Category: Falcons

Herts Falcons closing the performance gap against the champions

Herts Falcons closing the performance gap against the champions

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.

Game One Box Scores

Cris Hiche hit his third home run of the season (photo by Will Baxter)

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.

Tasuku Ishihara was firing on all cylinders versus the Mets (photo by Will Baxter)

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.

Game Two Box Scores

photo by Richard Williams

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.

Adult and Youth League Roundup: Ducks and Raptors pick up wins. Falcons gain ground without swinging a bat.

Adult and Youth League Roundup: Ducks and Raptors pick up wins. Falcons gain ground without swinging a bat.

Triple-A League

Herts Cardinals almost pulled off The Great Escape in Game Two of their doubleheader away at the Croydon Pirates but came just short with a final score of 12-13. Croydon also won the first game 3-8. The Cardinals drop two places in the standings and are now third, two games back on leaders Bournemouth Bears.

Double-A League

The Herts Ducks  shocked the Double-A League leaders, East London Latin Boys, with an 11-7  away win. This was their first win of the season. 15-year-old Prime  Mencias was the winning pitcher. Read full report by Kumail Jaffer.

Single-A League

There was an All Herts match-up at Basing Hill Ballpark.  The Herts Raptors came out on top sweeping the Herts Eagles 10-7 and 14-6. The winning pitchers were Lee Dunn and Rufus Lloyd. The Raptors are now 4-2 which moves them into second place in the standings, leapfrogging the Herts Ravens who were resting this weekend.

National Baseball League

(photo by Will Baxter)

The Falcons were resting at the weekend but there was drama around the National Baseball League. The Sheffield Bruins were 1 out away from winning at the high-flying Essex Arrows, but the Arrows came back to win it in extra innings. London Capitals caused an upset splitting their series with the league leading London Mets. All this means that the Falcons have gained ground on fourth-placed Sheffield Bruins and are just two games back on them now.  Third-placed Capitals stay ahead of the Falcons by 4 games. The top four teams at the end of the regular season will qualify for the NBL postseason playoffs in August.

The Herts Falcons are away at the Mets next. Game starts 2PM, Saturday, 10 June, Finsbury Park.

Herts Youth Baseball League

(photo by Rob Jones)

There was just one youth league game on Saturday in the Under-11 division.  The Herts Cardinals U11 came from behind to win 6-5 and close the gap on first-placed Herts Londoners U11.

Link to league standings of the various adult and youth leagues

Falcons back in NBL playoff race after walk-off win

Falcons back in NBL playoff race after walk-off win

There was late inning drama at Grovehill Ballpark once again. This time the Herts Falcons came out on top after a rejuvenated performance against the Essex Arrows who are one of the leading teams this season winning 8 out of their first 10 games and who feature a number of players with experience in MLB minor league teams.

(photo by Will Baxter)

Alex Deacon was the starting pitcher for the Falcons in the first game of this doubleheader. He allowed only 6 hits in his 6 innings of work, striking out 6. On another day, this may have been enough but, at this hitter-friendly ballpark, 4 out of those 6 hits were home runs. Still, the Falcons maintained their composure and gradually worked their way back into the game.  Phil Clark responded with a solo home run of his own to pull one back.  Two more runs came in after a hit from Dan Moran and a wild pitch which made the score 4-3 to the visitors going into the sixth inning. But it wasn’t enough as the Arrows took the game beyond the Falcons with a final score of 9-4.

Game One Box Scores

Going into the second game, there was a real concern for Herts fans that, if they lose the second game, the Falcons may drift too far behind the teams chasing a place in the National Baseball League (NBL) postseason playoffs.

For a team featuring so many young players, it was expected that heads would drop but, last week and this week, the team’s confidence and performance levels have risen noticeably and the players have demonstrated an ability to focus on the task at hand and not be affected by the difficult start of the season.

Cole Nakazawa (left) went 4-for-4 and Ben Morris (right) 2-for-4 on a good day for Herts bats (photo by Will Baxter)

They took an early 2-0 lead on hits from Cole Nakazawa, Ben Morris, Cris Hiche and Phil Clark. 3 runs for Essex put the home team on the back foot again but they retook the lead with 2 runs of their own in the fourth inning.  Back came the Arrows late in the game to take a 5-4 lead going into the final inning. For the fans who stayed to the end, it felt like it would be another gut-wrenching loss as the Falcons were about to bat with 3 outs remaining.

Back-to-back doubles by Tasuku Ishihara and Cole Nakazawa tied the game. Players and fans in the ballpark were on their feet. A Ben Morris single put the winning run on third base.  Arrows’ manager, Eduardo Rodrigues, made the strategic decision to walk Mike Cresswell intentionally and load the bases. It looked like that decision may pay off as their relief pitcher Galvez Rodriguez struck out Phil Clark for the second out. All the pressure fell on Herts third baseman, Jack Warrington, and he delivered the walk-off hit which sparked wild celebrations as the Falcons bench cleared and started chasing him around the field.

The losing streak is over. The release for the players, coaching staff and fans was palpable with so much pressure on the team to win this game.

Game Two Box Scores

(photo by Will Baxter)

Starting pitcher, Will Clayton, had his best game of the season so far allowing only 5 hits and 2 earned runs in his 5.1 innings of work. The win was awarded to Daniel Moran who did not falter in the final 1.2 innings.

The Falcons are still 3 games back on the fourth-placed Sheffield Bruins but have closed the gap on the third-placed London Capitals who were swept in their two-game series against the Mets.  This win for the Falcons against one of the top NBL teams was not factored in anyone’s calculations and is a major boost for them going into the business end of the season.

Between the two games Herts fans took part in The Race involving kids and adults competing against each other for a prize. 3 foul balls were caught during the game earning those fans a hot dog each (photo by Will Baxter)

A large number of fans came out to support the Falcons, including club legends, Geoff Hare and former manager, Stuart Boast, who threw out the ceremonial first pitch. The next eight games for the Falcons are on the road and we expect a good number of Herts baseball fans to go and support the team at these away games starting with the trip to the league leading London Mets on 10 June at Finsbury Park.  First pitch is at 2pm. The next chance to see the Falcons at home is on 16 July when they welcome the London Latin Boys.

Battling Falcons performance but no upset

Battling Falcons performance but no upset

The Herts Falcons put on a much improved performance away at the Essex Arrows but it was not enough to cause a major shock against one of the pace-setters in the National Baseball League this season.

Falcons starting pitcher Jack McCarthy limited the Arrows to only five hits in his five innings on the mound which gave his team a chance in the first game of this doubleheader. But they struggled to find a way past Essex’s pitcher, German Obando, who was in command from the start. In this fast-moving game which was completed in 1 hour and 53 minutes, the Arrows gradually extended their lead to 4-0. 

It wasn’t until the final inning of the game that the Herts offence came to life. The top three players of their batting line-up all reached base and clawed one run back against the Essex relief pitcher who came in to close the game.  A single from Matt Moran loaded  the bases with one out and the Herts players and travelling  fans were on their feet sensing an opportunity to win this game when everyone had written their chances off.  

Arrows manager, Eduardo Rodrigues, took urgent action and brought relief pitcher Juan Farrach in to put out the fire which he did by recording two quick outs. Final score 4-1.

Game One Box Scores

The second game of the doubleheader did not have the late inning drama of the first but the visitors performed much better than the 2-12 score line would suggest. 

Game Two Box Scores

photo by Will Baxter

The Falcons will certainly want to carry the positive signs from today to the next game, including the five hits in the second game, as well as the successful relief appearance by Alex Deacon in the first game.

The team is now three games back from the fourth-placed Sheffield Bruins who won a thriller in extra innings against the London Capitals. The Falcons are not out of the playoff chase and their performances indicate that they are gathering momentum, but they need to start picking up wins before the rest of the pack pulls away beyond their reach.

Their next game is at home this Sunday, 28 May, once again against the Essex Arrows. First pitch is at 1pm at Grovehill Ballpark and tickets are currently on sale here.

Setback for Herts Falcons in the playoff race

Setback for Herts Falcons in playoff race

The Herts Falcons lost both games of their home series against the Sheffield Bruins which could prove to be critical at the end of the season.

Before the games, the Falcons were in fifth place, one game ahead of the Bruins who were sixth in the National Baseball League (NBL) standings. They had identified this series as key not only to pull away from the Bruins but to leapfrog the fourth-placed London Latin Boys and go into the playoff zone.

Game One was tied at 1-1 after three innings but Herts had a repeat of the previous week where a couple of bad innings allowed the opponent to run away with the game.  Player manager, Cris Hiche hit a solo home run late in the game but it wasn’t enough to mount a comeback and the game ended with a final score of 2-12. The winning pitcher for Sheffield was Elbis Avila who pitched a complete game allowing only four hits.

Game One Box Scores

While game one proved to be one-sided, the second game of the doubleheader provided intense late inning drama. The ballpark saw the highest attendance of the season so far, and those who stayed to the end were kept on the edge of their seats.

The Falcons took an early 1-0 lead and seemed to be in control but a crushing grand slam home run by Andrei Apostoaei put the Falcons on the back foot again. They tied the game with three runs in the bottom of the third but the Bruins responded immediately with another four runs in the fourth.

Patient at bats combined with hits by Cris Hiche, Fraser Duggan and Tetsuro Shinkawa brought the Falcons right back in the game. They loaded the bases with two outs in the final inning and the score 9-10 but Sheffield managed to get the final out and sweep the series.

Game Two Box Scores

The game saw a large number of kids and families in attendance who were seeing a baseball game in person for the first time. The children played catch with their parents and many showed interest in coming to try baseball with the Herts youth teams. Growing the fan base and the Herts youth baseball programme was one of the aims of the club’s NBL Pilot Project. Will one of these boys and girls go on to play for the Herts Falcons in the NBL in a few years?

The team’s next game is on Sunday, 21 May, away at the Essex Arrows who are currently occupy second place in the NBL table. This is followed by the Falcons’ next home game on Sunday, 28 May, when the Arrows will come to Grovehill Ballpark. Tickets for the game are on sale here.

Herts Falcons manager Cris Hiche will have the task of lifting the players after this setback. Qualification for the postseason Playoffs is still in their own hands, but they need to start picking up wins, especially in the key matchups against direct opponents in the Playoff race.

Falcons back in the playoff race after win over Latin Boys

Falcons back in the playoff race after win over Latin Boys

The Herts Falcons played two games away at the East London Latin Boys on Coronation weekend and picked up their first win of the season.

Both teams went into this series with a record of no wins and four losses from their first four games, desperate for a win against a direct opponent in the battle to finish in the top four places.

The team from Hertfordshire took a 6-1 lead after three innings, which included two runs scored on two balks by pitcher Jose Martinez. This was only the second time that the Falcons have had a lead in a game this season but this time they held onto it to the end.

A 2-run home run by Ben Sporleder in the fifth inning and his 2-run double in the sixth extended the lead to 10-1.

photo by Will Baxter

Player-manager, Cristobal Hiche (pictured above), also went deep with a 2-run home run of his own to give his team’s pitching staff and defence a little more breathing room going into the closing innings of the game.

Starting pitcher Dan Moran was effective throughout, allowing only three hits in five and two-third innings. Relief pitcher, Tasuku Ishihara, came on to strike out Jeffrey Aguilar for the final out of the game with a final score of 12-2.

The team struggled defensively  in the first four games of the season but on this occasion the fielding was exemplary without any errors. It included two double plays involving middle-infielders Dylan Lawler and Tetsuro Shinkawa and several spectacular plays by left fielder, Ben Morris, who made his Herts debut.

In the second game the Falcons struggled with the bats against Latin Boys’ pitcher, Jorge Luis, who allowed only one hit and struck out 11 batters. They also struggled defensively allowing 13 runs in the second and third innings and there was no coming back from that. The final score 0-15.

Both teams will probably be happy to have picked up a win each which lifted them above the Sheffield Bruins into fourth and fifth place and very much in the thick of the battle for the four playoff places.

After the game, Falcons infielder, Rene Torcato, said that “the team will aim to take the positive momentum from today into the next game at home versus the Sheffield Bruins on Sunday, 14 May, which is another key series in the playoff race”.

Tickets for that game are currently on sale here.

Herts gets first ever PA announcer

Herts gets first ever PA announcer

The official National Baseball League Opening Day at Grovehill Ballpark on Saturday marked not only a big step for Herts Baseball Club’s NBL Pilot Project. It also marked the arrival of Gabriel Fidler as the club’s first ever official announcer. Best known as Chair of the British Baseball Hall of Fame and founder of Extra Innings UK, Fidler began his career as colour commentator for perennial NAIA World Series contender Lee University in the U.S.

At Lee, Fidler completed a joint B.A. in broadcasting and history, working for the university’s Sports Information Department under local legend and inductee to multiple Halls of Fame, George Starr. Among his many duties over six years with Flames Athletics, Fidler travelled around the U.S. with Lee’s baseball and basketball teams as its full-time radio broadcaster alongside Starr. He also served as the regular P.A. for the four-time national champion women’s football side, and the men’s football team, which produced two MLS draftees.

Since then, Fidler – who was raised in Suffolk before moving to the U.S. – has held roles as public address announcer for the 2018 NCAA Division III New England Baseball Regional, hosted at the Cape Cod League’s Whitehouse Field in Harwich, Mass., and for four sports at Massachusetts Maritime Academy, including the Grand Re-Opening of its Hendy Baseball Field. He also served as a guest on numerous radio programmes and baseball podcasts in the U.K. and U.S.

At the 2019 London Series, Fidler returned to the mic alongside Chris Knoblock as the duo broadcast the London Cup, which featured multiple British Little League squads playing in the shadow of the Queen Elizabeth II Olympic Stadium. As part of his role with BaseballSoftballUK, he also coordinated London Series’ legacy events, including media coordination for the Elite Tournament at Farnham Park, a press conference with MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred and USA Baseball’s Rick Riccobono to announce the launch of Fun At Bat in East London schools, and various other activities.

‘We want to make NBL game days an amazing experience for fans, and this is a brilliant new addition for the club,’ noted Herts President Aspi Dimitrov. ‘Gabriel has long had contacts with Herts, and we are excited that he is taking on this role.’

Fidler has a connection to Herts Baseball, as he co-founded Durham University’s baseball team in 2016 with Will Zucker, then a rising prospect for Herts and Under-15 selection for Great Britain. Zucker, of course, is now Herts’ Co-Director of Youth Baseball and has since suited up for the GB U23 squad. Under their leadership, Durham played in three countries in its first season, sent two squads to the 2016 Spring National University Baseball Championship (NUBC), and claimed the 2016 Autumn and 2018 Spring NUBC titles with its first team.

‘I am thrilled to join Herts as public address announcer in time for Opening Day and the launch of its ambitious NBL Pilot Project,’ remarked Fidler. ‘I first became aware of Herts through Will and am fortunate to count Aspi as a friend now as well. With the return of MLB clubs to Britain for this year’s London Series and the success of Great Britain Baseball at the WBC, enthusiasm for baseball in the U.K. is at an all-time high. As the sport develops further in Britain, Herts is positioned to take a leading role and I look forward to playing a small part in its endeavours.’

As a credentialled journalist, Fidler has also reported live from numerous top baseball events, including the 2016 MLB Battlegrounds in Hyde Park, the 2017 World Baseball Classic and its Brooklyn Qualifier [pictured above with Great Britain Coach Trevor Hoffman, a U.S. Baseball Hall of Fame member], the 2018 Under-23 World Cup, and the 2020 Europe-Africa Olympic Qualifiers for both baseball and softball. In fact, he has not long returned from on-the-ground coverage of the 2023 WBC, where he witnessed the game-by-game build-up to the electrifying final showdown between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout.

The official Opening Day of the 2023 National Baseball League season for the Herts Falcons saw the club host the London Mets, six-time consecutive national champions. The doubleheader was the first event of the club’s new Pilot Project and featured some of the fun and festivities of Opening Day to which baseball fans everywhere look forward. Fans can purchase tickets for all home games on

New era at Herts: Falcons open NBL season at home to Mets

New era at Herts: Falcons open NBL season at home to Mets

The return for the Herts Falcons was an emotional and hugely positive moment, even if the results were not the stuff of dreams.

After a year out of British baseball’s top division in order to rebuild, the Falcons are back in the National Baseball League (NBL) for 2023 with a revamped roster and ethos. The team is at the forefront of Herts’ attempt to take the game in Britain on to a new footing.

photo by Will Baxter

Saturday (April 23) was the official home opener for Herts at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, and came with plenty of trimmings. There were youth baseball games, ceremonies, a range of classic baseball food, and a real live announcer.

photo by Will Baxter

The kids from Sheffield Bruins, Nottingham Rebels and Northants Centurions who had joined Herts youth players for games at Grovehill in the morning took part in the Opening ceremony. They paired up with Falcons players in the lineup, high-fiving the adult players as they were introduced, and were there for the national anthem.

They also threw out the Opening Pitch. This is an established and popular tradition in US baseball, often featuring celebrities, and Herts has created its own special tradition by getting increasing numbers of kids involved.

Some of the young players joined parents and fans in a sprint race between the two games of the double header, with the prize of a burger at stake. An Under-11 Herts star was the victor. Later in the day, several youth players put dedicated work into trying to catch a foul ball – as that would also win them a hot dog from the revamped club concessions stand!

Herts was delighted to also have a new PA announcer to oversee all of this. Gabriel Fidler has been colour commentator for a top U.S. sports programme at Lee University, as well as for college baseball in New England, and for youth events at the 2019 MLB London Series.

Fidler, who has only recently returned from covering GB Baseball’s adventures at the World Baseball Classic, said he was “thrilled” to join Herts as the club’s first public address announcer.

“The NBL pilot project is ambitious”, he said. “With the return of MLB clubs to Britain for this year’s London Series and the success of Great Britain at the WBC, enthusiasm for baseball in the UK is at an all-time high. Herts is positioned to take a leading role and I look forward to playing a small part in its endeavours”.

photo by Will Baxter

The opponents for this NBL double-header could not have been tougher, the defending champion London Mets. The visitors scored early and often, but the Falcons’ starting pitcher Alex Deacon picked up a couple of strikeouts, and Harry Quixley hit a double.

Photo (still grab from video) by Oliver Pleece @olliepleece_videography

In Game 2 of the double-header, there were hits for Alex Paterson and Tez Shinkawa. Falcons manager Cris Hiche was also able to stabilise the game when he came in as a relief pitcher to steady things after a rough start.

Hiche was very much taking the positives from a day when the scores were 19-0 and 16-0 but some key elements of the Falcons roster were away at an international tournament. “The results don’t reflect the hard work put in by the team. We’re young and still learning how to play together”, he said. “For example, many of the errors were just the product of miscommunication. With time we will improve and bounce back. No doubt we will have much better games this season.”

photo by Will Baxter

The feedback on new arrangements at Grovehill was positive. 46 tickets were issued for the game, with visiting players and coaches added on top of that the make the total attendance. Seating was set up for the fans at key viewing points. Tickets for the Falcons season ahead are on sale, both as individual game tickets, and batches for the whole season.

photo by Will Baxter

Herts President Aspi Dimitrov said “The club wants fans to experience the excitement of the playoff race, and the players and coaching staff are determined to bounce back.” More elements will be added in future weeks and Dimitrov added: “the Game Day product will get better with every game.”

The Herts Falcons are aiming to get back in the playoff race, starting with their next fixture away at the Latin Boys.

CLUB STATEMENT: Herts Falcons vs London Capitals to be played behind closed doors

CLUB STATEMENT: Herts Falcons vs London Capitals to be played behind closed doors

Last month the British Baseball Federation (BBF) released the 2023 league schedules. The Herts Falcons were scheduled to play their home opener on 22 April versus the London Mets. On March 28th, due to unforeseen circumstances beyond the BBF’s control the schedule of the National Baseball League (NBL) had to be redrafted. On March 29th, Herts Baseball Club notified the BBF that, when redrafting the schedule, the earliest date when Grovehill Ballpark will have the facilities to host an NBL game is 22 April – the date of their home opener in the original NBL schedule.

On 6 April the BBF released the revised NBL schedule informing the Herts Falcons that it has not been possible to fit all the games at other venues on 16 April and as a result have scheduled the Herts Falcons to play the London Capitals at Grovehill Ballpark on that date. Herts submitted a number of solutions to the BBF to address the issue including a swap of Falcons vs Capitals home and away fixtures.

Last night the British Baseball Federation confirmed its decision that all of those solutions are not feasible and the Herts Falcons have been ordered to play their NBL doubleheader versus the London Capitals on Sunday, 16 April, at Grovehill Ballpark.

This week contractors are carrying out renovation work at Grovehill Ballpark which is expected to affect all toilet facilities and as a result the games will be played behind closed doors. Fans are advised not to come to the venue. The event will not feature any of the game day elements planned for the NBL Pilot Project.

Another reason why Grovehill Ballpark will not be able to host fans on 16 April is that key components of the NBL Pilot Project such as spectator seating, catering supplies and contactless card terminal are scheduled for the week of the original Falcons NBL home opener on 22 April.

Opening Day is a celebration to mark the start of the new season, however it is not possible to celebrate it behind closed doors without the fans. The doubleheader this Sunday will not be treated as Opening Day.

For the Herts Falcons, the official Opening Day of the 2023 baseball season will be on Saturday, 22 April, when they will host the London Mets. The event will be ticketed and will feature all of the elements of the NBL Pilot Project and the festivities of Opening Day.

Now that the revised NBL schedule has been finalised, ticket sales for the remaining Herts Falcons home games will be launched shortly.

When we announced the NBL Pilot Project we received positive feedback from members of the BBF Board and we also noted that a semi-professional NBL was one of the goals in the “Our Future 2023-2035” BBF document. In the future we very much hope that the BBF will be able to recognise when clubs and their members are making an enormous sacrifice and are investing resources and time to raise the level of British Baseball on and off the field, and support those clubs rather than making it more difficult for them to make that step up.

This huge setback and disappointment does not diminish our enormous gratitude and respect for all of the work and time which BBF Board members and staff put into the running and development of British Baseball.

Changes to NBL game schedule. Falcons ticket sale launch delayed.

Changes to NBL game schedule. Falcons ticket sale launch delayed.

Last week the British Baseball Federation reported that changes will need to be made to the 2023 National Baseball League (NBL) game schedule.

The number of games and the dates of those games may be affected and as a result the launch of the 2023 ticket sale for Herts Falcons home games has been delayed.

In December Herts launched its NBL Pilot Project which aims to take the club and the sport to the next level. The new business model is designed to grow the fan base and attract spectators to Herts Falcons NBL games by creating a special game day experience.

The BBF has indicated that the revised NBL schedule is expected to be released over the next few days.  Ticket sale will commence shortly after that.