The Herts Hawks travelled to face the East London Latin Boys on Sunday (19th August) to fight for a place in the national final of British baseball’s Double-A league.
The fixture renewed a rivalry which had brought some tight and dramatic games over the past two years. In 2018, the Hawks were the only team to beat the Latin Boys, who had won their division and claimed the number 2 seed for the playoffs.
Veteran pitcher Darrin Ward was on the mound again, after his complete game win over Bournemouth last week. That game ended 10-9 to the Hawks thanks to a ninth-inning rally and a walk-off. Things would be different this time.
Ward surrendered an early 1-0 lead, but pitched well to keep it tight until the middle of the fourth inning. Then a Herts fielding error proved costly, and Latin Boys jumped out to a 4-0 lead.
The home side’s starting pitcher Jeffrey Aguilar was dominating the Herts lineup. Only Ward and second baseman Jon Lewys were able to get notable hits.
Latin Boys had another big inning and took a 10-1 lead into the seventh. There was to be no dramatic comeback from Herts this time and it ended 11-1.
Hawks manager Michael Cresswell tipped his hat to the home side, saying they deserved their place in the final. Herts had gone one better than last year, and will return to action in the Spring with their eyes on a title.
In their team statement, the Hawks said that while the result was not what they wanted, there were still smiles all around. “Sometimes it’s just not our day, but we still love the game of baseball.”
Latin Boys face Bristol Badgers in the Double-A final at Farnham Park near Slough, the home of British baseball, next Sunday (26th August)
The Herts Raptors had finished their season in Single-A, but played one more game this past weekend against the Guildford Millers. It was a fixture which was rained off early in the year, but it had been impossible to reschedule it.
Raptors jumped out to a big 20-run lead after 3 innings, and were within a squeak of a mercy rule victory after 5. They led by 14 runs. But Guildford kept plugging away and fighting back.
Home runs from Herts veteran Arnie Longboy and rookie David Grindstaff had powered the offense, and after seven innings they still led by 9. However, it would end with the impressively Single-A score of 36-35. And Guildford were the winners.
It was a fun finale to the year.
The Herts Falcons have one more regular season game to play, a make-up game against the London Mets at Finsbury Park. Then they, too, hope to be heading to playoffs.
The exact permutations for the NBL have not been decided yet, but follow hertsbaseball on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and we will keep you updated.