Herts snap losing streak against champions Richmond

BBF Single-A League
Richmond Dukes 17 – Herts Raptors 38
written by Emmanuel Banson and Andrew Slater

It started off with Andrew Slater stepping into the managerial hot seat for Herts Raptors for the first time in 3 years because of unavailability of Geoff Thomas and Rob Jones. After a long week of trying to make a team with a massive club effort to find players with special thanks to Aspi we had 12 players for the game.

With confidence and energy coming from the Raptor’s we began the game with the sun starting to come out from behind the clouds.

It was a strong start with the bats in the first inning with Adam Landau-Smithers leading off with a walk and scoring on errors by Richmond’s defence. Ross Asquith played his first game of the season and hit a line drive for a single and Jim Arnott hit a one-run double on a line drive and advanced to third on an error. Leading to Raptors scoring 5 runs in the 1st inning.

Andrew Slater started on the mound for the Raptors and he struggled with a tight strike zone, he walked 2 batters and Richmond battled back with 5 runs to tie it 5 – 5 after the 1st inning.

We carried on where we left off at bat with strong hitting and solid base running extended the lead 13 – 5 at the top of the 3rd inning. Richmond scored 5 more runs at bottom of 3rd with Andrew Slater continuing to struggle with a tight strike zone to make it 13 – 10 to Raptors.

In the end after 3 innings Andrew pitched 75 – 39 strikes, 6 BB, 9 hits, 12 runs, 11 earned, 0 Ks.

Andrew Slater thought it was best if he stepped off the mound giving Matt Johnston his first appearance as a pitcher after playing a solid 3 innings at SS. With Andrew Slater switched to fill the gap at shortstop. Matt Johnston on the mound with runners on 1st and 3rd base didn’t take long to warm up and settle into his new role. With Matt Johnston striking one out and fielding a ball and throwing the out at first for the second out of the inning. He gained the momentum back for the Raptors with the final out being an infield pop up to new short stop Andrew Slater.

Richmond took little advantage of the situation as they only scored another 2 runs to make it 13 – 12 after 4 innings. But with a close score, the Raptors were understandably a bit nervous that the momentum could be swinging Richmond’s way.

Andrew Slater’s tactical prowess was brilliant and well executed. Adam Landau-Smithers continued to get on base and causing Richmond infield problems with his aggressive base running and Ross Asquith flawless lefty hitting sending a ball down the 3rd base line over the head of the 3rd baseman landing 5 inches in fair play. Raptors started to go right round the order to dominate with the bat while Richmond’s starting pitcher struggled to curb Raptors offence. With solid hitting all the way through the order, Richmond decided to change pitchers after 4.33 innings – 129 – 61 strikes, 10 BB, 6 hits, 17 runs, 11 earned, 7 Ks. Avram Nikolic-Parry came in relief and Richmond defence couldn’t cope with Raptors offence which led up to 22 – 12.

Matt Johnston continued to battle with the strike zone and Raptors defence helped him out and managed to stop Richmond’s comeback with only 3 runs to make it 22 – 15. Richmond’s relief Avram Nikolic-Parry struggled to find his groove and the Raptors took advantage with passed balls, hits and steals even the Raptors are 2 outs. After the disastrous 1.33 innings – 81 – 30 strikes, 7 BB, 7 hits, 15 runs, 6 earned, 2 Ks.

With the Raptors making changes taking Adam Landau-Smithers from 2B after a solid game making one out, no errors and running his heart out round the bases, and replacing him with Charlie Day who fitted into the swing of things with a solid hit with his first at bat. Joe and Mike stepped into the outfield and also continued to make solid contact with the bat.

Joe was unfortunately hitting too well as the Raptors rallied in the 6th batting round the order leading Joe to have the painful stat of being the first and second out of the inning.

The first out was a deep hit to LF, with the second out being a stroke of bad luck when he drove the ball with some speed straight back to the pitcher. The pitcher ducked and turned away to only then find out the ball had hit him clean in the glove making the out. This then led Richmond’s Ben Carter to replace Avram Nikolic Parry on the mound after losing the feeling in his hand. Raptor’s offence continued to batter Richmond’s defence and extended the lead to 32 – 15 with help from Andrew Slater bringing two home with a double with bases loaded and Jeff W following up with a solid hit to continue the trend.

The Raptors defence was proving to be as solid as I have seen this season. Ken Pike taking a brilliant pop up behind the plate, running full steam at the fence, especially after being behind the plate in hot conditions for over 3 hours.

Then making a throw out to 3rd baseman Jon Lewys to close the inning

Raptors scored further 6 runs at top of the 7th to extend the lead to 38 – 15.

Matt Johnston stepped onto the mound for what we all hoped would be the last time after a very hot day down in Richmond. With 2 out and Richmond only scoring 2 runs Matt Johnston stepped up and struck out the last ending the inning and the ballgame by mercy rule.

This is the biggest runs scored by Herts Raptors this season and a record as well for BBF Leagues 2014 season. Matt Johnston – 4 innings 79 – 38 strikes, 5 BB, 4 hits, 5 runs, 5 earned, 5 Ks.

Herts Raptors win 38 – 17, there was a lot of smiles and high fives at Raptors dugout. Well done Raptors and let’s hope the momentum carries on towards to the end of the season.

Manager Andrew slater post game mentions

” It was a great club effort and I truly appreciate the effort of some players traveling long distance to help out today. It shows a great togetherness throughout Herts. I’m finding it very hard to remember any real errors on defence which is great. Especially with people playing in positions they have not done before. I find it very hard to pick a player of the day after such a team effort.Matt Johnston has to get a special mention with a solid first 3 innings at SS and then a stunning display of nerves and composure as Pitcher for 4 innings, especially as he has not played in either position in a league game. Ken pike was hard working behind the plate and Adam was solid at 2B and always on base. Saying all that I think it has to go to Ross for making great catches in the out field and his hitting stats where amazing for someone’s first game this year”

Player of the Day – Ross Asquith 7 for 6, 5 runs, 6 RBIs, 9 SB.

Unlucky Knob Out of the Year so far – Joseph Osborne-Brade hits a hard line drive at Richmond’s pitcher and caught it without looking at the ball.