On a day where the Falcons could barely cobble together a 9-man side, Herts limped to a 10-4 loss against the first place London Mets.
Injuries to Conner Brown (tricep), Darren Meintjes (finger) and the absences of shortstop Louis Hare, second basemen Ian McCann and Moises Vasquez, and catcher Phil Clark meant that the Falcons were far from full strength.
Above: With regular catchers Conner Brown and Phil Clark sidelined due to injury and family commitments, Manager Lee Manning was forced to don the ‘tools of ignorance’ for Sunday’s game against the Mets.
So there the Falcons found themselves, down 5 starters, facing the NBL’s premier team. The only potential saving grace? The schedule. Sunday would be a single 7-inning game matchup, and in baseball, especially 7-inning baseball, anything can happen.
The game started very promising with Mets starter Maxwell Tyler issuing leadoff walks to both Brown (playing as the designated hitter) and John Blose, before a 2-RBI single from Tyler Badenhorst broke open the scoring.
The lead however didn’t last long. In the bottom of 1st the Mets’ bats rallied for a barrage of 4 runs against the Falcons’ starter Zack Longboy. Throughout the game Longboy, who has pitched well in recent weeks, struggled to find his normal command on his fastball, forcing him to rely almost exclusively on his knuckleball. Although this kept hitters off balance from the 2nd-5th innings (1 earned run), it did lead to costly walks for Longboy.
After the 1st, Tyler settled down and carved up the Falcons lineup, going the next four innings without a run crossing the plate. After a smattering of runs (earned and unearned) across the middle innings, Tyler exited the game in the 5th with his team up 9-2.
Replacing him was Mets reliever Elijah Hackney-Rose, a familiar face for some Herts players who had played with him for Great Britain youth teams. And maybe this familiarity helped the Falcons as Brown (a catcher for Hackney-Rose on the GB side) opened with a hard hit single and the frame ended with 2 more Herts runs having crossed the plate.
However, the score wouldn’t get much closer than 9-4 as London rallied to score another run off of Longboy in the 6th drawing the game to its final score of 10-4. The result ends what has been a run of good form that the Falcons have put up against their recent opponents (splitting the last two doubleheaders), however Manning is confident that, with a full squad, the Falcons can stay competitive even against top teams like London.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Filling in With the rash of injuries and absences plaguing the Falcons, two players rostered in lower levels of the organization were called on to perform on Sunday. Aspi Dimitrov (who had been on brief hiatus) returned with consistent play in centerfield and even picked up a single in his last at-bat. Single A player Rodney Naghar also made an impact, showing good glove work at first base and hitting a double to left field.
Tak-ing off The Falcons bid farewell to one of their more consistent performers on Sunday as the beloved Takaya Miki played in his final NBL game before leaving for a university placement in Japan. Miki has been a defensive stopper for Herts this year, consistently filling a corner outfield spot, and his bat had heated up in recent weeks. He will be greatly missed by his teammates and Manager who wish only the best for him and his future.
The Falcons have a two-game home stand on July 31st against the 2nd place Southampton Mustangs (21-3). First pitch for Game 1 is at 12 PM and Game 2 is scheduled to begin at 3 PM