Battling the ‘Enfield hop’

London Capitals, 11 – Herts Falcons, 9

In a game where forfeit (and consequently the dashing of any playoff berth hopes) looked likely, the Herts Falcons battled adversity all day long in the Father’s Day matchup with the London Capitals.

With a few players unavailable on holiday, Darren Meintjes dealing with a family medical emergency, and the youth contingency of the Falcons running on fumes after back-to-back gruelling Little League qualifier games at the unseasonably hot Farnham Park on Saturday, even fielding nine players looked to be a challenge for the Falcons.

But Arnie Longboy of the Single-A Raptors, happily in the midst of father’s day celebrations, raced up to Enfield to join the squad after a frantic call from his son Zack not 40 minutes before game time. Manager Lee Manning too, dusted off the cleats, as duty called. Outfielder Andrew Skow also answered the call, as the newly registered player, who last played for the Eagles of The American School in London, posted a solid debut.

Despite the cobbling together of the line-up, the day started promising with the Falcons knocking in three runs with their opening salvo against Capital’s ace David Bedard.

Andrew Fulford got the start for the Falcons, pitching well through three innings despite little help from his defense. Fulford only allowed one run in each of the first three innings despite the bases being loaded via a shaky left side of the infield each inning. All day, the Falcons fielders battled the poor conditions of the field, struggling to adjust to the Enfield hop. Meanwhile, Herts added 2 runs in the 3rd to bring their lead to 5-3.

Pictured: John Blose had, long, quality at-bats against the Capitals pitching, contributing 2 hits and 2 walks at the plate and being a menace on the base paths with 2 stolen bases.

In the bottom 4th however, the mistakes began to catch up with Falcons as, after another error-induced based loaded situation, the Capitals dinged Fulford for four runs. Manager Lee Manning then brought in Zack Longboy to try and stop the damage. Longboy proceeded to work out of the jam, keeping the Capitals lead to 7-5.

The Falcons picked up another run in the 6th to narrow the deficit to one run, but after a walk, a hit by pitch and a sharp single to centre off Longboy, the Capitals extended their lead to 9-6.

The 7th inning would be the last time either team would score, as the Falcons rallied for three runs on the backs of John Blose, Miguel Hector and Zack Longboy.  These three led the Falcons offensive attack on the day with Blose pitching in 2 hits, 2 BB and 2 SB, Hector coming through with two clutch singles with runners in scoring position, and Longboy leading the team with 3 hits on the day.

With the game tied 9-9 in the bottom of the 7th Longboy worked quickly through the first two batters. With two outs however, Longboy walked one batter and hit another, putting the Capitals in a position to threaten yet again. A high pop fly between the left and centerfielders looked like a chance to end the inning and escape the jam, but the ball was misplayed and dropped between the two fielders. This allowed two runners to score, giving the Capitals an 11-9 lead that they would not relinquish.

The Capitals bullpen closed out the day with two goose eggs, and the Falcons were left frustrated with a game that, even with a depleted roster, seemed entirely winnable. “It was a really close game that came down to who go the worse bounce of the field more often,” Manager Lee Manning said. “Pitching was great and we put the ball in play during most at-bats.”

Manning added, “I’m very much looking forward to playing the Capitals again next week.”

Next week, the Falcons will look to continue their hot hitting and pitching in a double header matchup against a familiar foe – the London Capitals. Availability, a renewed sense of focus, and an adjustment to the sub-par field conditions at Enfield may help shore up some of the defensive woes and propel the team to a result that seemed more than feasible this past Sunday. The double-header will again have playoff implications as the Falcons chase the Capitals for the last playoff spot.

In other league news, the BFF has yet to announce a ruling on the protest filed by the Herts Falcons against the Southampton Mustangs on April 9th 2017. The Mustangs are accused of fielding an ineligible player, an infraction which would strip the third place team of their playoff eligibility.


Doubleheader: Herts Falcons vs. London Capitals

Game 1: 12:30 p.m.

Game 2: 3:15 p.m.

Location: Enfield Playing Fields, EN1 3SD