Falcons swept by Mets, lose ground in playoff race

Jose Sosa willing Ryan Hackel on to score against the Mets (photo by Paul Holdrick)

Daniel Levitt, reporting from Grovehill Ballpark

The Herts Falcons saw their playoff hopes take a huge dent on Sunday, as they dropped a pair of games to the London Mets in Finsbury Park.

Starting the afternoon already two games behind the reigning champion Southern Nationals, the Falcons knew they had to escape the capital with at least one win under their belts. The fact that they departed with zero, serves as yet another major hump in a bumpy road this season.

The Falcons, whom have been plagued with injuries all season long, were up against it from the start, after news broke that star pitcher and hitter Abel Salas would be unavailable for both games due to illness. A testament to the team was that they fought right to the death, and could have actually walked away as winners of both games.

It wasn’t to be however.

Game 1 saw centre-fielder, Jose Sosa, step in at the eleventh hour and perform a quality outing in just his second start on the mound this year. The Dominican flashed the heat throughout, striking out 11 in total and appeared in control and relatively unfazed, but a run in the each of the first, fifth and sixth innings proved to be his downfall.

On another day, Sosa would have played the hero, instead he was the losing pitcher.

There were positives that the Falcons could take into the second game of the afternoon, with Michael Osborne and Liam Green each tacking an RBI onto their season totals, while shortstop Ryan Hackel once again flashed the leather on defense, turning another string of impressive double plays.

One trend the Falcons continued was their indefatigable commitment and unwillingness to give in, and relentlessly fought back to just a 3-2 deficit heading into the final inning.

With runners on second and third and two outs, the game could have gone either way. It wasn’t meant to be however, as Mets closer Jamie Thomas sealed a tough loss for the Falcons.

Falcons manager, Lee Manning, will not know how his team lost game 2, but a mid-game collapse may have just cost his side a spot in the postseason. After sprinting to a 6-0 lead in the third inning, the Falcons steadily surrendered the lead and eventually lost in extra innings.

Having gone ahead early through a Hackel RBI single, a two-run double by Osborne and three RBIs courtesy of three consecutive walks, the Falcons seemingly took their foot off the gas and began thinking about next week’s match-up.

By the sixth inning, they were tied.

The Mets then took the lead in the sixth, scoring on a single to go up 7-6.

The seesaw game took to another turn when the Falcons managed to tie the game once again, courtesy of a John Blose RBI single in the top of the seventh inning to send the game into extra innings.

The Falcons’ fate was sealed when they allowed the Mets to score the winning run on an overthrow, a bitterly disappointing way to lose a thrilling game.

Osborn and Ward combine to pick off a London runner (photo by Paul Holdrick)

With that, the Falcons now find themselves at 4-10 for the season and 3 games out of the playoff places. With a crunch 2-game series coming up against the table-topping Southampton Mustangs, the Hertfordshire based club cannot afford to lose any more ground if they are to be serious playoff contenders.

The double-header takes place at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hemstead, with the first pitch scheduled for 12pm.