by Andrew Cornish at Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
photos by Rob Jones
I am here to tell you about a story that occurred on Sunday 23rd April, St George’s Day, between the unbeaten Herts Hawks and Richmond Dragons. The last time that the Hawks lost a game was in 2015, but with promotion to a higher league, would it be too much for the Hertfordshire-based team?
The start of the game was delayed due to traffic issues which affected the visitors from Richmond. When the game started Herts wasted no time in building a lead. Herts players were aggressive and their fielding and pitching were solid, which has been characteristic for the team throughout their winning run. After just three innings they were leading 12-1.
Richmond were able to pull back a few runs in the top of the fourth and again in the top of the sixth inning, reducing the lead to 7-14. The bottom of the sixth saw an interesting incident which prompted some quick decision-making. With one down and the bases loaded, Andy Cornish launched a towering pop-up, which eluded the Dragons shortstop. With Mike Cresswell tagging-up and breaking from third base after the ball had landed he reached home safely to score while Jon Lewys was forced out at second. The consistent and fair umpire called time and after a brief discussion with the managers, much like the top MLB umpires, corrected the initial call to ‘Infield Fly’ which meant that batter Andy Cornish was called out and the runners were sent back to their original bases, with no runs scored in that play. With two outs Gilberto Medina drove the second pitch of the at-bat for a double, which brought in two more runs and a total of four runs for Herts in that inning.
After completing 6 innings and throwing 91 pitches, Herts Manager Andy Slater was spent and decided to go to the bullpen, calling on Aspi Dimitrov to close the game out with the score at 18-7. Richmond bats came alive, the hits starting to land in gaps and errors from the normally consistent Herts fielders meant that Richmond pulled back an impressive 10 runs in the top of the seventh inning, with only 3 runs charged against Dimitrov. Herts were not able to reply in the bottom of the seventh, and the score remained 18-17. It was getting tense. The top of the eight was a more settled affair, with Herts able to hold Richmond scoreless to get back on track. The Hawks scored 2 runs in the bottom of the eight inning to increase the lead and Dimitrov was able to lock them down in the top of the 9th with a final score of 20-17.
The game was exciting, with only one inning causing Herts some trouble but the team was able to regroup and finish off the game against a tricky and strong batting side. Extra credit should be given to the Richmond pitcher, Ben Carter, who seemed to have a rubber arm, throwing an amazing 196 pitches, as well as Hunter Devine for overcoming some extreme working conditions behind the plate.