A win for starting pitcher Robbie Almanzar in Game One (photo by Paul Holdrick)
The Herts Falcons picked up two wins on Sunday against the South London Pirates which keeps the pressure on the current leaders, London Mets, who are one game ahead.
The Falcons conceded 15 runs in their season-opening game against the South London Pirates to win narrowly 16-15. This time around there was no late-inning drama. Both wins were secured comfortably with final scores of 18-4 and 15-1. Jose Sosa has been outstanding on the mound this season, but manager Lee Manning decided to give his arm some rest and instead the starting pitchers were Robbie Almanzar in the first game and Mike Osborn in the second. Both were outstanding. Osborn struck out 9 Pirates over 4 innings. Almanzar also pitched 4 innings striking out 4 with allowing no earned runs. In fact the starters and relievers, Jose Sosa and Matt Gilbert, allowed only 1 earned run over the two games. The step up by the pitching staff comes at a perfect time as the team prepares for several crucial games including the big clash with the Mets.
Andy Cornish hit his first home run of the season (photo by Paul Holdrick)
Offensively the team continues to terrorize opponents with a team batting average of .356 and slugging average of .579. There was no home run from record-chasing, Maikel Azcuy, but the number of Falcons players with a home run to their name this season has increased to seven with Andy Cornish and Jose Sosa being added to the list on Sunday. Moises Vasquez came close to being the eighth home run hitter when his shot bounced off the top railing of the home run wall.
Herts fans also had an unexpected surprise on Sunday when two-time NBL Most Valuable Player, Ryan Bird (pictured right), made the trip from the USA for his first game for the Falcons since 6 April 2014. He picked up where he left batting 2-for-3 (2B, RBI).
The Herts Falcons next game is at home against the Bracknell Blazers on 31 May. It is expected to be a difficult game. On Sunday the Blazers showed how dangerous they can be when they came close to beating the table-topping Mets.
In the other leagues, the Herts Eagles were involved in a closely-fought game with the Essex Redbacks. They lost the first game 6-4, but bounced back to win the second 4-2. This pushes them up one place into sixth position in the Triple-A League standings. In the Single-A League the Herts Raptors loaded the bases in the final inning against the Brighton Redhawks which put the tying run on second base and the go-ahead run on first base, but their late rally ended there with the score 18-20. They are the only Herts team in action next Sunday, 24 May, as they go on the road again searching for their first win of the season this time against the Guildford Mavericks.