Category: Hawks

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).

Falcons, Hawks and Wildcats win the HSL titles after 23 games in the sun and the longest coin toss in history

After 23 games over 3 weekends in perfect Florida-weather the teams are ready for the 2017 British baseball season. In the HSL Majors Division, Herts Falcons came out on top with a 100% record. In second place were the Taunton Tigers, who will feel a little hard done as they also had a 100% record but missed out on first place due to having played fewer games and thus ending up half a game back on the Falcons. When they entered the HSL we advertised them as the team from Taunton playing in the South West Independent Baseball League, but since then we have learned that this is a brand new team based in Taunton which will be playing in the BBF Triple-A League. They have an array of international talent including several GB Under-23 National Team players. It will be interesting to see how they will do in their debut season going straight into the third league tier of British baseball.

The biggest shock in the HSL came just hours before the first games when rumours started circling around that the South London Pirates are about to withdraw from the National Baseball League. In fact there will be no Croydon-based teams at all as their second team will not be playing in the BBF leagues either. The hope of everyone in British baseball is that this famous baseball club will manage to somehow get back on its feet, especially as it has such a rich history and a high standard baseball venue. It would be a big loss if Roundshaw Playing Fields disappears.

Dennis Grogan on the mound for the impressive Birmingham Bandits

In the HSL Double-A Division the Birmingham Bandits and Herts Hawks ended up at the top of the standings with identical record of 3 wins and no losses. The HSL rulebook came into action as one tie-break rule after another could not separate the teams. They even had the same 0.815 runs per inning conceded over the course of the competition which meant that the winner had to be decided by a toss of a coin. It proved to be the longest coin-toss in history, 3 hours and 21 minutes to be precise. With the final HSL game day coinciding with MLB Opening Day, the HSL organisers announced that the New York Yankees opening day game at the Tampa Bay Rays would be used instead of a coin toss. A 7-2 win for the Rays meant that the Herts Hawks were awarded first place. In fairness, Birmingham Bandits looked impressive throughout the HSL and they wouldn’t have been out of place in the HSL Majors Division.

Herts fans who think they have seen this pitching delivery before, are not wrong.

The HSL also revealed that former Herts Falcons pitcher, Pete Kikel, will be making his come-back in the British leagues but this time with the Essex Redbacks as he has relocated and is no longer close enough to Hertfordshire. He looked impressive making a major contribution in the Redbacks 6-7 loss to the Birmingham Bandits which was arguably the best game of the 2017 HSL.

In the HSL Single-A Division Tonbridge and Herts Raptors finished at the top of the standings with identical records of 2 wins and 1 loss. First place was awarded to Tonbridge on the tie-break rule as they had beaten the Raptors in the head-to-head matchup. This was an exciting division as the top 4 teams in the table were divided only by half a game at the end.

On the final weekend umpire Dr. David Jones set a HSL record umpiring 42 innings at the plate over a 48-hour period. We must tip our caps to him and all the umpires without whom the Herts Spring League would not be possible.

View HSL scoreboard

View HSL standings

With Spring Training completed, British baseball teams up and down the country will hope that this will be their year. The NBL teams already opened their 2017 season, while the other three leagues commence this Sunday, 9 April. Follow us on twitter and facebook for a comprehensive coverage of the 2017 baseball season.

HSL to use New York Yankees vs Tampa Bay Rays game instead of coin toss to break tie for first place

The Herts Spring League issued an announcement that it will use today’s MLB Opening Day game between New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays instead of a “coin toss” to break the tie for first place in the HSL Double-A Standings between Birmingham Bandits and Herts Hawks. See the full statement below.

STATEMENT

The final games of the 2017 Herts Spring League took place this weekend. Birmingham Bandits and Herts Hawks both finished with a 3-0 record and are tied for first place in the HSL Double-A standings. The first, second and third tie-break rules did not break the tie as both teams conceded 0.815 runs per inning over all of their HSL games. The fourth and final tie-break rule stipulates that the tie will be broken by a toss of a coin.

As today is Opening Day in MLB, it has been decided not to toss a coin and instead the New York Yankees @ Tampa Bay Rays game will be used to break the tie. It has randomly been determined that a win for the New York Yankees would imply that the Birmingham Bandits have won the coin toss, while a win for Tampa Bay Ray would mean that the Herts Hawks have won.

The Yankees @ Rays game commences at 6:10pm UK time and can be watched on BT Sport or on MLB.TV.

Commissioner
Herts Spring League

Herts teams announce preliminary 2017 HSL rosters

The managers of the Herts teams which will be playing in the 2017 Herts Spring League over the next 3 weeks have announced their preliminary rosters. We understand that these rosters are not fixed and it is very likely that there may be movement between teams over the course of the HSL. Some players may be asked to play for more than one team as managers look to evaluate players ahead of the announcement of the 2017 Opening Day rosters.

New players are registering every week, therefore some new names may be added over the course of the HSL and into the league season.

HERTS FALCONS

Aaron Witter

Andrew Fulford

Andy Cornish

Cristobal Hiche

Darren Meintjes

Jake Caress

Jamie Warren

Jeremy Lengyel

John Blose

Jonathon Lewys

Lee Manning

Louis Hare

Mario Escobedo

Robert Smith

Tyler Badenhorst

HERTS HAWKS

Andrew Slater

Andy Cornish

Aspi Dimitrov

Dan Bartram

Duane Badenhorst

Ernest jr Ayala

Ernie Ayala

Gilberto Medina

Greg Bochan

Hunter Devine

Iain Mccrimmon

Jamie Lang

John Kjorstad

Jonathon Lewys

Louis Hare

Matthew Gentry

Michael Cresswell

Rod Naghar

Simon Langton

Sonam Lama

Tim Elkins

HERTS RAPTORS

Adam White

Andrico Patsalides

Arnold Longboy

Ben Sinclair

Clive Johnson

Darren Butterworth

Darren Priest

James Emblow

Jim Arnott

Joseph Osborne-brade

Martin Rooney

Matthew Jackson

Michael Johnson

Mitchell Taylor

Nick White

Paul Auchterlounie

Paul Barton

Rahie Rahman

Rich Brown

Rob Jones

Tim Lawrence

Tom Carson

William Belbin

Countdown to HSL – first chance to see the teams ahead of the 2017 British baseball season

The biggest pre-season baseball competition in Britain is back. Commencing on March 18, the Herts Spring League (HSL) will see 16 teams compete over the 3 weeks of the HSL. Organised by Herts Baseball Club, it is Britain’s very own version of MLB’s Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues currently under way in the US, and it signals that the season is just around the corner.

FORMAT

The 16 teams will be entered into three HSL tiers. The top teams in the country from the National Baseball League and Triple-A Leagues will play in the HSL Majors. The HSL-AA is the second tier of the Herts Spring League. It will feature predominantly British Double-A League teams. The third tier is the HSL-A consisting mainly of Single-A teams.

The organisers considered the possibility of a tournament format, but ultimately adopted a league format in the same way as the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues in MLB. “The objective of the HSL is to enable the teams to prepare for the new season and we have noticed that teams are increasingly starting to approach the HSL in the same way as MLB teams approach the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues” said HSL Commissioner, Aspi Dimitrov. He added “we have taken this into account when formulating the schedule putting greater emphasis on the preferences and preparatory requirements of the teams over the format of the competition”.

The teams finishing at the top of their respective division will win the HSL. The “games-back” column in the standings will be critical, but undoubtedly some teams will end up with the same record and so it may go down to the number of runs conceded per game to break the tie.

THE VENUES

The action will take place at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead, the home of Herts Baseball Club.

SCHEDULE

23 games are scheduled to be played on the two diamonds. The competition begins on March 18 with a clash between the Bracknell Inferno and the Kent Mariners in the HSL Single-A bracket. The HSL Majors commences on the same day when the London Mammoths will face the Lakenheath Lancers while the HSL Double-A division will open with an encounter between the Essex Redbacks and the London Marauders.

In the final weekend of the HSL the schedule will include the National Baseball League season opener between the Herts Falcons and the Brighton Jets. It will be interesting to see if the attendance at Grovehill Ballpark will be higher than that at Farnham Park on the same day for the other NBL clash between the London Mets and the Southampton Mustangs.

Click to view full 2017 HSL schedule

EXCITEMENT BUILDING UP

The Herts Spring League adds a competitive edge to Spring training. It’s the time for managers to work out their winning formula going into the BBF league season. It is an opportunity to evaluate existing and newly recruited players. Which players will earn a spot in the pitching rotation and who will be batting where in the batting order? Who will make the first team and who will have to work their way up with the minor league teams? Not forgetting, it’s a chance to size up your rivals for the year ahead. It’s the first big challenge and the first big excitement of the baseball year. Don’t miss it.

GET IN THE GAME

For more details about the event or if you are interested to give baseball a try in this competition contact Herts Baseball Club.

BBF confirms promotion to Double-A League for Herts Hawks

Herts Baseball Club confirmed that the Herts Hawks have applied for promotion from the Single-A to the Double-A League of British Baseball and that the BBF has approved it.

It may not have the same promotion-clinching scenes that we have become accustomed to when watching English football with pitch invasion by fans and a ride through town in an open-top bus, but this news is just as exciting for Herts Baseball fans.

It comes after a 2016 season in which the Hawks became Single-A National Champions winning every one of their games from start all the way to the Single-A National Playoff Final against Tonbridge – a total of 18 games (15 in the regular season and 3 in the playoffs).

This will not be the first season in the Double-A League for the Hawks. They spent 10 years in Double-A between 2005 and 2014 (in 2005 Double-A was referred to as Division One). There were some triumphant years during that period including 2012 when the team reached the Double-A National Semi-Finals eliminating Southampton and Guildford in the Playoffs before being knocked out in the Semi-Final by a strong Nottingham Rebels side.

Herts Hawks win-loss % in the previous 6 seasons

Will the 18-game winning streak be extended in the Double-A League? It is difficult to predict what we can expect from the Hawks in the third tier of British Baseball this year. Co-Managers Andrew Slater and Greg Bochan have a very calm and diplomatic approach and you will not see them raise their voice during games in any circumstances, but this does not stop them from getting their team fired-up when they have a challenge ahead of them. Regardless of where the team ends up in the standings, the coaching staff and players have a great team spirit and they will enjoy every moment. The most exciting games of 2016 for the Hawks were the come-from-behind wins against the Cambridge Royals on Opening Day and in the Semi-Final against the London Musketeers. Their ability to come from behind will come in handy in the more competitive environment of the Double-A League.

 

Hawks’ Hare hauls in MVP

The Herts Hawks, the national champions of Single-A, have chosen Louis Hare as their Most Valuable Player of 2016.

Louis is a veteran of the Herts club who has contributed to the success of many teams over the years. And he was instrumental in helping this side to an undefeated season, which ended with dramatic playoff victories at Farnham Park.

According to official BBF statistics, Louis was the joint league leader in Home Runs with 3. He also drove in 22 runs and recorded an impressive batting average of .612, putting him among the team leaders.

He also picked up two wins as a pitcher, with 13 strikeouts in 18 innings of work and an ERA of just 3.50. As you can see from our photo, he also had a nice line in celebratory leaps.

As you can imagine, a season which saw the Hawks win every game and then a national title saw plenty of excellent performances.

For example, joint manager Greg Bochan led Single-A pitchers with 4 wins to his name. He was also on the mound for the playoff win over the Raptors, and both games at Farnham Park.

Other sluggers were available, too. Jon Lewys and Gilberto Medina contributed 2 home runs each during the season, with Gil also adding 5 triples.

 

In the playoff finals, the Hawks dramatically came from behind against the London Musketeers in the bottom of the eighth to win their semi-final. They had been dominant all year, but it was an important achievement that they fought back and won when they were tested by an excellent side.

The Hawks showed their power again in the final against the Tonbridge Wildcats. They blasted out to an early lead which they would not surrender.

But they also showed off their defensive abilities, turning a flawlessly professional 5-3-6 double play to end a Tonbridge threat. Gilberto Medina,  Jon Lewys and MVP Louis Hare were in on that one, and its has now been voted the Herts Play of the Year.

The Hawks will now look with optimism to 2017 and see what the season brings.

 

Invincible Herts Hawks are Single-A National Champions

Herts Hawks lifted the Single-A National Championship trophy at the weekend to complete a perfect season in which they won all of their 18 games this year. They made their qualification to the postseason look effortless totally dominating their Single-A division in the regular season. However, they needed every last ounce of energy to prevail in the postseason.

The Semi-Final: London Musketeers 4 Herts Hawks 5

Ahead of the Semi-Final against the London Musketeers the Hawks had done their scouting homework largely thanks to the fact that their sister team the Herts Raptors faced them during the regular season. London’s ace pitcher was Billy Atkinson-Warne with a regular season ERA of 2.35 which is unheard-of in the Single-A league. But their success was not only due to pitching. They have been a very strong defensive unit with a potent offence.

The Hawks started with player-manager Greg Bochan on the mound. His win-loss record for the year was 5-0. In the top of the 1st inning it looked like the Hawks were going to strand London’s runners on second and third base with a ground ball which third baseman Jon Lewys fielded cleanly and with a runner approaching him from second base it looked easier to simply tag him than to get the third out at first base. However, with great agility, the runner very cleverly managed to avoid the tag long enough to enable the runner from third base to step on home plate just before Lewys applied the tag to end the inning.

London added two more runs to make the score 3-1 after two innings. With London’s strong defence the Hawks could not afford to concede any more runs. Bochan dug deep and over the next four innings shut down the Musketeers’ offence completely not allowing any runs, with the help of outstanding defence from his teammates including a diving catch by centerfielder Andy Cornish. Cornish also fired up the Hawks’ offence leading off with a single and coming around to reduce London’s lead to 3-2 in the fourth inning.

The game was entering the late innings and with Herts runners being stranded inning-after-inning they decided to take a risk. Sony Lama led-off the 6th inning with a single and went on to steal second and then third base against a strong-armed London catcher who had almost neutralized Herts’ running game up to this point. With Lama on third base, Cornish hit the ball deep for a triple to drive in the tying run. He was now on third with no outs, but pitcher Atkinson-Warne got out of this situation inducing two pop-ups in the infield and a strikeout to end the inning with the game tied 3-3.

Atkinson-Warne then took matters into his own hands in the 7th inning getting on base with a single and coming around to score putting the Musketeers in the lead again 4-3. This took the energy out of the Hawks, but only temporarily. They didn’t score any runs in the bottom of the 7th but in the top of the 8th catcher Hunter Devine produced a defensive display which reignited his team. He made two gold glove catches on pop-ups in the enormous foul territory of Farnham Park for the first two outs and followed that with an assist for the third out.

Despite trailing by a run the momentum was back with the Hawks as the game went into the bottom of the penultimate inning. Gilberto Medina singled and stole to put himself on second base. Jon Lewys then showed his power with a double which tied the game 4-4 and brought the noise level from the home bench even higher as Herts players found the top step of the dugout not quite high enough. With 1 out, Lewys advanced to third and came home to give the Hawks the lead for the first time in this game.

This left the Musketeers with just 3 outs to try to respond in the top of the 9th inning. From that point Greg Bochan took control from the mound. He closed the game with a strikeout, groundout and pop-out which he fielded himself to spark the wild celebrations.

The Final: Tonbridge Wildcats 9 Herts Hawks 20

The Hawks were still buzzing after Saturday’s semi-final, and there was an extra edge ahead of the final. A year ago Tonbridge eliminated the Hawks in the Semi-Final and there was a sense of defiance in the team from Herts not to slip up again at the final hurdles.

Both teams had brought a large number of travelling fans to Farnham Park who created the type of atmosphere which players thrive on in the postseason. Among the Herts fans were many former and current players of the club’s other teams, not to mention the Herts fans scattered around the world who were following game updates and posting comments of support thanks to the internet. There were also a large number of Guildford Mavericks and Guildford Millers fans which added to the occasion.

When the starting line-ups were announced it came as a major surprise to see Greg Bochan starting on the mound after having pitched a complete 9-inning game just 24 hours earlier. The Wildcats adopted the same strategy going with Jon Carter who pitched a complete game in the previous day’s Semi-Final win over the Durham Spartans. Usually a starting pitcher would need at least 2 or 3 days rest to recover before they can get on the mound again. But this was the last game of the season so the coaching staff of both teams essentially said to their starting pitchers “you will have the whole winter to rest”.

The Hawks got off the blocks much faster and took charge with a 10-1 lead after just 4 innings. Hits and quality at bats were coming from the top, middle and bottom of their batting lineup. Incredibly Greg Bochan was proving to be very effective despite signs of fatigue even during the pregame warm-up. The defence resumed their service behind him with more outstanding plays including a 5-3-6 double play involving Gilberto Medina, Jon Lewys and Louis Hare. The Hawks added 8 more runs in the 5th inning, but to the Wildcats’ credit they fought back scoring 3 runs in the fifth and 5 in the sixth inning. This wasn’t enough though and at the end the Hawks managed to win it without the nail-biting climax of Saturday’s semi-final.

The win was followed by wild celebrations at Farnham Park which continued late into the evening as the players, coaches and family members gathered for a celebratory dinner in St Albans.

This is the first national title for a Herts senior league team since the Herts Falcons won the club’s only other silverware when they became the Triple-A League National Champions in 2008, so it has been a long wait for Herts baseball fans.

It has been an unforgettable season for the Hawks, but this is not just because of winning the national championship. Co-managers Greg Bochan and Andrew Slater have managed to create such a fantastic atmosphere within the team that the team spirit would have been just as strong if they had lost every game this season. Even for the players who were left on the bench during these playoff games, this was always about being part of something bigger than just individuals playing baseball. There is a strong sense among the members of the team that this is more than just a baseball team and for them this is a second family.

2017 Season

So what’s next for the Herts Hawks? They dominated the League this year. Will they look for a challenge in the higher leagues of British baseball or will they go again in the Single-A League? The reluctance of some of the team members to go up to the Double-A League stems from the large number of double-headers which in this fast-changing world has put pressure on their ability to balance their family, work and baseball lives, but the hope is that the British Baseball Federation will recognize that this change is affecting every team and that a better balance can be struck by increasing the number of single games in the Double-A League.

 

Bochan gem, Hawks bats end Raptors dream

The Herts Hawks glittering season was polished further on Sunday by a powerful batting display which took them through to the national finals. They will play in the semis at Farnham Park next weekend in search of the Single-A title.

The downside for the club was that their victims were the Herts Raptors, who saw their own remarkable season come to an end. They had beaten the defending champions, Tonbridge, in their wildcard playoff, but the Hawks had too much for them.

Greg Bochan threw a complete game with 9 K’s

There were showers and clouds over Grovehill as the players prepared for this one. There were ceremonies and photos and good-natured joking. But the prize at stake made this serious for everyone.

The early stages of the game were tight. Co-manager Greg Bochan was on the mound for the home side, the Hawks, who went through the regular season undefeated. The Raptors lead-off man Michael Cresswell got aboard and manufactured an early run. But it was the only one.

The Hawks hit back with four runs, as they showed the power of their lineup. Hunter Devine scored first for them, after narrowly escaping a double play on the bases.

The Raptors defense limited the damage, and they uncorked their own offense in the shape of Matt Jackson. The centre fielder hit a triple, then came home on a pass ball, to cut the deficit.

The first rain delay soon interrupted proceedings. Showers would mix with downpours and only the odd burst of sunshine as the day went on.

Manny Banson at bat in the closing stages of the game

When the game resumed the Raptors took the lead, going up 5-4 by the middle of the third. Their starting pitcher Paul Barton had been keeping the Hawks in check, striking out one and giving up only one walk.

But when Gilberto Medina unloaded on a fast ball which strayed too close to the heart of the plate, it was a sign of what the Hawks could do. The line drive went over the left field fence in a flash and Medina was greeted at home plate by his team-mates.

The Raptors were blanked for the first time in the top of the fourth, and by the end of the inning it was 10-5 to the Hawks. Matt Jackson — who also made a series of crucial catches during the game — then hit his second triple of the day.

The gap narrowed to 10-7, then stretched again to 13-7 with Jon Lewys, Jamie Warren  and Greg Bochan piling up the hits.

Then the rain intervened for a longer delay. Players sheltered under umbrellas in the increasingly muddy dugouts, or under a gazebo which the manufacturer had probably intended to protect from the sun.

Even once the rain stopped, there was a further delay as both sides worked to clear water from the diamond without damaging the playing surface. An impressively careful operation scooped up the water with any available receptacle and cleared it away.

Hawks clear standing water

The Raptors seemed to come out cold from this second stoppage. They went down one-two-three in the inning, with Bochan picking up more strikeouts. He ended the day with 9, and only 2 walks.

The Hawks had made substitutions now, making use of the impressive depth of their bench, and they put the game away. Sonam Lama was 2-for-2 with a pair of runs, Tim Elkins and Matthew Gentry also scored.

The Raptors relief pitchers Jim Arnott and Aaron Witter weren’t able to close it down this time, and a big 12-run inning ended the contest.

Both sides agreed that the final scoreline of 25-7 failed to tell the true story of the ballgame. The Hawks put up the gaudy numbers — two dozen hits, 7 doubles, a home run – but for over 5 innings it was a close contest.

Hawks catcher Ken Pike said it had been a great game, and a shame they had to knock out a sister team. Co-manager Andrew Slater — who couldn’t be at the game — offered congratulations to his players on reaching the finals at Farnham Park for the second year in a row.

For the Raptors, Paul Barton felt the game had gone really well until the sixth inning, when the team was overpowered. Michael Cresswell added that it had been “the most enjoyable season ever”.

Herts Baseball President, Aspi Dimitrov, said it had been a great day for the club, and that everyone was proud of how far the Raptors had progressed against the odds. “We are now willing on the Hawks to go one better than last year, and win the title”.