Tag: Matt Gilbert

Falcons pick up another win

Facing the 4th place Essex Arrows, the Herts Falcons split the double header, picking up another win against a playoff caliber team.

Game 1 featured the Arrows’ hard throwing righty who – excluding a walk to leadoff man John Blose who later scored – was pretty much untouchable. Racking up a high strike out total, the righty no-hit the Falcons through 4 innings before being relieved. For the Falcons, Zack Longboy took the mound, going the distance and holding the Arrows to a total of two hits.

The two hits however came at costly times for Herts as the Arrows’ hot hitting lefty Dustin Rowland doubled home two runs in the bottom of the 5th with one of the few hard hit balls by either team all game. The two runs erased a one run Falcons lead, drawing the scoreline to 4-3 Arrows.

Over the next two frames, the Herts bats stayed quiet while the Arrows tacked on another run to win the pitchers duel by a final score of 5-3.

Above: John Blose (#91) racked up gaudy walk totals with exceptional plate discipline and ignited the Falcons’ offense.

As the temperature reached a steamy high of 29 degrees, the bats on both teams also heated up, the scoring opening up in Game 2.

Tyler Badenhorst got the call for Herts, while the Arrows started righty Jamie Gregory who has struggled on the mound this season.

The scoring was early and often as the Arrows picked up three runs in the 1st before Herts came back with five in the 2nd. After 4 innings of work however, Badenhorst who had competed hard on the mound all day, went down with a right elbow injury (status yet to be confirmed). Matt Gilbert took over on the mound working out of a jam and preserving a two run lead for Herts.

In the Herts’ half of the 6th, Gilbert doubled with the bases loaded bringing home three runs and stretching the lead to 10-4. Gilbert’s three RBI knock would come to loom large as the game wore on.

In the bottom of the 6th, the Arrows rallied for 6 runs off of Gilbert, tying the game. The majority of these runs came with two outs as the Herts fielders struggled to put away the final out of the inning.

Despite the Arrow’s momentum, the Falcon’s rallied in the 7th picking up two runs on a line drive single to left by Blose after a beautifully executed sac bunt by Takaya Miki to move the runners into scoring position. The clutch hit stretched the Herts’ lead to 12-10 with three outs to go.

Longboy came on to close out the game and, after a lead off walk, retired 3 batters in a row to earn the save and secure a 12-10 Falcons win (their fourth of the season).


Fill in skipper Matt Gilbert took over the player-manager duties on Sunday with Manager Lee Manning out of the country on holiday. However, despite the extra responsibilities of Manager, Gilbert still came up big for the Falcons at the plate, his three run double arguably the most important hit of the entire double header.

Blose’s patience John Blose displayed impressive plate discipline throughout the day, drawing three walks, and continuously going deep into the count. His approach also manifested itself in hard contact throughout the day (whenever he wasn’t taking a base on balls). Blose also made a fantastic play on defense to end Game 2 – ranging to his right to catch a soft liner before pivoting and making an off balance perfect-strike throw to first base to pick up the double play.

Injury bug strikes The Falcons were forced to use every player they had as Ian McCann exited the game with a leg injury in the 4th, Badenhorst went down with elbow trouble and also exited in the 4th, and Louis Hare came up limp with a groin strain in the 5th. Unfortunately Hare had to stay in the Game as Herts had no further substitutes available, hobbling his way on one leg to a few more plays a first base and even scoring a run.


On Sunday July 24th, the Falcons will take on the 1st place London Mets (20-2) at Finsbury Park. First pitch is scheduled for 12:00 PM.

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.