Ravens sweep up in Essex

Ravens sweep up in Essex

The Herts Ravens continued their unbeaten start to the season, when they visited the Essex Redbacks in Chelmsford on Sunday (26th May). But it was not all plain sailing.

Herts opened up Game 1 with a single and a steal from Hunter Devine, who was then driven in by a double from Zak Beller. So far, so normal. Beller came around to score, too.

The Ravens ace pitcher, Nic Goetz, was on the mound. He racked up three strikeouts in the first two frames. Again, pretty normal. But Essex also got three hits and a walk in the early innings – pretty unusual. And the Herts bats just weren’t able to get good contact against the Redbacks’ starter Ben Brett.

After four innings, the Ravens led 2-1, and it was time for a manager’s pep talk. The team’s defense had helped keep things that tight – with Greg Bochan at third base making a series of strong throws to narrowly get runners at first.

Youth and experience

Now, at last, Herts strung together some hits. Sony Lama drove a triple out to right field – by far the best hit of the day. Zak Beller followed up with a single, and went 3-for-4 on the day. Andrew Slater singled, too, and 3 runs crossed to pad the lead.

Goetz gave up one more walk but also rediscovered the legendary zip on his fastball. He also fielded his position brilliantly and helped prevent any sort of Essex rally. He had gritted through for the win, with the final score 6-1.

Game 2 saw patient at-bats and strong hits from the visitors from the very start, and the first maximum 5-run inning of the day. Slater brought his famous curveball to work, and a groundout, a strikeout and a pop-out expertly taken by catcher, Devine, quickly ended a scoreless first.

Slater was supremely efficient, with the record showing he threw 30 pitches – 21 for strikes. And he was backed up by the Ravens offense. New recruits Lewis Auchterlounie and Matt Lewis worked walks and scored runs, as they blended well with the veterans of the team.

Henry Bell pitching

And again the defense stood firm. Zak Beller took an impressive catch when a bloop hit threatened to fall in the dead zone behind shortstop and second. And Henry Bell – who closed out the game with an 8-pitch clean inning – ended it all with a smooth-as-silk snaring of a sharp comebacker, and a throw to first. This one ended 20-0.

Essex were genial hosts on a day which swung from hot sunshine to heavy showers, and the game was played in a good spirit, peppered with one-liners from the umpire. On Sunday the Ravens head to Milton Keynes for the first time this year to face a team which pushed them all the way to the division title last season.