Tag: Herts Falcons

Falcons shock Southampton, Upset Defending Champs

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

Battling the ‘Enfield hop’

London Capitals, 11 – Herts Falcons, 9

In a game where forfeit (and consequently the dashing of any playoff berth hopes) looked likely, the Herts Falcons battled adversity all day long in the Father’s Day matchup with the London Capitals.

Continue reading “Battling the ‘Enfield hop’”

Falcons playing spoiler, pick up win

On Sunday’s triple-header affair at Grovehill Ballpark, it was almost as if the weather was tied to the Falcons emotions.

The day started (early) with intermittent rain in the morning as the Falcons took on the 5th place Brighton Jets. Tyler Badenhorst was on the mound for the for the Falcons, facing Jamie Ratcliff of the Jets. After two rain delays, a particularly strong bout of rain forced the umpires to call the game with Jets in the lead. The minimum number of innings (4) had been played however, and the Jets walked away with a 5-1 victory.

After a long break, which saw the London Capitals defeat the Jets, the sun returned just in time for the Falcons second game of the day. With the sun there also came a boost in morale: just one week previous, the Falcons had played two tough games against the Capitals and only narrowly lost them both. 

Above: As the weather improved, so too did the Falcon’s performance.

Zack Longboy started on the mound for the Falcons, throwing a complete game and picking up the 10-8 win. The Herts bats looked alive as the team peppered hits off of London’s starter Maxime Flayol and relief pitcher Yusuke Ueno.

Herts led, albeit by a tight margin, for most of the game even stretching the lead to 3 runs in the 5th inning. A late home run gave the struggling Capitals a glimmer of hope, but leading 10-8, Herts Manager Lee Manning left Longboy out to finish the game and the Falcons shut the door.

The 10-8 victory over the 3rd place London Capitals marks the Falcons’ third win of the year, moving them into 6th place and ahead of the South London Pirates. While it is mathematically improbable that the Falcons could sneak into the playoffs, over the next six weeks they will be playing the role of spoiler as they match up against the NBL’s top dogs.


Zack Longboy’s dual threat performance When asked for his player of the game, Manager Manning lauded Zack Longboy’s performance both on the mound and at the plate. He went “5 for 6 [at the plate] and pitched beautifully, working his way out of jams like a seasoned pro,” Manning said. “He gets better every time [and] I have the joy of watching him play.” His performance against the Capitals was Longboy’s first career complete game in the NBL and second career win. And, of his five hits, two came with the bases loaded. 

More debuts Two more players made their Falcons debut on Sunday. Ian McCann played second base and came on in relief of Badenhorst in Game 1. In Game 2, Aaron Witter, a 14-year-old regular for the Herts Raptors, also got a cup of coffee with the NBL squad as he came off the bench to play right field. Witter’s experience is indicative of the fact that “Herts project youth is starting to pay off,” as Manning said, after the game. “The Capitals are a great team and our youngest player (14-year-old Aaron Witter) got the final out.” (Witter secured a fly ball to end the game.)

Execution, execution, execution Three critical runs of the 10 that the Falcon’s scored came via the suicide squeeze – Manning deploying an aggressive style with runners on third base. Although prior to Sunday, Louis Hare had never laid down a bunt in game, two of these squeezes involved him on the bunting end. A fourth squeeze was also put into motion, although a pick play to third by the Capitals pitcher left Matt Gilbert to improvise. When the dust cleared Gilbert had scored, leaving many rushing to check the record books on the oldest player to ever steal home.


Interference? Late in Game 2, a Capital’s runner scrambled from second to third, dislodging the Falcon’s shortstop in the process. As Louis Hare was in the process of fielding a ground ball, the runner was called out for interference, ending the inning. The Capital’s first base coach reacted strongly to the call, getting in the umpires face and causing a loud confrontation. Subsequently, the player was ejected and play continued without further interruption.


On Sunday July 17th, the Falcons will take on the 4th place Essex Arrows (12-12) at Town Mead Ballpark. First pitch for Game 1 is 12:00 PM and Game 2 is scheduled to begin at 3:00 PM.

A day of debuts

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.


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.”


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.