When Herts under-11s played the Essex Redbacks in Richmond a few weeks ago, the two teams contested a pair of closely-fought games. Essex coach Jamie Cairns suggested that we schedule a couple more meetings between the two neighbouring counties. And so, the travelling Herts All-Stars found themselves in Billericay on a glorious, baking-hot Saturday.
I don’t know much about Essex, so I turned to my trusty web browser for some deep background. As a result, I can reveal the following:
- Essex boasts the sunniest place in the UK. (This comes as no surprise as I inspected my pink legs on Sunday morning.)
- Essex has the largest population of adders in the UK
- Stansted Airport in 1983 was the site of the only known theft of Space Shuttle equipment
- People in Essex are 38% more likely than anywhere else in Britain to be hit by falling aeroplane parts
- The 1974 Paper Lace hit “Billy, Don’t be a Hero” was written in pub near Brentwood, and if you’re over 45 you’ll be humming it for the next three days
- Although it might have been more useful to know this before our trip, Essex also has more speed cameras per mile than anywhere else in the world
- Essex is the home of the oldest door in England, the longest pier in the world, the driest place in Britain, the world’s first public broadcast, the oldest wooden church in the world, and the longest coastline, the smallest town, the largest village and the oldest town in the UK
So it seems that Essex has plenty to offer, if you’re not Chris Huhne, nervous of snakes or running a space programme.
Game One was scheduled for four innings with Herts as the visiting team. Singles by Lewis Auchterlounie and Lucas Lebrato, and a Nicholas Durer hit-by-pitch loaded the bases. Lewis scored on a fielders’ choice with error, and Lucas scored when Josh Jones was also HBP. That was it for Herts, who then took the field with Alex Trautman on the mound. Two quick Ks, but then Essex loaded the bases with a single and a couple of HBPs, before Alex got the third strike-out of the inning. 2-0 Herts.
The second inning was scoreless on both sides, despite singles from Christian Lynch and Lewis. In the third, Alex Trautman and Josh Jones hit singles, both converted into two-base hits with good base running and a fielding error. Joe Gipple hit a line drive single to bring Josh home, and a combination of a single from Alex Jones and a ground rule double from Lewis Auchterlounie brought the third run as Herts took a 5-0 lead. Some good control from Alex Trautman again shut out the Redbacks.
Into the fourth. Nicholas Durer was again hit by a pitch, and some good batting by Alex Trautman, Josh Jones, Joe Gipple and Jonathan Wakelam brought four more runs. Josh Jones then took over as pitcher, and disposed of Essex with a strikeout, a 1-3 groundout and a flyball caught by Lucas Lebrato.
After a break for lunch and plenty of water, it was time for game two. This was a three-inning contest, with Herts now the home team. Josh Jones continued with pitching duties. Essex scored their first run of the day through some good hitting and a couple of fielding errors, and were 1-0 up in the middle of the first. Herts again dominated with the bat, with singles from Joe Gipple and Christian Lynch and doubles from Lucas Lebrato, and Josh Jones.
Christian Lynch now came on to pitch, giving up three hits and three runs as Essex found some form with the bat. In reply, another double from Lewis Auchterlounie started the ball rolling for Herts, followed up with hits for Alex Trautman, Joe Gipple, Jonathan Wakelam, Alex Jones and Nicholas Durer (finally connecting with his bat rather than his chest). Lucas Lebrato fired a big ground rule double to score the maximum fifth run and leave Herts 10-3 ahead.
There it remained as Christian picked up three strike-outs to close out the game.
These were two fairly comprehensive wins for Herts; the difference between the two teams was probably the speed and accuracy of Herts’ pitchers. We are fortunate to have a number of good pitchers on the Herts roster, whose skills have been sharpened over the season in the regular tussles between the Dodgers and the Giants. There were some good performances at the plate, too, particularly from Lewis Auchterlounie, 4-4 in the day (and climbing up the batting averages as a result), Josh Jones (3-3 and 4 RBIs), Joe Gipple (4-5) and Lucas Lebrato who hit two doubles and claimed two RBIs.
Another Dodgers/Giants battle takes place this coming Saturday. This will be followed the following week by a return fixture when the Essex Redbacks come to Hertfordshire. We can’t offer snakes, tumbling aeronautical components or even much in the way of a coastline, but we do provide a warm welcome, quality doughnuts and a stiff northerly wind.