 2 or 3 and despite his team losing the one game he was available for, he still managed to show why he is a very sought-after player. He is a catcher and in just two innings of play he threw out three runners trying to steal bases. The runners somehow managed to stay safe simply because the fielders were not able to catch the ball thrown by Fulford as it was travelling with such ferocious velocity. The Red Roosters will not have Fulford in the remaining 12 games, but there is good news for Herts Baseball club as we understand that Fulford will be flying into the UK for parts of the 2014 season and the club can count on having one of the bets catchers in any of the British League tiers.
Players of the 7 senior and youth league teams were cheering on Ryan Bird this year in the NBL as he dominated on the pitching mound recording back-to-back NBL no-hitters. Today they had the opportunity to face a Ryan Bird-fastball. For many of the batters this was as close as they will get to facing an MLB-type fastball. The majority tried their best to swing and make contact without success. Many chose to bunt and got a buzz out of how far a ball can travel over the backstop fence by simply laying the bat down for a bunt. Sony Lama got a piece of one of those fastballs to foul it off. Only one batter, Carlos Casal Sr, managed to get on base against Bird and it came at a great cost as the Mizuno bat which had served Casal so well for 4 seasons shattered into pieces in the process. If that success gave batters of the other 4 teams some hope that perhaps the two-time NBL MVP is not unhittable, those hopes were quickly dashed when Bird showed his curveball to the next batter. The pitch broke so hard that catcher Carlos Velazco needed to stay fully alerted just to keep a hold of the ball when strike 3 was called.
Every year during the Hunlock Series, Herts fans get a glimpse at the new talent which will be wearing the Herts jersey next season. There were many players who made an impression, but it was the muscular structure of 22-year-old Mike Green that caught the eye. He made Greg Bochan look like Sheldon in the sitcom series, “The Big Bang Theory”, (or Frank Spencer for our older audience). Mike Green had never played baseball before today’s Hunlock Series games, but it was obvious that he will add incredible power to the Herts batting line-up in 2014. Sometimes muscles do not necessarily come with hand-eye co-ordination, but it was clear for all to see that Green is very capable of combining his explosive power with consistent contact with the bat. He even had batting stance which reminded baseball fans of former Boston Red Sox slugger, Mo Vaughn, but without the extra weight.
The games continue next Sunday, 6 October. First pitch 11:00am.