The Herts Falcons had a tough day at home to the London Capitals at the weekend, losing the first of two games, and falling 8-2 behind in the second.
But they dug deep and as boss Cris Hiche put it: “The bats came alive.”
Tom Carson came off the bench to get two hits, including a double, while Conner Brown contributed three innings of phenomenal relief pitching as the Falcons went on to win 14-8.
The first game ended 7-4, but that was after London scored six in the first inning – with two home runs.
Herts’ Rob Ackerman made adjustments after the early struggles to pitch a complete game. Hiche hopes his team can ride the momentum from their comeback and continue improving.
Across Grovehill on the other baseball diamond in Hemel, the Herts Hawks had an unusually error-strewn game against Sidewinders in the AA-league. They gave up five runs in the top of the second, with batters getting to veteran pitcher Darrin Ward and the defence unable to help him out.
Hawks were able to rally back to 11-6, and got hits from new boy Leigh Coke and returning hero Kimiyoshi Saionji.
But they could not keep Sidewinders in check. More mistakes allowed more runs, and the visitors took it 19-11.
In 2016, the Herts Hawks won British baseball’s Single-A title with an unbeaten season. In 2017, Norwich Iceni did the same thing, so their first-ever meeting, in the higher Double-A league, was always going to be tasty the previous weekend.
It is the longest road trip of the season for Herts, and the weather was grim. Many games around the country were called off due to the wet weather.
When the Hawks got under-way, they fell victim quickly to the power of the Norwich bats. The home side jumped to a 3-0 lead in the first inning against veteran pitcher Darrin Ward.
But Herts started chipping into that lead in the 3rd inning, and tied it in the fourth. In the top of the sixth, Ward helped his own cause by driving in two runs to give the Hawks the lead for the first time. That 6-5 advantage didn’t last long. Norwich were looking to preserve a 19-game unbeaten streak and they struck back to lead again.
In the top of the 9th – what would usually be the last of the game – Herts’ shortstop Mike Cattermole drove in two runs to give his side a crucial 11-9 lead. They just had to hold Norwich scoreless and the game would be theirs. But the Iceni again tied it up and the Hawks lost 16-15 in extra innings, Iceni scoring five runs to win in the bottom of the tenth.