Five games. Five wins. On a Bank Holiday weekend which saw the best sunshine of the year so far, the sun also shone on the three Herts adult teams.
The Hawks started bright and early on a packed day at Grovehill, kicking off their double header against the Bracknell Inferno at 10am.
Darrin Ward went the distance on the pitching mound in this one. Backed by the bats of Hunter Devine and Jon Lewys, Herts jumped out to a 3-1 lead.
Anthony Lavender hit a double and hosed a runner from the outfield to help the home side to a 7-3 lead in the middle of the fourth, and Herts ran away with it from there. It ended 14-4, and another win for Ward.
The second game saw the Hawks give debuts to some new recruits. Adam Huxley, Leigh Coke and Bryn Coughlan all contributed to an even more convincing victory, 14-0. Coke pitched a one-hit shutout for the W.
The Hawks now move to 4-1 on the season and can be very happy with how things are shaping up.
Over on the other diamond, the Herts Falcons were hosting the new boys in the National Baseball League (NBL), the Birmingham Bandits. This was a fixture rearranged from the Opening weekend washout, and the weather couldn’t have been more different.
In the first half of the double-header, solid hitting helped the home side back up Wade Lynch. He pitched 5 strong innings with 5 strikeouts. Walter Bates went 4-for-4, while a 2-run double from Moise Vasquez was one of the highlights.
The Falcons blew Birmingham away in the bottom of the fifth to secure a mercy rule 17-7 win.
Game 2 was a tighter affair, with Birmingham fighting back after a good start from the Falcons. It was 7-5 to Herts in the middle of the sixth.
But the home side was able to finish it off, Vasquez going 3-for-4 and Dany Bueno contributing 4 RBIs. As the shadows started to lengthen, the Falcons wrapped up a 13-7 win with a catch deep in the left field corner. Aaron Witter, Charlie Mayhew and Phil Clarke combined with the pitching.
In the Single-A league, the Herts Raptors were hosting the Bracknell Phoenix and going in search of their first win of the season.
A couple of strikeouts by starting pitcher Lee Manning couldn’t stop the lead off batter getting round to score. But he threw a chair to the number 6 hitter and closed the door on any more runs.
Then the Herts bats went to work. Bracknell would probably kick themselves that were unable to make some plays, but the Raptors did what they had to do and put the ball in play to make things happen.
There were hits for Giuseppe Basilea and Paul Barton, while James Emblow hit a fine double. By the time it was over, Herts had scored 12 runs to take a stranglehold on the game.
It did all settle down a bit from there. Phoenix hitters got tougher at the plate and chipped back some runs – 2 in the second, 4 in the fourth to make it 20-7.
But Herts were determined not to take their foot off the gas on this day. Manager Matt Jackson scored a run every time he came up, while the only out which Michael Johnson made was a booming fly ball caught near the fence in centre.
Defensively, Herts were sound too, turning a double play to help contain Bracknell. Substitute second-baseman Arnie Longboy took a ground ball up the middle, stepped on the bag and threw on to rookie Tim Bohknecht at first base.
Giuseppe Basilea came on to pitch two excellent innings of relief. And then in the bottom of the fifth Herts needed two for a mercy rule win.
Barton scored the first of them on a groundout, leaving the bases empty. Then Longboy manufactured the winner all by himself with a walk, a steal, a steal and an overthrow.
Raptors celebrated a 24-9 win to go 1-1 on their young season and secure Matt Jackson’s first league victory as manager. Manning got the W as pitcher.