Herts Falcons, 5 – Southampton Mustangs, 2 In a game with a tangible sense of added emotion, the Herts Falcons upset the Southampton Mustangs on the back of a Miguel Hector 3-run bomb, and a complete game, 4-hitter for starter Zack Longboy.
From the first pitch, Southampton looked ready to continue their streak of hot hitting as a bloop, a hard liner and a wild pitch pushed two runs across in the top of the first. On the mound for the Mustangs was Alejandro Morense, who also looked untouchable early with a sharp curveball.
After being blanked for the first two innings, the Herts offense came alive, led by Jarrod Pretorius, who collected two hits in his return to the Falcons, and Tyler Badenhorst who drove in a run to reduce the deficit to 2-1. It was the bottom of the 4
After being blanked for the first two innings, the Herts offense came alive, led by Jarrod Pretorius, who collected two hits in his return to the Falcons, and Tyler Badenhorst who drove in a run to reduce the deficit to 2-1.
It was the bottom of the 4th however, when the Herts bats really began to do their damage. Singles by Badenhorst and catcher Phil Clark put ducks on the pond for Miguel Hector, who smashed a no-doubter over the wall in left, to bring the score to 4-2, Herts. Hector’s production in the 8-hole, including what was, without question, one of the biggest plays of the game, is indicative of a Herts lineup that produced one-through-nine on Sunday.
On the other side of the ball, Herts got a dominant performance by starter Zack Longboy who allowed only 2 runs on four hits, in the complete game win. After the top of the first, Longboy blanked the hard-hitting Mustangs, who’s lineup includes several GB Senior Nationals, for the next 6 innings with a biting two-seamer that ran in on Southampton hitters all day.
In support of Longboy, the Herts defense which has often struggled with error-laced innings this season, also looked on point, buoyed by the play of third baseman Pretorius and centerfielder Darren Meintjes. Clark, who called an excellent game behind the plate, also showcased stellar defense, allowing no passed balls and keeping the Mustangs’ runners in check.
Padding the lead, hits by first-baseman Cris Hiche and a double roped off the wall in left for John Blose added another run in the bottom of the 5th, bringing the lead to 5-2, Herts. A late push in the top of the 7th by the Mustangs saw two men reach on a double and a walk, but a timely pick off at 2nd by Longboy and a ground ball to third ended the threat, and sealed the Falcons’ win.
All day, emotions seemed to be running high in the Herts dugout, the team fired up to play the defending-champ-Mustangs. “We’ve got a great team when we have our full roster out and [we] can compete with all the top teams” Manager Lee Manning said. “Longboy threw a masterclass and makes me proud of our youth system. He’s developed so much over the last two years, I expect to see him in the GB senior set up soon.”
WHAT’S NEXT? British baseball fans are encouraged to attend the British Summer Time/MLB UK event in Hyde Park this evening July, 4th. The event will pit two teams of former major leaguers, including Cliff Floyd, Carlos Pena and Shawn Greene, against one other in a home run derby competition. Stayed tuned for post-event coverage on the Herts Baseball website.
For the Falcons, the next matchup will be a doubleheader against a familiar foe: the Southampton Mustangs, who will no doubt be looking for revenge.
Doubleheader: Herts Falcons vs. Southampton Mustangs
Game 1: 12:00 p.m.
Game 2: 3:00 p.m.
Location: Grovehill Ballpark, HP2 6NH