Abel Salas ended his outstanding season in style with a grand slam home run (photo by Paul Holdrick)
The Herts Falcons were eliminated from the National Baseball League playoff race seven days ago, but on the final weekend of the regular season they had a chance to ruin the plans of the Essex Arrows who needed a win to secure top spot and an automatic place in the National Championship final. The Falcons planned to unleash their ace pitcher, Abel Salas, on them but a back-muscle injury before the start of the game meant that Darrin Ward had to take his place. Despite a closely fought battle, the Arrows pulled away in the late innings to win 10-2 and clinch top spot taking pole position going into the playoffs. They will meet either the London Mets or Southampton Mustangs or Southern Nationals in the NBL Final.
Two more games were played on Sunday which enabled the Falcons to end their season on a positive note. 16-year-old pitcher Zack Longboy made his NBL debut and pitched a complete game winning 11-6 against the South London Pirates. The arm injury prevented star-player Abel Salas from pitching, but that didn’t stop him from hitting a grand slam home run in that game.
In the Single-A League the Herts Raptors suffered a 39-14 defeat against the Essex Archers.
This was the final weekend of a disappointing season for the four teams from Hertfordshire. None of them reached the playoffs and, despite a dramatic playoff push by the Herts Falcons in the NBL, they and each of the other three Herts baseball teams ended the year with more losses than wins.
The work begins now to put together teams which are able to compete much better at all four league levels in 2015. The promising performances of young players like Carlos Casal Jr, Conner Brown, Liam Green, Tom Everex-Armstrong, Will Zucker and Zack Longboy in the NBL this season has given Herts fans hope that the Falcons will be in a much better position to compete next season. Many other Herts youngsters have made similar progress with the other Herts teams in the minor leagues.