A heavyweight battle between pitcher Jamie Gregory and batter Cris Hiche in the final of the 2014 Hunlock Series
The Red Roosters came back from behind in both the semi-final and the final to win the 2014 Hunlock Series.
The day began with the Blue Dogs’ shock win over White Lightning in the Quarter-Final elimination game. They had a win-loss percentage of just .146 finishing bottom in the league stage of the competition miles behind the other three teams. Everyone had written them off ahead of the elimination stage of the Series and they took full advantage of the low expectations. Their opponent was third-placed White Lightning. They were missing several key players and struggled to respond to the Blue Dogs’ onslaught who won convincingly 15-7.
Next up for the team in blue was a semi-final elimination game against the Red Roosters who didn’t want to take any chances and put their ace pitcher, Zack Longboy, on the mound. Despite the Blue Dogs taking an early 3-0 lead, this proved to be just a hiccup for the Roosters. They moved up a gear and eased to a 15-5 win, but the Dogs should feel satisfied that they reached the semi-final against all the odds.
The stage was set. It was down to two teams – Black Widows and Red Roosters. The managers went with Lee Manning and Jamie Gregory as their starting pitchers, respectively. The expectations of a pitchers’ duel didn’t materialise. It was all about offense as both teams put together big rallies. After three innings the Black Widows took a 7-6 lead thanks to a 3-run home run by second-baseman Fraser Duggan hit over the right-centerfield wall.
Both teams brought in their relief pitchers who did very well to quieten the bats, but not before the Roosters drove in 3 runs to take a 9-7 lead. A George Blaskett single in the penultimate inning reduced the deficit to 8-9. Fraser Duggan came within a few feet of his second home run of the game which would have scored 2 runs, however left-fielder Takaya Miki showed great range with a leaping catch at the wall for the third out with Red Roosters holding onto their slender 9-8 lead.
Black Widows brought in leftie closer Cris Hiche. He was faultless recording three quick outs to take the game into the bottom of the final inning. Mike Cattermole led off with a single. Dan Whitton was hit by pitch and very quickly the Black Widows had the tying run on third and winning run on second base. The infield moved in and so did the outfield. Jimmy McCormick made solid contact but grounded straight to shortstop Carlos Casal who managed to make the play and get the out at home. Relief pitcher Simon Langton was doing very well and he managed to strikeout the next batter for the second out of the inning. With two outs and the tying and winning runs on third and second base, respectively, this was the type of situation in which Black Widows would bring on their walk-off hero Colin Whitton who has had a 1.000 batting average (2-for-2) in these do-or-die situations in the previous two weeks of the Series, but he wasn’t available on this occasion. It came down to Aspi Dimitrov to try to do a “Colin Whitton”. He swung at the first pitch taking the ball to left-centerfield where Takaya Miki was on hand again to make another running catch to end the game and secure the Hunlock Series Championship for the Reds.
These were the final baseball games of 2014. Hopefully these enjoyable Hunlock Series will help players survive the dark and cold months of winter which will be upon us soon. 2015 Spring Training seems far away. There may not be any baseball action until then, but the members of Herts Baseball Club know that the club will shortly be entering a period of frantic off-field activity which could shape the 2015 season and could prove to be the difference between success and failure both on and off the field next year. For more information about getting involved as a member of staff or as a board member, contact Herts Baseball Club.