Everyone expected sixth-placed Herts Falcons to suffer a heavy defeat away at the reigning champions London Mets on Saturday but it’s a sign of the enormous strides which the team has made over the last few weeks as they left Finsbury Park disappointed to lose the lead and the game in the late innings.
The Mets won the first game of this series after a number of defensive errors gave the Mets an 8-0 lead after the first two innings. It was always going to be difficult to catch the Mets after that but something changed after those first two innings. The Falcons not only regained composure but started to turn the game around. 15-year-old pitcher Tomohiro Tamura came in relief and allowed only 1 hit for the remaining 5 innings of the game. Catcher Alex Paterson contributed behind the plate throwing out two base stealers. Offensively, they found it difficult against the Mets ace pitcher Chris Messer but the momentum was changing.
In 30oC temperatures on the hottest day of the year so far, the players may have looked subdued as they preserved their energy but they could sense that they have a chance to cause a major shock in the second game of the doubleheader.
The Mets scored 5 runs in the first inning after four singles and a home run by Rich Minford but that didn’t seem to faze the Herts Falcons. They tied the game up in the next inning which included a 3-run home run by Cris Hiche to right centerfield.
Pitchers Will Clayton and Tasuku Ishihara kept Mets quiet for the next 2 innings and managed to get out of a major jam allowing only one run to score after the bases were loaded with no outs. Back came the Falcons in the top of the 5th inning not only to tie the game but to take an 8-6 lead after a 2-run triple by Dylan Lawler and a third run came in after Tasuku Ishihara’s second double of the day.
The Mets showed why they sit at the top of the NBL table and they responded to win the game 13-10.
But the Falcons’ performance was a clear statement that they are very much in this battle for the playoff places. The last time these two teams met was on Opening Day when the Mets won 0-16 and 0-19. The team’s display on Saturday was on a completely different level. They scored 10 runs in that second game which is the most runs conceded by the champions this season on 11 hits against their formidable pitching staff and defence.
Apart from this NBL doubleheader, the day included five other games between Herts and Mets youth teams and made it a real celebration of baseball.
All focus now turns to next Sunday’s huge series away at the Sheffield Bruins who currently occupy the fourth playoff spot. If the Falcons win both games of that doubleheader they will go neck and neck with the Bruins.