(photo by Paul Holdrick)
The Herts Falcons were unable to end the unbeaten run of the London Mets on Sunday, losing both games of the doubleheader. There was a consolation for them as Maikel Azcuy hit career home run number 36 to become the all-time home run leader in the history of the National Baseball League (NBL).
Maikel Azcuy (@hertsbaseball) just broke the all-time @BritishBaseball NBL home run record with a shot to dead centre vs. @LondonMets.
— Liam Carroll (@liamcarrollGB) June 7, 2015
In game one the Mets took a 4-run lead in the first inning, but the visitors from Hertfordshire showed determination to stay in the game and fight back. A towering 2-run home run to dead centerfield by Maikel Azcuy brought the Falcons back in the game in the sixth inning. The historic significance of that home run may not have been fully appreciated by Azcuy at that moment as he must have been more excited about the fact that he gave his team a lifeline to come back in this massive game in the NBL title race. However, in the coming days and weeks he will realize that he has set a major milestone in British baseball. He has overtaken the legendary Simon Pole (35 home runs) as well as other big names like Alan Bloomfield (31), Roddi Liebenberg (31), among others. Furthermore, he has many more years to add to his home run tally. Youngsters coming through the youth leagues will face an uphill task if they are to equal or better his achievement.
Congrats to my former teammate & a true friend Maikel Azcuy who yesterday hit HR no 36 to become the all time HR leader in @BritishBaseball
— Will Lintern (@Will_Lintern) June 8, 2015
With the game finely poised at 4-2 ,the Falcons had one final inning to stay in the game, but it wasn’t to be. Their starting pitcher Jose Sosa did extremely well to shut down the Mets completely from the second inning onwards, but the best batting lineup in the league could not bring in the runs it needed to bring down the NBL’s best defence.
The second game seemed like a repeat of game one. The Mets took an early 4-0 lead. This included a home run by Grant Delzoppo – 26th of his career, which puts him in fifth place in the all-time NBL home run list. The Falcons fought back temporarily after a solo home run by Edwin Alcantara who has been outstanding this season. This was his third home run of the season which makes him this season’s home run joint-leader in the NBL alongside Maikel Azcuy. Unlike the first game, the Mets didn’t allow any late inning drama and moved up a gear to score seven runs and seal an emphatic 11-1 victory.
After a promising start of the season winning five of their first six games, the Herts Falcons have now suffered four defeats in a row, but manager, Lee Manning, remains positive about his team’s chances. “The four defeats have been difficult for our team to take, but there is a lot of baseball still to be played and we are in a strong position. We have a team of experienced players who have been through tougher situations in their careers and they enjoy playing when the pressure is on” said Manning.
In the Triple-A League, the Herts Eagles missed an opportunity to get back in the playoff chase after they suffered two defeats against bottom team Essex Redbacks who have now leapfrogged the Eagles. The only team from Hertfordshire to win this weekend were the Herts Hawks in the Single-A League. Their win against the Essex Archers extends their unbeaten run to six. The game included a home run by Bobby Graham on his home debut. The fact that this was only the second game of his life brought back memories of Dan Kerry who in 2007, in his very first at bat of his life hit a home run in the same location over the left-centerfield wall at the Old Diamond of Grovehill Ballpark against pitcher Darrin Ward who was playing for the Milton Keynes Hurricanes at the time.
Next weekend the Falcons travel to Croydon for games against the South London Pirates and the Southampton Mustangs. Both of their opponents are currently below them in the standings and they cannot afford another slip up if they are to stay in the playoff places. Herts Hawks have a home game against the high-flying Guildford Mavericks (10:30am start). This game is followed by the Herts Raptors clash with the Bracknell Inferno at around 2:30pm.
Also this weekend, in the youth leagues the Herts Harriers and Herts Cardinals will play in the Under-19 and Under-15 UK qualifiers with winners progressing through to the European qualifying stage of the Little League World Series.