It was a weekend of offensive fireworks for the Herts teams, perhaps inspired by the surprise arrival of some Spring sunshine. Five home runs and three wins were put in the bank.
Let’s start in Single-A, and start with a question. When was a Herts Raptors batter last given an intentional walk? And if you can answer that one, here’s another — when was the last time a Raptors batter was intentionally walked twice in the same game?
It was a fitting reward for a dominant offensive display by Ben Sinclair in Sunday’s home game against the Old Timers. His first at-bat produced an inside-the-park home run, the second a triple.
Before the third he mused about whether to aim for the cycle, and it was suggested that two home runs would look better on the write-up. It seems that Sinclair was listening, as he hit another inside-the-parker.
He reached on an error on his fourth plate appearance, but hit the ball hard so the Old Timers did not pitch to him again.
This all suggests a rosy picture for the Raptors’ day in the sun at Grovehill, but actually they had started the game poorly. The Old Timers hadn’t managed to get a full team to the field, but the players they did have struck hard in the first two innings.
A handful of Herts defensive errors, and too much pressing at the plate, combined to give the visitors a 7-1 lead after two innings. The Old Timers were looking to make their experience pay.
Sinclair drove in three of the first four runs for the home team, but as the game went on more of the young Herts talent settled down and started to deliver, too.
Centre-fielder Michael Johnson went 4-for-6 with three RBIs, and was just a home run short of the cycle. The story was pretty much the same for Tom Carson, making his first ever appearance as catcher, whose four hits included a single, double and triple.
Veteran Arnie Longboy was doing sterling work on the pitching mound. A day after he played for Herts first ever softball team, the Buzzards, in their maiden competition, he threw over a hundred pitches for the Raptors.
He struck out four and walked only three before handing the ball over to Ben Sinclair for the final innings. Longboy helped his own case with four hits, and stayed in the game after an injury as the home side was also pretty short on players.
With improved defense, the Raptors made their superior numbers pay — and perhaps their youth, too. They scored runs in bunches in the second half of the game.
It ended 21-14 to the home side and the Raptors now move to 2-1 on the season.
Rob Jones, the stand-in manager for the day, paid tribute to the performance: “It was great to see the team come back from a bad start. Instead of getting down, they had confidence in their abilities and turned things around.”
Up in the AA-league, the Herts Hawks were stretching out their year-long winning streak to 22 games. Gilberto Medina hit the team’s first home run of 2017 to help them to a 22-6 win at the Guildford Mavericks.
The Hawks’ joint manager, Greg Bochan, was back on the mound for the first time since the epic Single-A final at Farnham Park last year. On his return from a knee injury, he pitched a complete game and took the win.
The Herts Falcons of the National Baseball League were playing at home at Grovehill, hosting the London Capitals. A home run from Moises Velazquez was the big blast early in the first game to give Herts the lead.
It was tied at two apiece by the bottom of the fourth inning, when the Falcons scored six to blow it open. It ended 9-4. Young South African phenom Tyler Badenhorst got the win, with Darren Meintjes getting the save.
Cris Hiche drove a no-doubter over the fence at the start of game 2 of the double-header. But the Capitals came back, and a 2-run homer from their Ben Mercal in the top of the fifth gave them the lead.
The Falcons fought hard but came up short in this one, losing 7-5. They are now 3-6 on the year, and travel to Brighton next.