Formosa Islanders 21-20 Herts Ducks
by Kumail Jaffer
“You guys refused to die.”
One off-hand but sincere comment from the Formosa Islanders manager summed up the tenacity and grit the Herts Ducks showed in their inaugural Double-A fixture on Sunday.
The Formosa Islanders are a formidable outfit, having come through the Single-A ranks with their high-energy approach.
The Ducks were not intimidated at all as they played out this epic fixture at Wormwood Scrubs – but fell short, at the last, of a miraculous comeback.
The home side took on the Ducks’ ace Alex Trautman to score four in the first inning – but the young pitcher locked it down in his remaining innings to limit the Islanders’ hit-and-run approach.
On the other end, the Ducks were going steadily, if unspectacularly. 8-5 down after the fourth inning, the Ducks needed something special to gain control of the game.
The team had done well to drive up the opposing pitcher’s count with every at bat, meaning walks were becoming more regular. Four in a row brought home Kumail Jaffer, Prime Mencias, Alex Trautman, and Max Trautman. Solid hits from Evan Robins scored Bradley Charalambous and Jake Spicer before Alex Trautman returned to the batter’s box with the bases loaded.
On a full count, the ace pitcher launched it well beyond the left field fence to score a grand slam and bring the Ducks’ total for the inning to double digits.
He followed it up by allowing just a single run through in the next inning, putting the Ducks firmly in control. But after a score draw in the sixth, the Islanders got back into the game with a monster 7th-inning rally to put them 18-17 ahead.
But the Ducks never stopped quacking. Three runs at the top of the 9th saw them needing to lock down the Formosa side to take the game to extra innings.
It wasn’t to be.
But the spirit shown away from home against a very solid outfit is encouraging.
Captain Brad Charalambous said: “I am so unbelievably proud of the Ducks for coming together and battling it out with the Islanders.
“They are a well established and respected team and having the opportunity to play them was an excellent chance to test where we are in the pecking order.
“I’m proud of my Ducks for flying together and staying In the thick and thin of such a tough game.
“Like Henry Ford says, ‘Coming together is a beginning, staying together is progress, and working together is success.'”