Category: Falcons

Playoff lifeline for Herts Falcons

Playoff lifeline for Herts Falcons

A vital win for the Herts Falcons on Sunday has moved them up into fifth place in the NBL standings and they have also closed the gap on the fourth-placed Sheffield Bruins. The top four teams will qualify for next month’s NBL Playoffs.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

This was the second consecutive Sunday of six NBL teams playing two games each at Farnham Park in Slough. The Falcons were missing a number of players. Some were in Italy on international duty, others were on the injured list but the team was boosted by the return of Max Manoff and the signing of infielder Michael Barrett 48 hours before the games.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

Their first opponents were the Essex Arrows who have been setting the pace this season and were in joint first place alongside the London Mets. This first game was always going to be a difficult one for Herts considering their depleted squad so it was not a surprise to see the Arrows win it comfortably.

Box Scores Herts Falcons vs Essex Arrows

The second game of the day was against the Latin Boys and this was the one which was going to have a much greater impact on the Playoff race and a defeat could have ended Herts’ postseason hopes. The pressure was on but the team got off to the best possible start.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

A single by Matt Moran gave Herts the lead in the top of the first. Latin Boys’ starting pitcher Emanuel Aybar encountered difficulties and incurred three balks which brought in another three runs.  

This was also a must-win game for the Latin Boys and their players felt the pressure too.  Their second baseman Rokas Danielius crossed the line arguing an umpiring decision and was ejected.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

Falcons’ starting pitcher, Alex Deacon, was doing well. But the Latin Boys were not out of this contest.  A long double to left field by Nguyen Baez Aybar rounded off a 3-run bottom of the third inning which brought them right back in the game.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

The Falcons were holding onto a very narrow 4-3 lead. They needed more runs and they produced them in the top of the fifth. A 2-run double by Will Clayton was followed by an inside the park grand slam by catcher Phil Clark. His hit went down the right field foul line which right fielder Jeurys Mambu Felipe did his best to cut off but the ball flew by him and rolled all the way to the right field wall.  Inside-the-park home runs always seem to get the fans more excited than the longest of home run bombs. 8 Falcons runs were scored in that inning.

There was still some defensive work left to do. Will Clayton pitched the last four innings of the game allowing only 1 run on 5 hits, striking out 3 batters.

Box Scores London Latin Boys vs Herts Falcons

This win and the Sheffield Bruins losing their two games against the Mets and the Capitals means that the gap between the Falcons and the fourth-placed Bruins is down to four games with the two teams still to play two games against each other on August 6th. The Falcons hope to reduce that deficit and be within reach before then.

They will have the opportunity to do that this Sunday, 16 July, when they meet the Latin Boys again. This is their final home stand of the regular season. Tickets are currently on sale and Herts baseball fans can play their part in what would be an astonishing comeback if the Falcons qualify for the Playoffs.

(photo by Jody Demay-Davies)

It has been confirmed that Deputy Mayor Cllr. Brenda Link will be the guest of honour throwing out the ceremonial first pitch. Herts Baseball Club is also working with DENS who support members of the Dacorum community who may be facing homelessness or social exclusion. A number of their members have expressed interest to come and see a baseball game and this Sunday they will be guests of the club at Grovehill Ballpark. Herts Baseball Club hope that this will be a positive experience for them as they look to rebuild their lives and reconnect with the community.

The Falcons have 6 games remaining in the NBL regular season. They must win a minimum of 3 of those games but they may need more than 3 wins depending on the outcome of other games.

WATCH: Herts Falcons’ Jack Warrington among the top 90 MLB European prospects

WATCH: Herts Falcons’ Jack Warrington among the top 90 MLB European prospects

The MLB London Series was not only about the St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs games at the London Stadium. There was wide range of MLB events taking place in the weeks before and after those games.

One of them was the MLB Elite Game Development Tournament where the top 90 European baseball prospects were given the opportunity to showcase their abilities in front of the MLB scouts. Herts Falcons’ Jack Warrington was among them. In fact he was the only British player on show.

MLB published the following short film about the event.

Jack Warrington was also featured in this article by Matthew Ritchie on

Falcons lose ground in the playoff race but can bounce back this Sunday

Falcons lose ground in the playoff race but can bounce back this Sunday

All six National Baseball League (NBL) games on Sunday were played at the national baseball complex at Farnham Park in Slough. Each NBL team played two games. The Herts Falcons faced the reigning champions London Mets and London Capitals – both very difficult opponents who had just returned from their European Federations Cup Qualifying campaigns.

The Falcons went toe-to-toe with the Mets for four innings tying the game 1-1 after singles from Alex Deacon and Harry Quixley. Will Clayton had another good start on the mound allowing only 3 runs on 4 hits over 5 innings.

The Mets took a 3-1 lead in the fifth inning after a 2-run double by Josh Barrett to left field. Despite outhitting the Mets 7-6 in this game and putting considerable pressure on their defence, several decisions didn’t go in Herts Falcons’ favour which took the steam out of their offence in key moments of the game. Final score Falcons 1 Mets 6.

Falcons vs Mets Box Scores

Next, the team from Hertfordshire came up against the London Capitals who were in third place in the NBL standings at the start of the day. The Falcons fell behind 1-3 but came back to tie the game in the third and take a 5-3 lead in the fourth after loading the bases followed by a 2-run single by Cris Hiche.

Similar to the earlier game against the Mets, the Falcons also outhit the Capitals 8-7 but 5 defensive errors proved to be costly as the Capitals took advantage and won 9-6.

Caps vs Falcons Box Scores

The progress which this young Herts team has made over the first 3 months of the season is obvious but is not quite enough to keep up with the pace of the teams occupying the top four places. 

Despite losing ground on the fourth-placed Sheffield Bruins who picked up a win against the Latin Boys, mathematically Herts can still qualify for the Playoffs if they can bounce back this Sunday when the six NBL teams meet again at Farnham Park.  Their opponents this time will be the Essex Arrows (17-3) and the London Latin Boys (1-13).

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.

Battling Falcons performance but no upset
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.

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.