Ahead of the third week of the Hunlock Series the Red Kites and Blue Rockers had a mountain to climb to catch up with the Black Barracudas who had a commanding lead in the standings. By Sunday evening both teams managed to close that gap to set up an exciting finale next Sunday, 15 October.
To start the day the reigning Hunlock Series champions, Red Kites, edged the Blue Rockers with two wins, one loss and a tie in the four games between the two teams.
All the players seem to up their game when Conner Brown is in town (photo by Rob Jones)
The Blue Rockers then bounced back with much better performances in the next four games against the Black Barracudas picking up one win, two ties and a loss, thanks to dominant performances by Conner Brown and Cris Hiche. They worked together well as pitcher and catcher, swapping their positions halfway through those games.
IN BASEBALL YOU HAVE TO KNOW WHEN AND HOW TO CELEBRATE
The Blue Rockers’ would have had an even better record at the end of the day if it wasn’t for a strange case of premature celebration of a walk-off win which ended up costing them dearly. In the bottom of the last inning with the score tied and the bases loaded, Dany Bueno had a good at bat against ace pitcher Mike Wakelam and was rewarded by getting on base on a hit-by-pitch. This gave his team a walk-off win as that hit-by-pitch meant that all the runners advanced one base and the runner on third base came in to score the winning run. The runner on first base was Aspi Dimitrov and as he started running towards the dugout and high-fiving Dany Bueno to congratulate him on earning his team a win everything seemed normal, until the loud voice of plate umpire, Darrin Muller, was suddenly heard saying “Batter is out. Run does not score”. There could be no argument that the hit-by-pitch was a game-winning and game-ending play, but under the rules the game is not over until the batter physically steps on first base. Bueno was on his way to step on first base but the runner ahead of him on first base ended up behind the batter violating the rule that a runner cannot overtake the runner ahead of them.
Whether it was the fact that the Hunlock Series has the fast-paced format and Dimitrov was going towards the dugout to quickly get set for the next inning, or perhaps the fact that time was called by the umpire as soon as the batter was hit by the pitch, this may have contributed to what occurred, but the rules of the game have to be observed. It must be said that many umpires may have missed this fine technical detail, but on this occasion the game was umpired by the most experienced and best umpire in the UK. Blue Rockers pitcher Cris Hiche spent a long time hoping to find something in the rulebook which would bring the win back for the Rockers. For example, does the fact that time was called when the batter was hit by the pitch have an effect on the ruling? Unfortunately for the Blue Rockers not even OJ Simpson’s legal team could get them out of this one.
MEMORIES OF 1999 NLCS
Over 2,430 games of baseball, plus the postseason, are played in MLB every year, but we don’t see this occur very often. The MLB incident which comes closest is the so called “Grand Slam Single” by Robin Ventura for the New York Mets in the 1999 National League Championship Series. The Atlanta Braves had a 3–2 lead going into the bottom of the 15th inning. The Mets loaded the bases against Braves relief pitcher Kevin McGlinchy. Mets catcher Todd Pratt drew a bases loaded walk, tying the score 3–3. The next batter was Mets third baseman Robin Ventura with the bases still loaded. Ventura crushed the 2–1 pitch over the wall in right-center for a grand slam, winning the game for the Mets and driving the Mets players and fans into a frenzied celebration. Ventura, however, never reached second base as Todd Pratt, the runner who was on first, picked up Ventura in celebration.
Subsequently, Ventura was mobbed by his teammates, never finishing his trot around the bases. Because he failed to touch all four bases, the hit was officially scored a single. Roger Cedeño, the runner on third at the time, was ruled the only runner to have crossed home plate before the on-field celebration began and the Mets were awarded a 4–3 victory. Thus, Ventura was only credited with a single and one RBI.
After this incident, we can say with certainty that Herts teams will be celebrating walk-off wins very carefully when the 2018 British baseball league season begins.
SERIES NICELY POISED FOR FINAL WEEK
Anyway, to wrap-up week 3 of the Hunlock Series, Red Kites ended the day with 2 wins and two ties against the Black Barracudas and as a result they stand just one game back in the standings ahead of the final round of games on Sunday, 15 October. Blue Rockers are also in contention just 3.5 games back with 8 games to play.
It is not too late to play in these games. Free agents players, experienced or complete beginners, can contact us for details how to take part.