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2023 MVP vote results are in

2023 MVP vote results are in

The Most Valuable Players (MVP) of the seven Herts adult league teams have been announced.  The players of each team voted to determine their team’s MVP so the results reflect who the players consider to have been the most influential members this year.

Herts Falcons (NBL)

The 2023 Herts Falcons MVP is player-manager, Cris Hiche. With a batting average of .397, slugging average of .638 and 3 home runs, Hiche was a consistent contributor to the team’s offence. Defensively, he produced a series of web gems including a Play of the Year candidate in the game away at the Capitals which was streamed live (see video above).

(photo by Tony Small)

Herts Cardinals (Triple-A)

For a second consecutive year, the Herts Cardinals chose Tyler Cote as the team’s Most Valuable Player. He was the team’s “go-to” pitcher including in the Playoff Semi-Final. He had the team’s best ERA (.366) and led the pitching staff in strikeouts (36) and wins (3) tied with three other pitchers. Offensively, he led in RBIs (21), stolen bases (18) and had the third best batting average (.400).

photo by Will Baxter

Herts Hawks (Double-A)

Harry McMenamin is the Herts Hawks MVP. This was his third season playing in the BBF senior leagues and he has been voted as the Hawks MVP in each of these three seasons.  His batting average was .552, slugging average was .845 which is almost identical to his numbers last year, despite the fact that his team is playing in a higher league tier this season. His contribution was in all aspects of the game, as a pitcher, with the glove in the infield and with his speed, stealing 27 bases.

photo by Rob Jones

Herts Ducks (Double-A)

The Herts Ducks MVP is Taysir Barakat. His teammates recognised his contribution on and off the field in a diffiuclt first season for the Ducks in the Double-A League when the team needed a lot of lifting. He had a batting average of .349, led in stolen bases (14) and his team relied on his pitching with the most innnings pitched (24).

photo by Tony Small

Herts Ravens (Single-A)

Zak Beller won the MVP vote among the Herts Ravens. He was a key player in a very successful season for the team going all the way to the Playoff semi-final. He led the team in home runs (4) and RBIs (40), was third in batting average (.686) and stolen bases (38). We should mention that pitcher and infielder Nic Goetz was a close second in the MVP vote. He had another exceptional season with an ERA of 2.45, 8 wins , no losses and 61 strikeouts. He also led the team with a .778 batting average.

Herts Raptors (Single-A)

Among the seven Herts senior league teams, the Herts Raptors recorded the biggest improvement in their winning average from .038 in 2022 to .348 this season. The players determined that pitcher Lee Dunn played a vital part in this and voted him as the Raptors 2023 MVP. He had the best ERA and the lowest opponent batting average. He also led the team with 3 home runs. This is only his first season with the club so we look forard to seeing what 2024 will bring for him and the Raptors.

Herts Eagles (Single-A)

The Herts Eagles MVP is George Llewelyn Thomas. He may not have been at the top of the offensive and defensive categories, but the fact that his teammates voted for him speaks volumes about the role he played in the team, bringing everyone together and leading by example. The team made enormous progress over the course of the season and they are already preparing for 2024.

Apart from being 2023 Ravens MVP, Zak Beller also won the Play of the Year with his 3 home runs in a game. Close behind him in the vote were Lee Dunn for his 2-home-run-game and Ben Sporleder for his fearless catch in centerfield smashing into the outfield wall.

There was a tie in the Nob-Out Award category between Tyler Cote and Lewis Auchterlounie for the most spectacular mishap of the season. Tyler Cote caused a delay in the start of the game away at Bristol when he lost his wedding rind requiring an urgent search party where both the home and away players had to comb the field on their knees. The ring was found successfully.

Lewis Auchterlounie shares the Nob-Out Award with Tyler Cote. He was one of the fans who came down to watch the Herts Falcons NBL game and decided to enter the 200m fan race during the 5th inning stretch. The prize for the winner was a hot dog so there was a lot on the line. One furlong into the race Lewis went down after pulling a hamstring.

With 2023 award-winners confirmed, attention is turning to preparations for the 2024 season. What will the new year bring? How many Herts teams will we see and which leagues will they play in? Which players will be challenging to move up the leagues and will a Herts team bring a national championship trophy home?

Barracudas are the 2023 Hunlock Series champions

Barracudas are the 2023 Hunlock Series champions

The Black Barracudas finished top during the league stage of the Hunlock Series and went into the Postseason as the favourites so it was no surprise when they beat the Big Red Machine in the Final late on Sunday evening as the sun was going down on the final game day of the 2023 season.

photo by Herman Ng

The Postseason started with a do or die encounter between the Cheese Cutters and the Wizards who finished fourth and fifth, respectively. It proved to be an epic best-of-7 series which went the distance and the Wizards won by 4 games to 3.  They had to face the third-placed Buzzards next. Wizards eventually ran out of pitching arms and, despite putting up a good fight, lost the series.

photo by Herman Ng

The second seeded Big Red Machine upset the odds with a 3-1 series win against the Barracudas after another good outing on the mound for Erik Gustafson. That secured a place in the final for them while the Barracudas had to face the Buzzards in a best-of-3 semi-final series.

The Barracudas won that series 2.5-0.5 to book their place in the Final where they met the Red Machine for a second time of the day which gave them a chance to redeem themselves after losing to them earlier in the day.

Despite a strong performance by the Big Red Machine, which included a Play of the Year-nominated diving catch by Andy Cornish, the Barracudas won the Championship Series 3-1.

Hunlock Series Scoreboard

This year’s Hunlock Series saw around 100 players play 63 one-inning games. Many of the players were new to Herts and the club hopes to see them wearing the Herts jersey when the 2024 British baseball season commences.

These were the final games of the 2023 baseball season. The players now take a break over the winter but Spring Training is not too far away and planning for the 2024 season has already began.

If you are not a member of the club yet, the best way to keep up-to-date is to be added to the club’s mailing list. Contact us for more details about joining the club for 2024 or to subscribe to the mailing list.

Barracudas in pole position going into Hunlock Series Playoffs.

Barracudas in pole position going into Hunlock Series Playoffs.

The 16-game Hunlock Series regular season was completed on Sunday.  The Barracudas and the Big Red Machine were neck-and-neck going into the final game. The Barracudas won it to leave the two teams tied with identical win-loss record in first place but that was enough to clinch first place on the tie-break rule as that win gave them a superior head-to-head record.

The top two teams in the standings will have a considerable advantage in the playoffs.

The defending champions Blue Buzzards finished third, two and a half games back on the leaders, but they should not be written off.

View final standings

The Cheese Cutters and the Wizards find themselves in deep trouble occupying fourth and fifth place respectively. The unforgiving postseason format means that they will have to win four series in a row and they will have no room for error.

The two teams will get the Playoffs underway when they meet each other on Sunday morning. First pitch is at 9:30am. The loser will be eliminated. The winner would then meet the third placed Buzzards.  The loser of that series will be eliminated. The winner would then come up against the loser of the Barracudas versus Big Red Machine series. The winners of these two series will meet in the final.

Some of the series are best-of-7 format, others are best-of-5 or best-of-3 so it will be a marathon day for the lower seeded teams if the series go the distance.

It would take something special for the Cheese Cutters and the Wizards to reach the final, but it is not impossible. Paradoxically, the Wizards are bottom of the league standings but they have the best offence in the league. They have driven in 30 runs over the 16 games. However, their defence has been struggling and is the worst in the league. The Cheese Cutters have the worst run difference with minus 17. The scene is set perfectly for one of these two teams to cause a major upset.

The teams will receive a boost if they win their first two Playoff series as the 9-out daily limit on their pitchers will be reset for their third series of the day.

View Hunlock Series Postseason schedule

We have had glorious weather so far and Sunday is forecast to be another dry day so fans should get set for what could be a dramatic day of baseball to end the 2023 baseball season.

Herts Baseball Club celebrate the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark

Herts Baseball Club celebrate the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark

The Basing Hill Ballpark project was completed on June 20th but, with a busy schedule of league games and events, it wasn’t until last Sunday, October 1st, that the club found an available date in the calendar to mark the occasion.

Barnet Councillors, Anne Clarke, Giulia Innocenti and Nigel Young were the guests of honour and they threw out the ceremonial first pitch during the opening games of the 2023 Hunlock Series. During the ceremony the club expressed its gratitude to club members, the wider British and international baseball community, local residents and the many who contributed in various capacities – from grounds crew volunteers to architects.

The club highlighted the fantastic support of London Borough of Barnet councillors and members of staff from various departments. Councillor Peter Zinkin was overseas and wasn’t able to attend. He played a key part sponsoring the club’s Area Committee funding application.

The first phase of the project was to level and resurface the playing field with new grass.  That was implemented in September and October 2021 by the contractor Inscapes and it was time to move to phase two.

The club, with the help of Sport England, club members and the wider community successfully reached the £20,068 crowdfunding target in April 2022 and the London Borough of Barnet planning department granted the planning permission for the second phase of the project to commence.

In the summer of 2022 the club secured the services of several fantastic contractors. Galldris Group, who have been busy across the street with the huge Brent Cross Town development, implemented the excavation of the infield cutout areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.

Working on a very tight budget, the club relied on its own members and volunteers to do the heavy lifting of laying the 20 tonnes of sub-base and 40 tonnes of infield mix onto the cutout areas.

They somehow managed to avoid disruption to the youth and adult league schedules by squeezing all of this work into the five days between two weekends packed with games.

The first games on the new infield was the Triple-A League clash between the Herts Cardinals and the Cambridge Monarchs on 26 June, pictured above.

The mound clay blocks were installed on the pitcher’s mound and the batters’ and catcher’s boxes a week later.

The installation of the baseball backstop was completed by contractors Tate and Tonbridge Fencing in August 2022.

The last remaining step was the installation of the spectator rails on the first and third base side of the infield. With steel and fuel prices rising, the cost of this increased by 30% which delayed this final stage of the project.

It was completed successfully on 20 June 2023, just in time for an MLB Youth Baseball Clinic which Basing Hill Ballpark was selected to host.

It featured MLB stars, David Eckstein and Jake Arrieta – both World Series winners with St Louis Cardinals and Chicago Cubs, respectively. This was part of the 2023 MLB London Series events which culminated with the Chicago Cubs and St Louis Cardinals playing two official league games at the London Stadium on that weekend.

It will be interesting to see how this purpose-built baseball venue will develop in the coming years. Will there be more upgrades? With so many new players joining every year there already are four league teams playing at Basing Hill Ballpark so the venue will reach full capacity in the next few years. The club may need to replicate this project to avoid having to put new players on a waiting list.

Teams from Essex and Cambridge are the 2023 Herts Futures Tournament champions

Teams from Essex and Cambridge are the 2023 Herts Futures Tournament champions

The Essex Redbacks won the U15 and U11 divisions of the Herts Futures Tournament while the Cambridge Lancers won the U13 bracket but all the teams played their part in making this another successful edition of this competition.

photo by Rob Jones

The number of entries was up from 7 last year to 14 this year so it is good to see British baseball gradually recovering after a difficult 2020 Covid year.

The day started with the traditional opening ceremony introducing the teams and umpires. With Great Britain national team preparing to play in the European Championships final against Spain on the following day, this was a perfect opportunity for the players and fans to show their support. 

photo by Richard Williams

The first U15 division featured three teams and Essex Redbacks dominated from start to finish. The Essex Redbacks also won the U11 division.

photo by Marcus Grant

The U13 bracket went right down to the wire. The Buccaneers U13 were in pole position to win it with an unbeaten record but in their final game the Herts Hawks U13 proved to be too strong.

photo by Richard Williams

That gave the Herts team 3 wins and 1 loss which which proved to be just short as the Cambridge Lancers U13 had a marginally better record of 3 wins and 1 tied game against the Buccaneers U13 which reached the time limit with a score of 0-0 so it was not possible to determine the winner on the “roll-back” rule.

View the HFT scoreboard and final standings.

Since its creation in 2008, the Herts Futures Tournament has been a great day for the youth baseball community to get together at the end of the year. The club was delighted to see so many players, parents and coaches come along to enjoy it once again.

Our three photo albums from the day can be seen on our Flickr page – please feel free to find yourself!

Album 1

Album 2

Album 3

Hunlock Series starts this Sunday. League and playoff games will adopt the 9th Inning game format.

Hunlock Series starts this Sunday. League and playoff games will adopt the 9th Inning game format.

The game schedule for the 2023 Hunlock Series has been published and it has been confirmed that the “9th Inning” game format is in force which means that all games will be decided over a single inning only. This format was first adopted in the 2017 Hunlock Series. It recreates the tension and drama of the ninth inning.

The Green Cheese Cutters open the competition with a 4-game series against the Black Barracudas at 09:40am at Basing Hill Ballpark, followed by four more of these 4-game series with the day ending at around 5:30pm.

Opening Ceremony

There will be an opening ceremony at 12:30pm for the annual group photo of all the teams. This event will also see a ceremony to officially mark the opening of Basing Hill Ballpark after the completion of Phase 2 in June. Five local Councillors will throw out the ceremonial first pitch as the guests of honour.

Tournament rules

The following regulations will apply to the “9th Inning” format.

• The batting order of each team remains unchanged for the duration of the day unless a substitution is made.

• A substituted player cannot re-enter the same game, however that player can re-enter a subsequent game.

• The batter who was next to bat upon completion of the previous game will be the first batter in the next game with the rest of the batting lineup coming up to bat in order.

What is also noticeable from the schedule is that the home team alternates over the course of the 4-game series which implies that the fielding team in the bottom of the inning will remain in the field in the top of the inning of the subsequent game. This scheduling approach was adopted in previous years and it sped-up the games enormously as that halved the number of times teams go in and out of the field. There even was no need for warm-up pitches as the pitchers were ready. The downside is that a pitcher will need to stay on the mound for 6 outs without a break as opposed to the usual 3 outs, which could mean twice as many pitches thrown in an inning. This is where the defence can really help pitchers, by minimising errors and not adding to the pitcher’s pitch count.

League and Playoff Format

The first two weeks of the Series will see a league format where each team will play a total of 16 games, 4 games against each of their opponents.

The postseason playoff will be played on 15 October. Those games will also adopt the one-inning game format. See playoff tournament tree above.

Other rules

The other rules which differ from what teams are used to in the BBF leagues are:

• Pitching Restrictions. A player can appear as a pitcher in one, two or more games per day, but no player shall accumulate more than 3 innings (9 outs) as a pitcher over the course of the day. It is the responsibility of the opposing team to inform the umpire when a pitcher reaches the limit. Managers must inform opponents of the number of innings pitched by each of their pitchers during the day prior to the start of each game.

• No Mercy Rule will be in force.

• If the game is tied after completion of the final inning, each team is awarded half a win and half a loss in the standings.

The 2023 Hunlock Series Draft took place on Friday night.  See more details here.

If you have not signed up to play in the Hunlock Series, it is not too late. Contact Herts Baseball Club for details on how to sign up.

Herts Futures Tournament this Saturday.

Herts Futures Tournament this Saturday.

Ten teams will be in action at the 2023 Herts Futures Tournament (HFT) which will take place this Saturday, 30 September 2023. The number of entries is up from 7 last year so it is good to see British baseball gradually recovering after a difficult 2020 Covid year.

U15 Division

  • Essex Redbacks (U15)
  • Herts Falcons (U15)

U13 Division

  • Brighton Fireballs U13
  • Buccaneers  U13
  • Cambridge Lancers U13
  • Herts Hawks U13
  • Herts Raptors U13

U11 Division

  • Herts Londoners U11
  • Northants Centurions U11
  • Sheffield Cubs U11

The opening ceremony will take place at 10:30am. The first games begin at 11:15am.

To view the games schedule click here.

photo by Rob Jones

“Herts Baseball Club welcomes new players at any time of the year” said the club’s co-Director of Youth Baseball, Aspi Dimitrov. “Any children aged between 6 and 15 who are interested to give baseball a try can contact the club. It is not too late to play in these games, regardless of whether you are a complete beginner or an advanced player.”

The HFT was first held in 2008 and is now a permanent fixture in the British baseball calendar. It brings together youth teams from across the country for a day of baseball at one of the best baseball venues in the United Kingdom.

For more information about the event visit the Herts Futures Tournament homepage.

One silver and two bronze medals for Herts in the National Youth Baseball Championships

One silver and two bronze medals for Herts in the National Youth Baseball Championships

LYBL continue to be the dominant force in British youth baseball as they finished in first place in all four age divisions of the BBF Youth National Baseball Championships. However, Herts Baseball Club is closing the gap.

U19

The Herts Falcons faced LYBL in the U19 national final. There were exceptionally talented players on both rosters with experience playing in the National Baseball League and for the Great Britain U15 and U18 National Teams. Those who were at the game saw very high level of baseball and a number of GB coaching staff were there too to assess British players.

Ten of the U19 players were members of the Herts Falcons NBL team this season –  seven of them were on the Falcons U19 roster and three were with LYBL U19 as this was the youth baseball programme which they came through. Unfortunately for Herts, Ben Sporleder, wasn’t able to recover from an injury in time for this game and Tasuku Ishihara also wasn’t available to play. This opened an opportunity for U19 players from the other Herts adult league teams to shine in this final. All seven Herts adult league teams were represented on the Herts Falcons U19 roster.

Dan Moran was the starting pitcher in the first game of this best-of-3 series and he had an excellent outing. The game went right down to the wire with LYBL U19 leading 4-3 going into the final inning, but they managed to drive in 4 more runs to win the game. 

Game Two became a must-win for the Falcons U19 and they had the best possible start taking a 2 -0 lead with starting pitcher Erik Gustafson keeping LYBL batters off balance and getting outs.  They had the opportunity to extend their lead when they loaded the bases with no one out in the later innings but LYBL U19 stayed calm under pressure to get out of that situation without allowing any runs to score. That was a missed opportunity and the momentum of the game changed. LYBL took the lead and didn’t look back as they won Game Two 9-3 winning the series and lifting the U19 national championship trophy.  GB U18 National Team manager, Erick Henson, chose Kaden Horwood as the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the series.

U16

photo by Richard Williams

The Herts U16 team also faced LYBL in the semi-final and their task was just as difficult. J.J. Sanders kept the Falcons U16 in the game with a commanding performance on the mound but LYBL found a way through the Herts defence to take a 4-1 lead.   They managed to extend that lead to 10-1 after J.J. Sanders reached his regulation pitch count limit which is in force in youth baseball.

photo by Marcus Grant

In the U16 Bronze Medal game the Falcons U16 came up against the Essex Redbacks U16s who took a 6-3 lead. Herts players needed to find a way back into the game and they produced a late comeback to win 11-7 and take the U16 bronze medal.

U13

photo by Marcus Grant

The luck of the draw also paired Herts with the favourites LYBL in the U13 division.  Chi Hong Wong and Hans Hartman combined on the mound for the Falcons. They and the defence behind them had to battle against a very competent opponent. Similar to the U16 semi-final, Herts kept pace in the first half of the game but LYBL took the game beyond them eventually. Final score 12-3.

photo by Marcus Grant

London Mets were the opponents in the Bronze medal game and they won it 7-3.

U11

The Falcons U11 team secured the second Bronze medal for Herts Baseball Club. They came up against a strong Mets U11 team in the semi-final but bounced back in the Bronze medal game with a win against Essex Redbacks U11.

photo by Marcus Grant

MLB Spy

There were over 200 players and many more fans at Farnham Park for the  2023 National Youth Baseball Championships and they may not have realised that among them was an MLB All Star.  Chase Utley (pictured above on the bench) is a World Series winner with the Philadelphia Phillies but on Saturday he was quietly following the next generation of British Baseball players as an ambassador for MLB in Europe. Will one of them go on to play in MLB in the future? We look forward to following the progress of these talented young players in the coming years.

This Saturday

There is one more event for boys and girls aged between 6 and 15 this Saturday in the Annual Herts Futures Tournament.  New players can still register to play in the tournament.  Contact Herts Baseball Club for more details.

Bennett, Badenhorst, Dearing, Cresswell and Shinkawa are the first round picks.

Bennett, Badenhorst, Dearing, Cresswell and Shinkawa are the first round picks.

The 2023 Hunlock Series Draft was completed on Friday night. The managers of the teams had a plethora of talent to choose from with 82 players drafted over 17 rounds.

THE FIRST ROUND PICKS

It was no surprise that four of the five first round picks were pitchers.

On a toss of a coin, the Yellow Wizards had the first pick. Manager, Osvaldo Badia, selected Sean Bennett (pictured above) – a member of the Triple-A League Semi-Finalist, Herts Cardinals.

The Black Barracudas chose pitcher and infielder Josh Badenhorst with their first pick. He has been wearing the MK Bucks jersey this season and has previously played for the various Herts youth teams.

The Big Red Machine had the next pick. They selected Herts Cardinals player-manager Brian Dearing whose primary positions are starting pitcher and shortstop.

The defending Hunlock Series champions, Blue Buzzards, were next and they picked Herts Falcons first baseman and outfielder, Mike Cresswell.

Finally, Green Cheese Cutters manager, Callum Ferrier, selected Testuro Shinkawa with his first pick.

FREE AGENTS AND TRADES

The full team rosters determined at last night’s draft are shown here.

New players are sill regisering and they will be added to the teams as free agents.

New players aged 14 or above, regardless of whether they are members of Herts or another club or completely new to baseball, can be added to the teams at any point. To be added to the teams or for more details contact Herts Baseball Club.

OPENING DAY

The Series commence on Sunday, 1 October. The first games start at 09:40am at Basing Hill Ballpark in north west London. Admission is free. For complete Series schedule click here.

4 Herts teams compete in the national youth baseball championships this Saturday

4 Herts teams compete in the national youth baseball championships this Saturday

Herts Baseball Club will be represented in all four divisions of the 2023 BBF Youth National Baseball Championships this Saturday, 23 September.

U19 Division

The Herts Falcons U19 team goes into the Final as the underdogs against LYBL U19. However, Herts U19 manager, Will Zucker, is not fazed by the fact that the odds are stacked against his team. His roster features young players from all seven Herts adult league teams so it will be interesting to see if Herts players from the NBL, Triple-A, Double-A and Single-A leagues will be able to combine and work together as a team with very little time to prepare since the end of the adult league season last week.

The Final is a best-of-3 series with all three games being played on the same day. Pitching depth and physical stamina will be critical.

The club’s best finish in this age group was as runner-up in 2013 national championship when they beat the London Mets 6-4 in the semi-final and lost 6-9 in the final to the Cobham Cougars. Will Zucker was 16 years old and was the starting pitcher for the Herts Harriers in the final so this year he will have another shot at the U19 national title, this time as team manager.

U16 Division

photo by Richard Williams

Herts Falcons U16 will also face LYBL U16 in one of the semi-finals. The two teams met three times during the BBF Yotuh Super League regular season and LYBL won all three games, so they have the upper hand this Saturday. Herts U16 manager Nick Sanders will need his team to be at their very best if they are to eliminate the favourites.  The winner will face the winner of the other semi-final between Essex Redbacks and LYBL’s second team.

U13 Division

photo by Richard Williams

The format in the U13 Division is the same as the U16s and Herts Falcons U13 will face LYBL U13 with an equally difficult task. Herts U13 manager, Stephen Wong, added 10 extra training sessions during the summer holidays and this Saturday is the ideal opportunity to see if his team will manage to close the gap on LYBL. In the other Semi-Final, LYBL’s second team clash with the London Mets. The winners of the two Semi-Finals will meet in the final.

U11 Division

The Herts U11 roster includes players from the club’s two branches in Hemel Hempstead and in London so manager Daniel Rose will have the difficult task of blendinU them together. They face Mets U11 in the second semi-final with the winner facing the winner of the other semi-final between LYBL U11 and Essex Redbacks U11.

12 years of hurt…

The last time a Herts youth baseball team won the national championships was in 2010 when the Herts U14 team beat the London Mets 2-1 in the final. The closest that a Herts youth team has come to lifting the national championship trophy since 2010 was in 2011 and 2013 when they finished as runners-up in the U14 and U17 divisions, respectively. Can they bring the silverware back home this weekend?