Report by Rob Jones
The last time these two teams met saw an epic victory for Herts to close the 2014 season. This time, on a cloudy day at Grovehill, the Essex team would have their revenge. Rookie Paul Barton was on the mound for the home team and steady work kept the Redbacks to just three runs in the first frame. Herts then replied with one of their own.
The visitors stole bases with abandon but the Raptors were able to make plays to keep them in check. Right fielder Clive Johnson – who only took up baseball last year – turned a vital double play in the second inning, catching a fly ball then making the throw to Drew Mayhew at first to double up the runner.
But in the third a combination of Barton’s tiring arm and a series of agonising hits into the gaps meant the Redbacks racked up 7 runs, and they piled on more in the fourth. The Herts bats did try to fight back – with Jeff Witter the big slugger of the day. They rallied for 7 runs in the bottom of the fourth. But twice during the game they loaded the bases with two outs, and Forest Glade were able to shut the door.
Daniel Bennett and Drew Mayhew also put in solid pitching appearances for the inexperienced Raptors, and the team will build on good things from this game. A second double play was another defensive highlight. This time Paul Barton at third base snared a line drive on his shoelaces, and alertly doubled off the runner who was heading home.