A Bridge Too Far – Raptors fall in the ninth. Blackjacks Becking hits for the cycle.

British Single-A League
Haverhill Blackjacks 27 Herts Raptors 20
Adrian Smithers reporting form Grovehill Ballpark

The Raptors arrived at Grovehill knowing that they had a tough game ahead, against the visiting Blackjacks, as they sought their first win.

The game got underway and the Blackjacks soon had their first run on the board. Trailing by three, Raptors responded patiently and plated six runners on 1 hit, 6 walks and a HBP. Haverhill replied with six runs in the second, including a triple by Becking. Smithers led off the bottom of the inning for Herts, jumping on a first pitch slider which he hit for an opposite field triple. He was still standing rooted on third gasping for oxygen, much to the hilarity of both dugouts, when a passed ball gave him the chance to advance home two pitches later. Luckily he was able to spare his embarrassment, advancing on another passed ball two batters later for Raptors only run in the second.

The Blackjacks further extended their lead in the third inning on a two run homer from their slugger in the three spot, Daniel Becking. Despite this, Herts pitcher Charlie Mayhew settled down and got out of the inning with no further damage. The bottom of the third saw Raptors pull a run back, scored by Wittter who had been walked and then stolen second (AGAIN!) before advancing home on a passed ball to Phillips.

With the score 11-8, Herts starting pitcher Mayhew recorded two outs before reaching his pitch limit. He was relieved by Andrew Slater who got the third out of the fourth inning. Herts then added three runs in the bottom of the inning to compliment the first goose egg on the scorecard. The game was tied at 11-11.

The Blackjacks scored twice in the fifth. Raptors responded, plating three runs to at last regain the lead. This included Slater advancing all the way home from first on a passed ball to Mayhew, after pitcher Phillips hurled the ball back towards the mound in a fit of pique after failing to tag an evasively sliding Smithers at the plate.

The Blackjacks tied it up again in the sixth scoring one before relief pitcher Fuentes sent the top of the Raptors line up back to the dugout in order.

The two teams then traded blows over the next two innings and the Raptors found themselves in the top of the ninth with a one run lead (20-19) and the chance to seal their first win of the season. It was not to be and with two outs and the score tied, a tiring Slater was savaged mercilessly for a further seven runs, not all earned. The Raptors seemed to sag visibly and the bottom half of the inning was almost a formality as the Blackjacks left the diamond celebrating a hard fought 27-20 victory.

Raptors manager Geoff Thomas said, “It was a tough loss today, we played outstanding against a very good team but a couple of big innings cost us and we couldn’t quite pull it back. A lot of positives to take into next week though.”

Player of the day has to go to Haverhill’s Daniel Becking who hit for the cycle with stats of,
5-6, 6R, 4RBI, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 2BB, 3SB.