Eagles and Hawks take centre stage at Herts Baseball Club on opening day

Herts Eagles opened the season with a double-header against Oxford Kings. Picture (c) Richard Lee, www.richardleephotography.org
Herts Eagles opened the season with a double-header against Oxford Kings. Picture (c) Richard Lee, www.richardleephotography.org
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With the Herts Falcons not involved in NBL action at the weekend the focus was on two other Herts teams who opened their seasons in the second and third tier of the British Baseball League.

In the Triple-A League, the Herts Eagles had a difficult start as they lost their first game against the Oxford Kings.

However, they came back strongly in the second game of the double-header to pick up a 16-11 win. Lee Manning was the winning pitcher in that game.

Similarly to last year, the Eagles squad is made up predominantly of players from the club’s U19 and U17 teams but expectations are higher this season. The win will give the team belief that they are capable of reaching the playoffs.

Elsewhere, the Herts Hawks opened their Double-A League campaign at home against the London Mammoths.

Despite another good pitching performance from Nick Russell, they found it difficult to contain the Mammoths’ batting assault, losing the first game 17-7 and the second 27-10.

Fielding errors proved to be a major weakness for the Hawks on the day but, ironically, there were two outstanding defensive plays which are already contenders for Plays of the Year.

The first was a spectacular diving catch by centre-fielder Ilya Dimitrov. The second was that rarest of plays in the game of baseball – the triple play.

With runners on first and second and no one out, the ball was hit sharply to first base where Andrew Slater caught it.

Without hesitation he stepped on first base for the second out and then threw to second base for the third out, with runners in both cases desperately diving back into the bags but unable to stay alive.

According to the Society for American Baseball Research, there have been 691 triple plays in Major League Baseball from 1876 to April 13, 2013. The most recent triple play was recorded on April 12, 2013 by the New York Yankees against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

The heavy defeat will dent their confidence, but the Hawks will remain positive in the knowledge that they were crushed 21-8 by the Mammoths on opening day 12 months ago and still managed to reach the Double-A playoffs.

The British adult and youth leagues now take a break for the Easter holidays before the action resumes the following weekend.