Category: Video News

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.

Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding campaign needs 100 supporters to secure £6,000 pledge from Sport England

Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding campaign needs 100 supporters to secure £6,000 pledge from Sport England

Herts Baseball Club has launched a crowdfunding campaign for Phase Two of the Basing Hill Ballpark project in north west London. If 100 supporters back the project, Sport England will pledge £6,000.

Six months ago, the club raised £21,413 through crowdfunding for the first phase of the project which aimed to re-grade, level and resurface the baseball playing field with new grass. That stage of the project was completed successfully. The new grass is progressing well and is expected to be ready for games in May.

The club is now looking to raise £20,068 to install the baseball elements including the baseball backstop, infield perimeter fence and the infield cut-out clay areas around the bases and the pitcher’s mound.

Herts received confirmation from Sport England that they will pledge £6,000 to the project if it reaches 25% of the target (£5,017) and receives donations from 100 supporters. 

Club president, Aspi Dimitrov, said that “the timing of this campaign is not ideal for families given the difficult economic conditions in the UK, war in Ukraine, the world recovering from Covid pandemic, fuel and energy prices going up etc”. But he added that the club feels strongly that “baseball plays an important part in our lives and, if we deliver this project successfully, it will give a boost to everyone connected with Herts Baseball Club and the wider community in NW London and other clubs around British Baseball who will be playing at that venue”.

Most club members and fans already made significant donations last year during the crowdfunding of Phase 1. The club is mindful of the fact that most supporters cannot donate large amounts at every stage of the project, but, even if they can only donate a few pounds, that will play an important role in reaching 100 supporters needed to secure the £6,000 pledge from Sport England.

Note: When making a pledge to the project, at the checkout you will see a suggestion from the Crowdfunder platform to give them a percentage of the donation as a tip.  That tip does not support the Basing Hill Ballpark project.  You are not required to give a tip to them if you don’t want to so you would need to remove that tip at the checkout.

This type of project is not new to Herts Baseball Club. In 2009 they delivered a very similar project when they constructed a second baseball diamond at their branch in Hemel Hempstead to meet the increasing demand for baseball.

Individuals, businesses and other organisations can now make a pledge on the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding page. The campaign must reach the £20,068 target by midnight on 28 April 2022.  The money raised will be received by the club only if the project hits the target.  If it doesn’t, all pledges will be cancelled and payments refunded.

If the target is reached, work on the project is expected to commence in early May and the new ballpark is expected to be unveiled by the end of May.

For more information and to make a pledge, go to the Basing Hill Ballpark (Phase 2) crowdfunding page.

Unlike last year’s crowdfunding campaign, this time around individuals and businesses have teamed up with the campaign to generate revenue and reach new customers. They will be able to promote and sell their products, services and experiences, reaching a new audience through the crowdfunding campaign by offering “rewards”. Go to the crowdfunding page to see examples of businesses and individuals who have already done so.  Contact the club for more details or to add a reward.

WATCH: What do MLB pitchers do when in London on a chilly day in January?

WATCH: What do MLB pitchers do when in London on a chilly day in January?

Baltimore Orioles minor league pitcher, Kyle Martin, was in London last month and Herts Baseball Club supported him to continue his preparations for the 2022 baseball season during his visit.

The 23-year-old right handed pitcher was drafted by the MLB team in the fifteenth round of the 2019 Draft. So far in his professional career with the Orioles Single-A affiliates Aberdeen IronBirds and the Delmarva Shorebirds he has a 4-4 record with an ERA of 4.66.

Video produced by Fexefilming.

As part of his pre-season training program, he had a bullpen sessions working with catcher Conner Brown who is also 23 years old and who came through the Herts youth baseball programme and went on to play for the Herts Falcons in the National Baseball League and for the Great Britain National Team.

Basing Hill Ballpark project to commence this week

Basing Hill Ballpark project to commence this week

Earlier today Herts Baseball Club confirmed that they have appointed Inscapes as the contractor for the Basing Hill Ballpark project. They are a company with extensive experience in this industry and among their clients are some high profile venues such as The Millennium Stadium in Cardiff (video below), Plymouth Argyle Football Club, Gleneagles Golf Course, Hampton Court Palace among others.

Inscapes Millennium Stadium Pitch Construction

They are scheduled to commence work at Basing Hill this Friday, 10 September.  The project is almost identical to Herts’ 2009-2010 project of building Diamond One at Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead.

They will first spray off the playing area and a week or two later will cultivate, re-grade and level the field before they plant the new grass seeds.

It is expected that the new grass playing surface will be ready for its first baseball league games in May 2022 in time for the new season.

Below are images from some of the projects implemented by Inscapes.

New baseball league aims to give kids the MLB experience in Herts and NW London

New baseball league aims to give kids the MLB experience in Herts and NW London

With the success of the Covid vaccination roll out, families around England are looking forward to resuming outdoor activities in April. Today’s announcement by Herts Baseball Club gives them even more to look forward to this summer with the launch of a brand new youth baseball league in Herts and London.

The Herts Youth Baseball League (HYBL) aims to bring the MLB experience by incorporating as many of the features of Major League Baseball as possible.

Children and their parents watching MLB on their TVs must have wondered what it would be like to wear those uniforms and play for a team on a beautiful baseball diamond. Or compete in playoffs surrounded by cheering fans enjoying the food and unique atmosphere of the ballpark. Even without MLB’s multi-billion dollar budget, the HYBL aims to offer the players and families an experience as close to MLB as possible.

Boys and girls aged 6 to 14, from complete beginners to advanced players, are able to join the various teams which will play in the different age divisions.

Games will be played at the club’s two ballparks – Grovehill Ballpark in Hemel Hempstead and Basing Hill Ballpark in North West London. They are conveniently located within a thirty minute drive from each other. Substantial investment has gone into Grovehill Ballpark, making it one of the best baseball venues in the UK.  Crowdfunding is underway to repeat that success story at Basing Hill Ballpark.

The regular season will comprise twelve games and around 75% of the season will be played at the team’s nearest ballpark to reduce travel for families. Similar to MLB, teams will be in a race to qualify for the postseason playoffs which will determine the league champions.

The 2021 game schedule for the Under-15 and Under-11 divisions of the league have been published. Visit the League website.

Last month, the Prime Minister unveiled a plan to come out of the Covid lockdown. As a sport which had a Covid-secure protocol approved by the government in July 2020, baseball clubs up and down the country are expected to restart activities from 29 March onwards.

Opening Day of the 2021 HYBL season has been scheduled for Saturday, 8 May. In the four weeks before that, children can come to the Open Days to try baseball and to help them decide if they would like to register for the season and play in the league. The Open Days will be held at both ballparks in Hemel Hempstead and in NW London.

The team managers will adopt an MLB-style Draft system to select the teams. This should ensure that all the teams are of equal strength, which should make it an exciting and a close race for the playoffs.

In an interview with the two joint Directors of Youth Baseball, Will Zucker and Aspi Dimitrov, they outlined their goal to “recreate that special baseball atmosphere in our ballparks with food, music and a lot more. We want children and their families to enjoy game days, allowing developing players the incredible feeling of playing in front of fans – similar to the superstars of MLB.”

HYBL is aiming to have four league teams in each age group – two based in Hemel Hempstead and two in NW London. This will not be an easy task as the nation is in the process of coming out a lockdown so there will be bumps along the way. But Zucker, Dimitrov and the rest of the youth baseball department are optimistic that, with support from club members and the wider community, the league has enormous potential to grow into something special, “it’s crucial the league inspires support from the community to spread the word. We are asking Herts baseball families to share news of our league on social media and with their friends, colleagues and neighbours. If every club member recommends the league to two friends, we will reach our target.”

Players are now registering for the 2021 season. More information about joining the league can be found here.

To come to try baseball at no cost at one of the upcoming Open Days, or if you require more information, contact the club.

Herts Baseball Club pitches to the Mayor of London as part of its Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign

Herts Baseball Club pitches to the Mayor of London as part of its Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding campaign

Herts Baseball Club has launched a crowdfunding campaign to build a baseball venue at Basing Hill Park in North West London and hopes that the Mayor of London will also back the project.

Herts adult and youth teams began playing baseball in Basing Hill Park in 2019, but there were significant challenges to this. Their baseball infrastructure was very basic. The playing field surface was in a derelict state, to such an extent that football teams stopped playing there more than ten years ago. The park suffered further damage when it was used to train police horses.

The club is now looking to raise over £55,000 to create a high quality baseball venue. This money will be used to level and resurface the playing field with new grass, install a permanent backstop, create an infield, team benches and other baseball elements. The project will also bring the park cafe back to life, a building which has been stagnant for over ten years.

If the club hits its crowdfunding target, Basing Hill Ballpark will not only bring baseball and softball into the heart of the community but will also revitalise this small, but cherished, outdoor space. The park will become a family oriented setting with organised events, outdoor cinema and a newly restored cafe, providing for the whole community in a Covid-secure environment.

The club has already submitted its pitch to the Mayor of London, who will be following the campaign closely over the next few weeks. If the project shows that it has support from the community, the Mayor could pledge as much as 50% of the total project cost.

This type of project is not new to Herts Baseball Club. In 2009 they delivered a very similar project when they constructed a second baseball diamond at their branch in Hemel Hempstead to accommodate the increasing number of players. 

A large proportion of the club’s members are based in NW London and there are many more who want to play baseball but are unable to make the journey to Hemel Hempstead. 

Baseball was in the spotlight when the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees came to London to play MLB games in 2019 in front of a 60,000 sell-out crowd. This led to a further increase in the number of enquiries from kids and adults who wanted to play baseball. Basing Hill Ballpark is in a densely populated part of London with good transport connections which makes it an excellent venue to meet that demand.

Herts is competing with 80 other projects for the Mayor’s support and its club president, Aspi Dimitrov, emphasised that “it will be a big challenge to reach the crowdfunding target, especially as so many have been affected by the Covid pandemic but, if we achieve it, we will create something very special for the community”. He added that “every pledge, large or small, will play a vital role in this campaign and supporters can pledge as little as £2”.

Individuals, businesses and other organisations can make a pledge on the Basing Hill Ballpark crowdfunding page on Spacehive, which is working closely with the Mayor of London and other local authorities to help fund community-led projects. The campaign must reach the target by 11 May 2021.  The money raised will be received by the club only if the project hits the target.  If it doesn’t, all pledges will be cancelled.

If the target is reached, work on the project is expected to commence in August and the aim is to unveil the new ballpark in time for the 2022 baseball season.

For more information and to make a pledge, go to the Basing Hill Ballpark project page on Spacehive.

WATCH: Robert Smith becomes the first ever Herts player to appear in the U18 World Cup

WATCH: Robert Smith becomes the first ever Herts player to appear in the U18 World Cup

Earlier today, over 5,600 miles away, Robert Smith became the first ever Herts player to appear in the U18 World Cup.

He took the mound in relief in the third inning for South Africa against Panama, who already had an unassailable lead. Below is the video link to the game.

Smith allowed only 3 earned runs for the remainder of the game which gives him the third best ERA out of the eight South African pitchers who have pitched so far.

South Africa is ranked 23rd in the world and has been drawn in a particularly difficult group with the number one and two seeds, Japan and USA, respectively. They will play Spain next tomorrow Monday, 2 September, at 15:30 local time. The games are played at the impressive newly-unveiled Gijang-Hyundai Dream Ballpark in Busan, South Korea.

London has a new baseball team

London has a new baseball team

Earlier this evening, at its 22nd Annual General Meeting, Herts Baseball Club unveiled its first London-based team. At a packed venue it was announced that the name of the team will be the Herts Londoners.

In deciding the name, the club opted to retain its established brand name, Herts, symbolising its origins, while at the same time the team’s moniker, Londoners, signifies its new geographic location. Over the years Herts teams have featured a large number of players from North West London, but this new team will welcome not only these existing Herts players, but, more importantly, it aims to give playing opportunities to everyone in North West London who is interested to play baseball but until now has not had a team located near them and has found it difficult to travel to the club’s existing baseball complex in Hemel Hempstead.

This additional club base will give Herts extra flexibility and greater capacity to accommodate players of all levels from complete beginners to players of the highest calibre. The MLB London Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Yankees will be played on 29 and 30 June, but it is already having a positive effect in attracting new players to the club. The team managers will need to show foresight and leave extra room in their rosters so that they have the capacity to accommodate the surge in demand from new players as we get closer to the London Series.

The Herts Londoners will be wearing the traditional white uniform with the red Herts letters on the chest and the red letter “H” on their black baseball caps. The team’s logo also reflects these established branding features and the Club’s colours of red, white and black.

The 31 January deadline for team entries in the various leagues of the British Baseball Federation (BBF) is fast-approaching. The Club did not reveal at this stage which BBF league tier the Londoners will be entering, but it will announce this on or around the deadline day. After that, the focus will turn to the 2019 Season Opening Day in April and the first ever game in the history of this team.

Stay tuned for our next article which will include all the facts and details of the ballpark in North West London which will be the home of the Herts Londoners.

For more details about how to join any of the Herts adult and youth baseball and softball teams or to try baseball at an upcoming open session, please contact us. You can now follow the Herts Londoners on Twitter.