Kal Dimitrov reporting from Tonbridge in Kent
On an overcast (even for England that was a kind way to put it) day, the Herts Hawks visited Tonbridge. Both teams had the same win-loss record (4-0) and similar runs for and against records. It was shaping up to be a tight game, and did not disappoint.
Both pitchers, Gareth Nutt for Tonbridge and Nic Goetz for Herts dominated on the mound, with Nutt striking out 9 and walking 6, and Goetz striking out 6 and walking 4. The defence behind Goetz had a few shakes in the early innings, which produced some errors, but Goetz was able to keep his cool and continued dealing, helped by some timely throw downs by catcher Paul Auchterlounie, who threw out a couple of runners. The game did see a few errors – 8 for Herts and 6 for Tonbridge, which reflected on the pitchers’ ERA – 0.9 for Goetz and 4.5 for Nutt.
After some dominant pitching, by the 5th inning Tonbridge had managed to put together a good lead of 9-5, but some critical hits in the 6th and 7th brought the game to 10-9 in the 8th inning. There followed some excellent pitching and defensive displays by both teams, but in the 9th a critical error allowed Ken Pike to reach first, steel second and get to third on a passed ball with one out. The next batter, Sonny Lama, had an epic 10 pitch at bat at the end of which he produced a double that brought in the tying run, with Sonny almost scoring the go-ahead run but being tagged out at the plate. Goetz and his defence managed a one-two-three inning in the bottom of the ninth, which took the game to extra innings. In the top of the 10th, Bobby Graham and Paul Auchterlounie had successive hits, and Bobby eventually scored the go-ahead run followed by Auchterlounie’s insurance run, both on a wild pitch. Tonbridge mounted an effort and scored a run in the bottom of the 10th, but Herts held on to eventually win 12-11.
It was a rare Single-A League extra innings game that both pitchers completed, presumably necessitating extensive use of ice subsequently. The Herts co-manager Andrew Slater was rightfully delighted with the performance of the team in a tough game against difficult opponents, in particular in view of the relatively limited squad he had available for the game. The Hawks now continue their unbeaten streak, and are getting ready for a home game against Essex Archers.