Strong pitching performances by two players making their Falcons debut propelled the Herts NBL squad to one of their finer performances in what has been an up and down 2016. Although the team lost both games of the doubleheader, the first 12-10 (in 9 innings) and the second 5-3 (in 7 innings), Manager Lee Manning was left very impressed with the team.
“Today was some of the best baseball we played all season,” Manning said after the two tough away games against the 3rd place London Capitals, lauding in particular the debuts of Tyler Badenhorst out of South Africa who pitched 3 1/3 innings in Game 1 and Matt Corran (pictured) a former cricket player, who came on in relief of Badenhorst.
Both pitchers showed plus velocity on their fastballs, with Badenhorst also showcasing a polished arsenal of plus off speed pitches including a knuckleball and forkball.
Above: Matt Corran, who has played baseball for less than a year, was impressive on the mound in his NBL debut.
In support of Badehorst and Corran, the Falcons also looked impressive at the plate with clutch run-scoring hits and great at-bats especially with two strikes. In the end however, a key factor in the loss was the Capital’s ability to control the running game as London’s pitcher-catcher battery limited Herts to only one stolen base.
In Game 2, the Falcons hitter’s provided much of the same, grinding out tough at bats, although facing the NBL’s official ERA leader in Justin Harris, the hits were harder to come by.
On the other side of the ball, Louis Hare proved especially pivotal with his defense, coming up time and again with big defensive plays in support of Zack Longboy’s 6 innings on the mound in Game 2.
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
Louis Hare’s Defense Early in Game 2, Hare knocked down one of the hardest hit ground balls of the day, taking the ball off his Adam’s apple, before recovering and flipping the ball to the second basemen to complete the play and preserve the Falcon’s early lead.
This play exemplified the excellent work Hare put in at shortstop throughout the day, providing stability at a position where the club has lacked this year. “[Hare] was amazing and fielded everything cleanly,” Manning said. “He gave our defense a much improved look and most importantly, stopped the errors in that position which has killed us this year.”
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Balk? The tight, competitive nature of both games was evident in other ways as well, including a few lengthy stoppages to discuss the rule book with the umpire crew. One particular moment of controversy surrounded a balk call late in the Game 1 – Corran stopping his delivery mid-motion after the Capital’s cleanup hitter appeared to step backwards out of the box. After much deliberation the balk call was upheld leading to the Capitals scoring a critical run to take the lead.
Next Sunday July 10th, the Falcons will host two different teams at Grovehill Ballpark. First pitch for Game 1 against the 5th place Brighton Jets (7-12) is 10:30 AM and Game 2, against the 3rd place London Capitals (15-7), is scheduled to begin at 2:30 PM.