Homer helps Hawks stay high; Falcons fall

Herts Hawks pitcher Andrew Slater set a new season high for strikeouts as his side beat the Kent Mariners 20-3 at Grovehill ballpark. Slater – also the team’s joint manager – whiffed 7 batters and walked just one in a dominant performance. He now leads the league in wins.

Andrew Slater in pitching action

The Hawks remain unbeaten in the British Baseball Federation’s Single-A league, and are looking to secure top seeding for the playoffs.

The offense was again led by Andy Cornish, who had four hits including a triple and a home run. Sonam Lama scored five runs, while Slater himself had a couple of hits. He praised the team effort: “it was a good performance all around.”

Hit 2, scored 2

The Hawks main rivals in the league are the London Musketeers, who are also unbeaten. On Sunday they were taking on the Herts Raptors on Grovehill’s second diamond. Raptors are mainly new players, but fought hard to stay with the unbeaten London side. It was still a respectable 13-6 in the middle of the fifth inning.

Paul Barton on the mound frequently battled out of tough situations as London threatened to surge ahead. He struck out three and walked only one. Matt Corran made his debut for the team, and impressed everyone when he came on to pitch in relief. He ended with a flourish, with a strikeout.

New players hit well, too. In his first start for the team, Matthew White hit 2 doubles and scored 2 runs, while Darren Priest’s first ever hit was a double. In the end, Musketeers had too much power and they piled on runs to win by 25-6 in seven innings.

Earlier in the day, the Raptors won 9-0 over the Haverhill Blackjacks by forfeit.

Raptors manager Rob Jones said: “We played really well against a tough side, and made some great plays. I am really pleased with the progress new guys have made –they will go far.”

At the top end of the club, the Herts Falcons headed to Farnham Park to take on Bracknell Blazers, and the action didn’t disappoint on a great summer day for baseball. Both teams needed the victories; Falcons to stay in 2nd place and more importantly take a big step towards a guaranteed spot in the playoffs, and Bracknell to fight for a playoff spot.

Falcons’ gremlins

The first game started well for the Falcons who scored two runs in the top of the 1st inning and looked poised to take advantage of starting pitcher Jordan Edmonds, who seemed to be looking to find his rhythm in the mound. On the other hand, the Herts starter Jose Sosa — who lately has struggled a bit in the 1st inning — started full steam.

Jordan then settled in and the defense on both teams was playing quite well with a 5-1 lead to Falcons leading into the bottom of the 4th. With 2 outs, Falcons’ gremlins appeared once again and defensive errors allowed Bracknell to extend the inning. Bracknell took advantage of it and became aggressive at the plate and bases to put more pressure to the defense and they succeeded. After the 4th it was tied 5-5.

In the next inning, Bracknell went ahead but Falcons bounced back in the top of the 6th to tie the game. Bracknell responded and again got the lead at the bottom of the 6th. Falcons couldn’t respond this time in the top of the 7th and Bracknell won 7-6 in a very close game.

Robbie Almanzar (photo: Paul Holdrick)

The 2nd game paired another two aces again with Rei Martinez and Robbie Almanzar starting for the Blazers and Falcons respectively. The game started as a pitching duel with the score 0-0 going into the 4th. Both teams knew the game would be decided by 1 or 2 runs.

However, in the bottom of the 4th Bracknell put a few timely hits together with, of course, some very costly errors by the Falcons, and the score all of a sudden was 4-0. Falcons came back in the top of the 5th with 2 runs and Bracknell added an insurance run in the bottom of the inning. Herts wouldn’t give up and scored another 2 runs in the top of the 6th leaving the score now 5-4 for Bracknell.

But in the bottom of the 6th it all went Bracknell’s way — hitting in the gaps, Falcons making more defensive errors, and Robbie running out of gas. Bracknell put up an insurmountable lead 12-4, and although Falcons scored 2 runs in the top of the 7th, it was too little too late. Final score 12-6.