Category: Hawks

Teams starting to enter the 2018 Herts Spring League

The Herts Spring League (HSL) has confirmed the game dates for the 2018 edition of the competition*.

HSL (Week 1 of 3)
Sat, 17-Mar-18
Sun, 18-Mar-18

HSL (Week 2 of 3)
Sat, 24-Mar-18
Sun, 25-Mar-18

HSL (Week 3 of 3)
Sat, 31-Mar-18
Sun, 1-Apr-18

Spring is the time when managers put together their teams and aim to turn them into winning machines ahead of Opening Day. Similar to the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB, the HSL provides a competitive edge to spring training. This is the eleventh year of the HSL. Every year this competition keeps growing. The geographic spread of participating teams seems to be expanding as well. For more details visit the HSL site.

LEAGUE FORMAT
Teams will be placed in two or more divisions (e.g. HSL Majors and HSL Minors) based on the teams’ ranking going into the new season. The exact format will depend on the number of teams entering the HSL. Full details will be published when the league line-up is confirmed.

TEAMS
Over the years the HSL has featured teams from the National Baseball League (NBL), Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A Leagues, as well as international teams such as the GB Under-19 and Under-16 National Teams and the ASL Eagles.

“The number of team entries has been going up every year. Last year we somehow managed to fit all of the entrants, however in 2018 we have to be mindful of the fact that we may once again reach our full capacity and we may have to restrict team entries when we reach that level again.” said HSL Commissioner, Aspi Dimitrov.

The addition of U19 and U17 league teams in previous years has worked very well. The high standard of most of the BBF U19 and U17 League teams will certainly enable them to comfortably compete at the level of adult teams from the Double-A and Triple-A League teams, or perhaps even the NBL.

Teams from around the United Kingdom will be submitting their entries over the next few weeks and the HSL lineup and games schedule is expected to be published in early March.

* The HSL dates are based on the indication that the BBF league season will start on 8 April 2018 for all senior leagues (NBL, Triple-A, Double-A, Single-A).

Falcons, Hawks and Raptors go into 2018 with new managers. Club adds 5 new board members.

At its 21st Annual General Meeting, Herts Baseball Club announced the appointment of new managers for all three of its teams competing in the BBF senior leagues, as well as a large number of appointments in the youth baseball department.

HERTS FALCONS
Cris Hiche (pictured above) takes over from Lee Manning as the Manager of the club’s first team, the Herts Falcons, who play in the National Baseball League, which is Britain’s top baseball league tier. Hiche has been a key member of the team since 2012. In 2016 he spent a season playing in the Austrian Bundesliga, but came back to rejoin Herts in 2017. He has now set ambitious goals for the team to go back to challenging for the NBL title.

HERTS HAWKS
The club’s second team, the Herts Hawks, will also have a new manager. Michael Cresswell takes over from Andrew Slater and Greg Bochan. The team reached the playoffs in its first year back in Double-A last year so Cresswell will inherit a very capable squad. Cresswell previously managed the Herts Raptors. He took the team to the playoffs in 2016 eliminating the reigning Single-A Champions in the quarter-finals.

HERTS RAPTORS
Matt Jackson has had outstanding performances playing for the Herts Raptors since 2015 which was recognized with him being voted Most Valuable Player in 2016, an award he shared with Michael Cresswell. Jackson will now take the Raptors managerial seat in 2018 from Paul Barton. It is considered to be the most challenging team to manage as the role involves trying to find the balance between competing in an ever-improving Single-A League and at the same time creating the right environment to develop new players, some of whom are completely new to the sport of baseball. But for those who enjoy this type of challenge it can be the most rewarding managerial role at the club.

YOUTH BASEBALL TEAMS
Lee Manning makes the move from managing the Falcons to heading the club’s youth baseball programme. He will be working alongside the team managers of the club’s various youth age groups, who have also joined the board – Duane Badenhorst (Under-15), Dana Myzer (Under-13), Andrew Fulford (Under-11), John Kjorstad and Lee Manning as joint Under-8 Managers.

BOARD MEMBERS
In total the club has added 5 new board members and this is expected to bring new energy to the club’s front office. Two board positions are still vacant – Club Secretary and Facilities Manager. The club is also looking to fill the Softball Manager position which is a non-board position. Those interested in taking on these roles or to receive more information can contact the club.

2017 AWARDS
At the AGM the Club also announced the winners of the 2017 awards.

MVP, Herts Falcons – Tyler Badenhorst
MVP, Herts Hawks – Louis Hare
MVP, Herts Raptors – Tom Carson
MVP, Herts Red Kites U17 – Tyler Badenhorst
MVP, Herts U13 – Josh Badenhorst
MVP, Herts U11 – Ben Myzer
MVP, Herts U8 – Daniel Heal
Play of the Year – Robert Smith (for his stellar relief appearance in the playoffs)
Nob-Out Award – Aspi Dimitrov (for the walk-off that went wrong)

SPRING TRAINING – OPEN SESSIONS
With the club’s front office ready to go, attention now turns to Spring Training which commences this Sunday, 4 February, for the adult and youth baseball teams while softball Spring Training starts on 18 February. These are open sessions, making them an ideal opportunity for men and women, boys and girls of all ages to come and try baseball and softball.

Herts Falcons, Hawks and U13 teams begin search for new managers

With its annual general meeting approaching, Herts Baseball Club has confirmed that the managers of the Herts Falcons, Herts Hawks and Herts Under-13 teams will be stepping down. This will mark the end of an era for those teams and the start of the search for managers to lead these teams in 2018 and beyond.

Lee Manning has served as manager of the Herts Falcons since 2011. During that period he led the team to a NBL runner-up place in 2012 and 2013 just missing out on winning the NBL Championship against the Harlow Nationals in the Final on both occasions. This in fact was his second spell as manager of the club’s first team. His first spell was between 2004 and 2006 when he won promotion from the third tier of British Baseball to the second tier which at the time was referred to as the BBF Premier League, later renamed the BBF Triple-A League. Manning is hoping to continue his involvement in the club with focus on the youth baseball programme which he has been involved in since he founded it in 2007 together with Marty Cullen.

Andrew Slater and Greg Bochan have been the co-managers of the Herts Hawks, the club’s second team, since 2015. Bochan was first appointed as Hawks manager in 2009. In 2011 he was joined by Andy Cornish to share the role as co-managers until 2014. In the nine years since Bochan was first appointed, he and his co-managers Cornish and Slater managed to build fantastic camaraderie within the team, and it has given its members many moments which they will remember fondly. Regardless of whether the team had a winning average of .250 as was the case in 2011, or the 1.000 Single-A championship-winning season of 2016, the most important measure of success for the team has been the enjoyable, friendly atmosphere and sportsmanship on and off the field. At the recent end of year dinner (pictured above) the team expressed its gratitude to the three co-managers who built this team over the previous 9 seasons. The Hawks co-managers said that they would not be surprised if they return to managing the team in the future. They of course look forward to continuing to play for the club in 2018.

Mike Wakelam will be stepping down as Herts U13 Manager and Head of Youth Baseball. In 2009 he happened to be at the Northwick Park baseball centre when Herts were running an exhibition event there and he decided to join the club. He went on to play for the Herts Eagles in the Triple-A League and also for the Falcons in the NBL. In 2010 he became the manager of the Herts Under-11 team and later became the Under-13 manager. In 2017 Wakelam’s workload increased further as he joined the Board as the club’s Head of Youth Baseball. Over the last two years he was instrumental in restructuring the youth baseball regular season in an effort to increase the number of games played by the club’s youth teams which had been starved of games after the British Baseball Federation stopped running youth baseball leagues a few years ago. This has now been turned around and the BBF Super League was launched in 2017. Mike Wakelam is expected to remain involved in a playing capacity and he is likely to receive many calls from coaches after impressive displays in this year’s Hunlock Series.

Herts Baseball Club will shortly be announcing details of its Annual General Meeting which will include information for candidates which may be interested to put their names forward for these and other managerial and board positions which are being vacated.

Raptors fall with the last gasp; Hawks end on a high

The Herts Raptors hosted the Guildford Millers on the last day of the regular season in Single-A. The permutations for playoff qualification were fiendishly complicated. But they all boiled down to this — the Raptors had to win to stand a chance.

Guildford had already booked their place in the postseason. They had an 11-2 record so far, and would pose a serious challenge for the home team.

Although the game was being played at Grovehill, Herts were the away side, so they batted first. Three walks from the top three batters made the start look promising.

Paul Barton at bat

But the Millers’ starting pitcher, Lewis Bawden – one of the cadre of young pitching talents at Guildford, who had given Herts trouble the previous month when he turned out for the Gold Cats — fought back. He struck out two, and got the last out with a fly ball to right field.

Herts manager Paul Barton got the first hit of the day and the bases were loaded up again in the second. But the Raptors pushed only one run across before a base running error — a failure to tag from third – ended the threat.

Fortunately, Barton’s pitching and the Herts defense were keeping Guildford off the scoreboard. The manager dramatically recovered from a missed catch to get the final out of the first inning, and left fielder Ben Sinclair helped sit down two Millers in the second.

Sinclair added on another Herts run in the third, before third baseman Tom Carson took his turn at defensive highlights in the bottom of the frame. A smooth grab and throw which Manny Machado would have been proud of stopped a bouncing drive getting through; then he caught a sharply hit liner.

It was 2-0 to Herts after three.

The tight game faltered a little in the fourth, as the Millers were suddenly able to do some damage. They scored five runs to take the lead, and even added on an inside the park home run later.

But the Raptors chipped back into that lead consistently, and the game stayed tight. Paul Auchterlounie scored in the fifth, shortstop Rob Jones in the sixth. It was then 5-4 to the Millers.

Ken Pike gives it his best “catalogue model” look

Auchterlounie was in the game to relieve Barton by now, and was giving another strong outing on the mound. But the Millers extended their lead to 12-5 by the end of the seventh. The Herts defense wasn’t able to keep the visitors in check as effectively as they had in the first half of the game.

One notable exception was a supremely nonchalant over the shoulder catch by Raptors second baseman, James Emblow. Guildford had seen several of their bloop hits fall in the gap between infield and outfield, but when all seemed lost, Emblow snagged this one and ended an inning.

Herts hung tough against Guildford’s hard-throwing relief pitcher, working patient walks and making some good contact. The bats were more alive than they had been at the start. Jones scored, and catcher Ken Pike, and in all four runs scored in the eighth.

Come the top of the ninth it was 15-9 Guildford, though, and the Raptors needed a big rally. The chance to keep the playoff dream alive came down to this.

And Herts gave it a real shot. They went though virtually the entire order, with Pike and Carson both getting hits and scoring. First baseman Giuseppe Basilea and James Emblow both got their best hits of the day.

But Guildford did enough defensively to limit the damage. The final out was a fly to right, with the tying run on base. It was the Millers who got to celebrate, winning 15-13.

The Raptors end the year with a 7-7 record, a particularly excellent outcome as they were 2-5 at one point. They ran several good teams mighty close — not only the Millers but also London and the Cambridge monarchs. Rookie players had improved in leaps and bounds.

Earlier in the day, the Herts Hawks had played their last regular season game in the Double-A league. And in typical fashion, they ended it not with a full stop but an exclamation mark.

They scored 11 runs in the first inning against the visiting Southampton Mustangs. Joint manager Andrew Slater was on the mound, and had his unique pitching mojo working.

The Mustangs’ bats hit back quickly, with 4 runs of their own in the second. But — even with the help of the former Herts legend Kimiyoshi Saionji, who now wears a Southampton uniform – they could not find a way back.

The scoring did calm down a bit. The Hawks were actually held without a run in the second.

But by the fifth, it had advanced to 18-5, and Herts needed 2 more to secure a mercy rule win.  They duly delivered, to secure a 20-5 victory.

Slater took the win, his sixth of the season. Jon Lewys and Gilberto Medina each drove in three runs, while Sonam Lama got three hits.

The Hawks had already qualified for the playoffs. They are seeded fourth out of nine teams, and will travel to Richmond to take on the Dragons in their first round game on September 3rd.

Two more wins for Hawks. Innocuous play causes bench-clearing.

by Andy Cornish,
reporting from Grovehill Ballpark in Hertfordshire

Herts Hawks continued their hot return in the second tier of British baseball with another double victory against last year’s Double-A champions on Sunday, which saw some scorching temperatures and sticky incidents. Herts went into the game knowing that two of their big hitters were out of action, their bullpen was depleted and the British weather was going to hold no prisoners.

Game 1: Hawks 10 Daws Hill Spitfires 5

Andrew Slater got off the blocks slightly shakily, allowing two runs in the first inning after striking out the first batter, before settling down to his usual command and accuracy that has helped him to gain respect across the league. A typical Slater inning was seen in the fourth inning, when he threw 5 pitches, 4 strikes, to record 3 quick outs. Both Slater and the fielders welcomed the respite from the increasing temperatures. After 6 innings the Hawks were up 10-2, which also included some quality at bats, personified by a Hunter Devine triple which came after a 9 pitch at bat. The heat was starting to get to the players, with Gilberto twice slowing down going into second base from hits, once getting tagged out. In the top of the 7th, the Hawks allowed three runs, after the Spitfires found the gaps. With 2 down, a Daws Hill runner tried to steal third, Gilberto managed to grab the high throw from Cornish and make a tag, but the ball was knocked out by the sliding runner. The runner then decided to break for home, Medina grabbed the ball, that was by his feet, and made a tag, which the umpire didn’t see as the player retreated and was called safe. The next pitch, the batter hit deep and high into the outfield, which was tracked down by the reliable glove of Sony Lama, for the final out.

The end of the game allowed players to get some much needed shade, as the temperatures, much like the Herts average age, increased into the mid-30s. Matt Jackson was called up from the Herts Raptors due to the depleted Hawks numbers on Father’s Day, but he truly held his own.

Game 2: Hawks 11 Daws Hill Spitfires 9

The second game was even more heated, with the temperature baking and tempers flaring. With the Hawks leading 4-2 in the 3rd inning, there was a tense moment after what seemed like an innocuous play at first. The Herts batter, Ernest Ayala Jr, managed to reach base after a throw to first base took the first baseman off the bag and Ayala went by him before he could apply the tag. Ayala Jr made a turn into fair territory under the impression that the throw went astray all the way to the fence. He quickly realized that the ball was in the first baseman’s glove and and he had to slide back feet-first into first base to avoid being tagged out. The first baseman didn’t seem to realize that he had an opportunity to tag the runner out so he wasn’t sure why he was sliding into first base and incorrectly concluded that Ayala Jr’s slide was an act of aggression. This caused a heated confrontation involving a large number of players from both sides. Thankfully, cool heads prevailed after a 15-minute delay. Games between these two teams are always played with the utmost mutual respect and this was the case again on Sunday, apart from this one heated moment, which we should probably attribute to the incredibly hot weather rather than any ill feeling. With the scores fluctuating throughout the game, Ernie Ayala was able to hold onto the game for a complete game win against some good pitching and solid hitting.

Hawks are now 9-2 this season, 1 game back on the East London Latin Boys with Sidewinders and Marauders following close behind. Next game for Hawks is away doubleheader at Marauders on 2 July, to be played at Enfield, not Finsbury Park

Thanks should go again to the umpires, making another fantastic contribution to the game, with great, timely calls, diffusing situations, in gruelling conditions.

 

Hawks fall to Latin Boys in 9

Michael Cresswell reporting from Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead

The Hawks were looking to restart another winning streak on Sunday but unfortunately fell to the Double-A South leaders East London Latin Boys by a score of 14-7.

Both teams were eager to see who would take the seasonal series with the Hawks and Latin Boys splitting the last series and ending both teams’ unbeaten streaks. The Hawks streak ended that day after an impressive run of 24 games won. The game was considered to be a pitchers duel with Jeffrey Aguilar starting for the Latin Boys and Ernie Ayala starting for the Hawks. Both pitchers ERA under 4 at the start of the game.

The opening inning showed that the Latin Boys’ hard-hitting lineup was still showing from the last game as they managed to score 2 runs from solid line drives to the outfield. The Hawks defence also started to flourish, including the first of two double plays in the game, both with shortstop Louis Hare involved to end the inning.

Ayala’s stellar pitching held the runs down and stopped the running game with his elite pickoff move however the strong bats from the Latin Boys was illustrated in a 2-run homerun by First Baseman, Alberto Novas, to extend their lead in the second inning.

The Hawks offence started to come alive in the middle part of the game with three runs with skipper Greg Bochan starting it off himself by managing to get on base with a walk. The Hawks bats also came alive with hits from the great Bulgarian Duo of Aspi Dimitrov and Ilya Dimitrov, the latter managing to hit a laser of a line drive down the left field line to bag himself a double to break up the stellar form of Aguilar.

Pitching was not only a key part of this game but defence as well with both teams putting on performances to stop base hits and runs. Slugger Gilberto Medina had a solid line drive caught by the Latin Boys’s Center Fielder’s diving effort and quick turn efforts made in the infield from the Hawks to stop sharp grounders. Ayala’s day was done after five innings and the ball was given to Louis Hare to come in for relief.

Unfortunately this was not enough to stop the Latin Boys with the side managing to get on base and drive these in with the longball. Pitcher Jeffrey Aguilar and Outfielder Aneudy Vargas putting the ball over the wall in a rare fashion that the Hawks had not been used to. British Baseball getting treated to a 4 HR game, however none for the Hawks.

Batters from the mighty Hawks managed to get on base in the latter parts with strong walks from Hunter Devine, base hits from Michael Cresswell, Louis Hare & Jonathon Lewys to drive additional runs, totalling 7 runs from 6 hits in the game. The game ended 14-7 after 9 innings.

Though the defeat was bitter, the Hawks managed to keep morale high by having a barbeque after and included some players ending up in a hot tub! The next game will be the second double header as they welcome the Daws Hill Spitfires to Grovehill Ballpark on the New Diamond with first pitch at 12:00pm. Can they start off another winning streak that could possibly beat that incredible 24 game winning streak? Only time will tell!

Hawks and Latin Boys put on a show in top of the table clash. End each other’s winning streak.

Herts Hawks extended their winning run to 24 games but the streak was over 2 hours later as they shared the spoils in their doubleheader with the league-leading East London Latin Boys.

With both teams still unbeaten this season and placed in first and second place in the standings this was an eagerly anticipated clash which saw the highest attendance of the Double-A League season so far. The two teams had never met before so the pre-game batting and fielding practice was carefully observed by players and coaches on both sides. It resembled a heavyweight boxing weigh-in with both teams sizing each other up and looking for strengths to watch out for and weaknesses to exploit later in the day.

It became clear very quickly that the Latin Boys have a hard-hitting batting lineup so there would not be any easy outs. Pitchers were also throwing harder than what the Hawks had seen so far this season. This however did not faze the Hawks, who struck early to take a 3-0 lead in the top of the first inning. Despite the Latin Boys getting their lead-off batter on-base in the bottom of the inning, it ended abruptly after a catch at the wall by right fielder Dan Bartram was turned into a double play following his throw to first base in a bang-bang play which saw both the runner and first baseman Michael Cresswell dive to touch first base in a photo-finish for the force-out. The Latin Boys’ bats did not seem that comfortable against starting pitcher Andrew Slater who has been serving BBF batters with a regular diet of junk pitches for many years now. He recently added a never before seen pitch to his repertoire, which he has named “Lindsay Lohan”.

The home team gradually managed to work their way back into the game and took a 7-5 lead after 5 innings. In the penultimate inning they retired the first two Herts batters quickly. It seemed like the Hawks’ winning streak was about to end. With two outs and no one on base, co-manager Greg Bochan started a rally which saw 7 Herts runs score and turned the game on its head. The Hawks now had a 5-run lead and needed just 6 outs. Louis Hare took the mound and managed to pin down the Latin Boys for a 12-10 win with the help of his defence which included a spectacular diving catch by Sony Lama in left field – a play of the year nomination.

There was no time for celebrating as the second game of the doubleheader was coming up and the Hawks had to face the Latin Boy’s ace pitcher Jeffrey Aguilar. In response Herts went with starting pitcher Nic Goetz who made his debut having missed 2016 with a fractured wrist – an injury sustained in unusual circumstances off the baseball field.

Once again the visitors took an early 2-1 lead which they extended to 6-4 after 5 innings. Nic Goetz was in full control, but this was his first outing in two years and he had reached his pitch count limit. Unlike the first game, this time the Hawks bullpen was not able to hold down the explosive bats of the East Londoners who went on to win it 14-8.

That ended the Hawks’ 24-game winning streak. The last time they lost a game of baseball was in September 2015 so it was natural for the players to feel a sense of disappointment that they couldn’t keep it going. But co-managers Andrew Slater and Greg Bochan were quick to congratulate the team on another outstanding performance on the day and over the previous 20 months. They also gave credit to the Latin Boys who are a very strong team which will be in the thick of the playoff race this year.

This was the first visit of a Herts team to the home of the Latin Boys at Salibury Hall Playing Fields, and we must give a special mention to the home team and their fans for creating a very enjoyable atmosphere with a Latin American flavour. The club and their field were created just two years ago. During our visit we learned that this was not an easy project. Across the country there are unsung British Baseball heroes who make a great sacrifice to build and grow the game of baseball in the UK. We understand that Pepe Anderson played a key role in creating this club, securing the field and turning it into a baseball diamond. The club was not able to receive government funding for the project and Anderson decided to finance it by putting the costs of the ballpark on his credit card which he is paying to this day. As we left the ballpark at the end of the day, Anderson was rolling up the temporary outfield fence, despite limping as a result of being hit by pitch in the second game. We hope that the large Latin American community which had gathered to enjoy the game, the barbeque and the Latin American music will mobilize behind Anderson to realize the great potential for this club.

It was satisfying for the visiting Hawks players to learn that Herts Baseball Club had already contributed to the Latin Boys’ project two years ago by donating the orange outfield fence when Herts Falcons player Edwin Alcantara asked Herts if they could help this new club in some way.

The Hawks have a week off. They will be back in league action on 4 June when they travel to the banks of the river Thames to face the Richmond Barons.

Herts Hawks breathing down Latin Boys’ necks after win over Marauders

Herts Hawks kept their winning streak going with a win against the London Marauders on Sunday and it is fair to say that this was their toughest test so far this season in the Double-A League.

Herts Hawks co-managers Andrew Slater and Greg Bochan were both away and they asked Andy Cornish to step into the manager’s role. Cornish is very familiar with being the manager of the Hawks having co-managed the team alongside Greg Bochan three years ago so there was no change of management style for the team.

The game saw the official league debut of father and son, Ernie and EJ Ayala, both of whom are major additions to the team this year. In the absence of starting pitchers Bochan and Slater, Ernie Ayala was given the responsibility of starting on the mound.

When you have not tasted defeat for 19 months there is a risk of becoming complacent, but the Hawks didn’t have time for much complacency as the Marauders struck in the top of the first inning to take a 3-0 lead. All winter the Hawks have been looking forward to the greater challenge of playing in the higher league, so in a strange way this early blow didn’t faze them and instead whet their appetite. Ernie Ayala took control from the mound and over the next four innings did not allow any London runs.

After being shut down in the bottom of the first, the Herts offense scored runs in each of the next six innings.  Michael Cresswell and Gilberto Medina had another good day at the plate. Herts took the lead in the third inning and extended it in the sixth, but the Marauders stayed in touch.  In the fourth inning the visitors brought in pitcher Billy Atkinson-Warne, a familiar face for Hawks fans having faced him in the epic 5-4 win in the Single-A League National Semi-Final last September when he was a member of the London Musketeers.  Atkinson-Warne proved to be just as effective as he was last year so it was something of a surprise that he didn’t start the game, especially given the fact that prior to this game he had not allowed any runs or hits so far this season. He also had a great day at the plate batting 3-for-3 with two doubles and 3 RBI which gives him a season batting average of 1.000 and season slugging average of 2.000.

After six innings of outstanding work, Ernie Ayala’s job was done. For the final 3 innings Louis Hare stepped onto the mound with a task of keeping the lead.  The Marauders certainly didn’t give up and stayed in the game right to the end thanks to some fine defensive plays including a Play of the Year nomination from Chris Gregory after a diving catch in left field. Hawks fans would probably say that the spectacular leaping catch by Dan Bartram or game-ending sliding catch by Ilya Dimitrov on opening day against the Daws Hill Spitfires were better, but it has to be said that there was much less margin for error in Chris Gregory’s head-first diving play.

Louis Hare shut the door on the Marauders in the final inning fittingly ending the game with a reflex catch on a line drive back to the mound and a final score of 14-9.

 

This was the visitors’ first loss of the season, but they shouldn’t be too worried as on Sunday’s display they will certainly be involved in the playoff race.

Next for the Hawks is an away game at the Guildford Mavericks this Sunday, 7 May. The game starts at 2pm. Can they keep their winning streak going and stay in touch with the East London Latin Boys who are also unbeaten and half a game ahead of the Hawks.

Hawks’ winning streak still intact despite late Dragons surge

by Andrew Cornish at Grovehill Ballpark, Hemel Hempstead
photos by Rob Jones

I am here to tell you about a story that occurred on Sunday 23rd April, St George’s Day, between the unbeaten Herts Hawks and Richmond Dragons. The last time that the Hawks lost a game was in 2015, but with promotion to a higher league, would it be too much for the Hertfordshire-based team?

The start of the game was delayed due to traffic issues which affected the visitors from Richmond. When the game started Herts wasted no time in building a lead. Herts players were aggressive and their fielding and pitching were solid, which has been characteristic for the team throughout their winning run. After just three innings they were leading 12-1.

Richmond were able to pull back a few runs in the top of the fourth and again in the top of the sixth inning, reducing the lead to 7-14. The bottom of the sixth saw an interesting incident which prompted some quick decision-making. With one down and the bases loaded, Andy Cornish launched a towering pop-up, which eluded the Dragons shortstop. With Mike Cresswell tagging-up and breaking from third base after the ball had landed he reached home safely to score while Jon Lewys was forced out at second. The consistent and fair umpire called time and after a brief discussion with the managers, much like the top MLB umpires, corrected the initial call to ‘Infield Fly’ which meant that batter Andy Cornish was called out and the runners were sent back to their original bases, with no runs scored in that play. With two outs Gilberto Medina drove the second pitch of the at-bat for a double, which brought in two more runs and a total of four runs for Herts in that inning.

After completing 6 innings and throwing 91 pitches, Herts Manager Andy Slater was spent and decided to go to the bullpen, calling on Aspi Dimitrov to close the game out with the score at 18-7. Richmond bats came alive, the hits starting to land in gaps and errors from the normally consistent Herts fielders meant that Richmond pulled back an impressive 10 runs in the top of the seventh inning, with only 3 runs charged against Dimitrov. Herts were not able to reply in the bottom of the seventh, and the score remained 18-17. It was getting tense. The top of the eight was a more settled affair, with Herts able to hold Richmond scoreless to get back on track. The Hawks scored 2 runs in the bottom of the eight inning to increase the lead and Dimitrov was able to lock them down in the top of the 9th with a final score of 20-17.

View Box Scores

The game was exciting, with only one inning causing Herts some trouble but the team was able to regroup and finish off the game against a tricky and strong batting side. Extra credit should be given to the Richmond pitcher, Ben Carter, who seemed to have a rubber arm, throwing an amazing 196 pitches, as well as Hunter Devine for overcoming some extreme working conditions behind the plate.

VIDEO: Herts Hawks open the 2017 season with a win over the Champions


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The Herts Hawks opened their 2017 season with a win away at the reigning BBF Double-A League Champions, Daws Hill Spitfires.  This was a major upset as the Hawks had just gained promotion from the Single-A League and were not expected to be able to compete against the champions. The game was played at Farnham Park and the final out was captured from a camera high up in the sky (see video).