The Hemel Hempstead-based Herts Hawks won their playoff game at home to the Bournemouth Bears at the weekend in what was essentially a quarter-final clash – if they win their next match they will move on to the final at Farnham Park, Slough, the following week.
The Hawks took an early 5-1 lead in their playoff clash at Hemel’s Grove Park diamond – but the final victory would be anything but routine.
Darrin Ward was on the mound and pitching well. By the fifth inning, Herts had scored five but the visiting Bears battled back, and took advantage of a brief mental lapse by the Hawks to make it 5-4.
Herts loaded the bases in the sixth frame but could not capitalise. Good defense from Greg Bochan and Louis Hare kept it tight.
But the Bears broke through to tie it in the seventh.
In the bottom of the eighth, Kimi Saionji led off with another hit and was driven in by a triple from Hunter Devine. Devine then hustled home on a pass ball to make it 7-5 to the hosts.
But Herts could not hold it in the ninth and final inning. Some misplays helped the Bears seize the lead for the first time at 9-7 and an injury to Herts catcher Bryn Coughlan threatened to make a bad situation worse.
But, after the injury delay, the Herts bats delivered. Bochan started it, then Saionji again, before substitute Antony Lavender clubbed a double.
Fittingly, Hawks manager Mike Cresswell got the last word. His drive down the third-base line brought home Saionji to score the winning run.
The Hawks travel to the East London Latin Boys this week to play the semi-final.