Slugfest between Falcons and Bruins suspended in 5th inning with the game tied

Slugfest between Falcons and Bruins suspended in 5th inning with the game tied

The Herts Falcons came agonisingly close to producing an astonishing comeback in the first game of their two-game series away at the Sheffield Bruins but there was a sense of déjà vu as they lost the lead and suffered another walk-off defeat.  However, the Hertfordshire team have a glimmer of hope as they battled back in the second game of this series. The outcome of that game will be decided later in the season as a thunderstorm put a sudden halt to proceedings.

The Herts Falcons set themselves the task of winning both games of this series but they found themselves in deep trouble trailing 2-7 after just 3 innings. Bruins starting pitcher Jonathan Rodriguez was in control. It wasn’t until the fifth inning that the visitors really started to cause him problems. A single for Cris Hiche and a sacrifice fly for Alex Deacon drove in two runs to reduce the deficit to 4-7.   

The onslaught continued in the sixth inning as they not only tied the game but took an 11-10 lead which included a 3-run home run by catcher Phil Clark (video above) deep to right field. The Bruins responded with home runs by Luis Frometa and Josh Taylor which put them back on top leading 13-11 going into the final inning.

The drama continued as the Falcons loaded the base and squeezed two runs in to tie the game again but couldn’t stop Sheffield in the bottom of the inning as they won it 14-13 thanks to back-to-back doubles by Manuel Silvestre and Luke Armstrong.

Game One Box Scores

The disappointment of producing an incredible comeback only to lose the game at the very end was clear to see on the faces of the Falcons as they prepared for the second game of the series.

First career home run in the NBL for 51-year-old Tetsuro Shinkawa lifted the team (photo by Tony Small)

That pressure seemed to evaporate and the players looked a lot more relaxed as the team took a 3-2 lead after a 3-run home run by second baseman, Tetsuro Shinkawa – his first in his long NBL career. They extended that lead to 8-2 with 5 runs in the next inning after hits by Harry Quixley, Cris Hiche and another for Phil Clark who went 4-for-8 with 5 RBI over the two games.

With heavy dark clouds fast approaching and teams anxiously looking at the live rainfall radar on the MetOffice website, the two managers had to consider the possibility of the game being called and the importance of being in the lead if that was to occur.

As Herts were starting to run out of pitchers, the Bruins came alive with home runs for Jonathan Rodriguez, Luis Frometa, Jordon Grocott and Daniel Moran who made his debut for Sheffield after his transfer from Herts.

photo by Will Baxter

Moran also took the mound in relief which produced the very rare occurrence of two brothers facing each other when Matt Moran (pictured above) stepped up to bat and was promptly hit by his younger brother’s pitch.

The 6 runs scored by Sheffield in the bottom of the 5th inning tied the game at 12-12.  The clouds could no longer hold back and the game was suspended as the sudden downpour flooded the field within a few minutes. The strength of the rain was such that umbrellas and gazebos were of no use at all and players, officials and fans ran for cover in the Hawk and Dove pub located next to the diamond.

The game is expected to be completed when the two teams meet for the final time in the regular season in Sheffield on Sunday, 6 August.  The game will resume in the bottom of the sixth inning with the score 12-12, runner on second base with one out.

Game Two Box Scores

The Sheffield Bruins have the advantage over the Herts Falcons in the NBL Playoff race going into the second half of the regular season but the Hertfordshire team are still in it if they can win this suspended game and start picking up wins against teams above them in the standings which they have shown that they are capable of doing.

The teams in the NBL and the other three BBF league tiers take a break next week as British baseball fans prepare to celebrate a week of MLB London Series events culminating with the two games between the Chicago Cubs and the St Louis Cardinals at the 60,000 all-seater London Stadium.